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Meijer warns Democrats that boosting Trump-backed candidates could backfire

Meijer: Democrats' support of Trump-backed opponent may backfire
Meijer warns Democrats that support of Trump-backed opponent may backfire 06:19

Washington — Rep. Peter Meijer, a Republican from Michigan who was defeated last week in his primary, warned Sunday that Democrats' strategy of boosting GOP candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump could backfire in a "spectacular way" when voters go to the polls for the general election in November.

"While I think there was certainly a cynical calculus at play with the Democrats meddling, this is a risky strategy. It's a dangerous strategy," Meijer told "Face the Nation." "Where President Biden is in his approval is so in the gutter, that it is easy to see that strategy backfiring in a spectacular way, which is all the more reason why we should not be embracing the zero-sum idea of politics."

Meijer was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted last year to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. The former president backed Meijer's challenger in the Republican primary, John Gibbs, who defeated the incumbent congressman. His loss came after the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) spent more than $400,000 on a television ad that highlighted Gibbs' support for Trump and alignment with the former president's policies. 

The ad was panned by Republicans and Democrats alike, and Meijer derided the effort by the DCCC as a "rare showing of bipartisan unity."

"We had a scenario where not only did I have the former president aligned against me, but in a rare showing of bipartisan unity, Nancy Pelosi and the House Democratic Campaign Committee, also united to try to knock me off the ballot," he said. "Now, this just highlights the cynicism and hypocrisy of our politics today. And frankly, it'll be unknowable what that ultimate impact was, but the fact that we have the establishment left and the extreme right locking arms in common cause paints a very telling picture of where our politics are in 2022."

While Meijer said he takes responsibility for his loss, he noted the ad from Democrats' campaign arm was intended to target Republican voters ahead of what was a close race.

"We are dealing with a politics that does not reward substance that does not reward, you know, reality," he said. 

Of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, just three have advanced to the general election in November, while four have decided to retire from Congress. Next week, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, Trump's most outspoken GOP critic, will face opponent Harriet Hageman in the Republican primary. 

Hageman, like Gibbs, has the backing of the former president.

Ahead of Tuesday's contest, Cheney released an ad featuring her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who lambasted the former president, calling him a "coward" and "threat" to the country.

Asked about the ad, Meijer said Trump wants to maintain a high degree of influence over the Republican Party, and said both he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi want the November midterms to be a referendum on the former president.

"The common cause between the extremes on the right, and the establishment left. Nancy Pelosi, I think she's waking up every day crossing her fingers that Donald Trump runs in 2024, that he announces well ahead of the midterms, because right now, the midterms are set to be a referendum on President Biden's leadership and Speaker Pelosi and many of my house Democratic colleagues do not want that," he said. "They want it to be a referendum on former President Trump and I think former President Trump wants that as well."

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