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With most conservative candidates in primary races across the country pledging allegiance to former President Trump and disseminating his Big Lie, what is a Republican candidate to do to get ahead? Why, just accuse their Republican opponent of having ties to China, of course!
Spurious, misleading, and even exaggerated accusations of connections with China are a source of anxiety for Republicans in the 2022 races, while campaign strategists and candidates have labeled such allegations a “prime attack in a Republican primary,” according to the Washington Post.
Incumbent Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — who is running against four other candidates in the Peach State primary, chief among them former Senator David Perdue — ran a TV spot accusing hisTrump-backed rival Perdue of outsourcing jobs to China before becoming a senator.
"Millionaire David Perdue got rich sending jobs to China," the narrator in Kemp’s ad claimed. The ad used a clip of Perdue in his days before the Senate, when he said, "I lived over there. I’ve been dealing with China for over 30 years," and another clip from a Georgia Public Broadcasting interview where Perdue claimed, “We outsourced every single product that we sold in our stores."
Kemp’s communications director touted the effectiveness of the China ad in a statement to the Post. “We tested a number of hits, and that was the best-polling one — the outsourcing to China.” Tying Perdue to China has become central to the incumbent governor’s paid advertising and messaging.
Invoking China is a crucial strategy in the Pennsylvania primary, too. Candidate Mehmet Oz, whom Trump is backing, has accused opponent David McCormick of carrying out business deals with China. McCormick struck back, as one would expect, alleging that Oz made bank from dealings with Chinese state TV and patronized products made in China.
In a blistering attack last Friday night, Trump accused McCormick of being a “liberal Wall Street Republican” who has managed money for China. “I don’t know David well, and he may be a nice guy, but he’s not MAGA,” the former president added.
A pollster who has worked for Trump and is polling in many 2022 primaries told the Post that tough talk on US-China relations, even far-fetched claims, is all the rage in this year’s Republican primary debates because that’s what Republican voters want to hear.
“If you coddle China, or you are soft on China, that makes you not so much America first and not so tough,” pollster Tony Fabrizio said. “Being tagged as soft on China is not a good thing. Trump focused and catalyzed some of it. But China has been seen as the primary world foe for at least the last decade or more.”
Fabrizio also spoke of a poll he conducted earlier this year which showed that Republicans consider China a bigger threat to national security than Russia, even after Russia’s missile bombardment of Ukraine has claimed thousands of civilian lives.
Two years of battling the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with Trump’s litany of anti-China messaging, has increased the Republican voters' negative perception of China. In March, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs conducted a poll that found that 75 percent of Republicans considered Beijing’s development a “critical threat” to the interests of the United States of America, up from 67 percent in 2020 and 42 percent in 2018, according to the Washington Post.
Last year, Trump’s team ran a poll to ascertain the former president’s most effective messages and found that the former president’s supporters love his attacks on China.
An informal adviser for Trump, Michael Pillsbury, weighed in on this seismic perception shift. “It is something quite new — Republicans used to be the business of party and free trade,” Pillsbury told the Washington Post. “And I remember during the early considerations of President Trump — putting heavy tariffs on China — there were voices within the White House and within the party that this goes against Republican traditions.”
“The current mood toward China,” Pillsbury added, “is darker than it has been in decades in the United States.”
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Former Trump attorney John Eastman used his University of Colorado email account to collude with a Republican lawmaker in Pennsylvania to formulate a pretext to seat Trump electors in a state Joe Biden won by nearly 82,000 votes. It was a last ditch-bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election, new emails obtained by the House Select Committee show.
Eastman devised a sinister idea to label tens of thousands of absentee ballots illegitimate, thus giving then-President Trump the state’s popular vote lead. This method, Eastman proposed, “would help provide some cover,” beneath which Republicans could swap Biden’s electors with sham electors for Trump who would subvert the 2020 elections.
According to the emails, Eastman suggested that Republican officials voice their concerns with mailed-in ballots and, using historical data, “discount each candidate’s totals by a prorated amount based on the absentee percentage those candidates otherwise received,” according to Politico.
“Then, having done that math, you’d be left with a significant Trump lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors — perfectly within your authority to do anyway, but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote. That would help provide some cover,” Eastman told Russ Diamond, the aforementioned GOP Pennsylvania state lawmaker, in a December 4, 2020, email. “That would help provide some cover.”
The messages sent to and from Eastman’s “colorado.edu” email address were obtained by the Colorado Ethics Institute via a request citing the state's Open Records law. A Democratic political consultant sent these emails to the House Select Committee on behalf of the institute.
The select committee sued Eastman’s former employer, Chapman University, to obtain 90,000 pages of the ex-Trump lawyer’s emails, but Eastman countersued to prevent Chapman from complying. The House panel won several rounds of that case — with a finding by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter that Eastman and Trump had “more likely than not” participated in criminal activity — and has already obtained crucial emails Eastman sent from January 4 to January 7, 2021. However, the select committee is still in court, asking to get 3,000 more pages of Eastman’s emails before its June-slated public hearings.
Eastman has claimed for months that his post-election work was “grounded in provocative-but-real legal scholarship,” per MSNBC, but the released emails, which underscore the length to which he tried to distort reality to earn Trump undeserved electors, render the attorney’s point moot.
"Here in Pennsylvania, numerous other frustrated colleagues and I are searching for legislative solutions to our current national predicament," Eastman told Diamond in another December 4 email. The “predicament” was Biden winning the state by tens of thousands of votes.
Not satisfied with the preponderance of advice he’d given Diamond on the language of his resolution, Eastman even offered to carry out specific line edits on the proposed resolution, the Washington Post reported.
“I would also include after paragraph 3 a specific legislative determination that the slate of electors certified by the governor under the illegally-conducted election are also null and void,” Eastman suggested.
When contacted by 9news for comment, Eastman rejected claims of wrongdoing on his part.
"I wasn't even aware that I had used a [University of] Colorado email, but somebody obviously reached out to me using that email and I just hit reply," said Eastman. "Look, I'm a constitutional expert. The notion that a legislator would reach out to me seeking my input on a key constitutional issue is not a surprise and well within my normal academic duties," Eastman said.
A member of the select committee disagreed. “Eastman wasn’t doing anything that Trump wasn’t doing himself,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) told the Washington Post. “They,” he added, referring to Eastman and his cohorts, “were both trying to get officials in the electoral process to substitute a counterfeit for the actual vote totals.”
As the subject of investigations and lawsuits, Eastman turned to his far-right supporters for financial aid for his “Legal Defense Fund” and has raised nearly $180,000 in a crowdfunding drive, where he painted himself a victim of “hard-core leftist activists” and “hyper-partisan” investigators.
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