DNC chair: We have to ‘battle the damage to the Democratic brand’

The Hill | By Mychael Schnell | April 4, 2021

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison said his party must “battle the damage to the Democratic brand.”

“It’s not even just with Republicans, the Democrat brand with some of the folks who are core at the base of our party is not the greatest. And so I want to spend a lot of time, energy, and effort understanding why the brand is where it is, what it is and how, and what we can do in order to improve it,” Harrison told The Daily Beast’s podcast The New Abnormal.

Harrison, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in 2020 to unseat Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), spoke about his own experience battling the “tarnished” Democratic brand in South Carolina.

“I experienced it on my own race, Lindsey [Graham] and his crew of dark money effectively labeled me as somebody who believed in defunding the police. My grandfather on my stepfather’s side was in the Detroit police department for 40 years. So I don’t believe in that,” Harrison said.

“But they were able to do it because the Democratic brand had been so tarnished in South Carolina that people would believe anything. If they said, ‘Jamie kicked a puppy the other day,’ they would have believed it,” he added.

Harrison stressed the importance of selling Democrats’ accomplishments and focusing on rural and red-state America, where he says the American Rescue Plan will help constituents.

“We have to take credit and claim the things that we will have gotten done over the course of this next two years. We’re going to do a lot for rural America,” Harrison said.

“The American Rescue Plan has so much in there for rural communities across this country. And it will have a huge benefit, this infrastructure plan, when we get this done. The broadband component in it alone will totally transform rural America,” he added.

Harrison said listening to and delivering for rural and red-state America will in turn help grow the base, and “persuade a few other folks to take a look at us.”

“Those communities are also just as diverse as urban communities. We also need to make sure that we’re listening to them,” Harrison said.

“And then, in the end, we’ve got to deliver and I believe we can do those things. Not only will we grow our base, but I think we also persuade a few other folks to take a look at us,” he added.

The comments from Harrison come as the DNC is beginning to gear up for the 2022 midterm elections. While in past years the DNC has tended to take a less-active role in midterm elections, the committee announced a coordinated campaign last month to sell President Biden’s coronavirus relief package to battleground state voters.

The committee also distributed a message guide to state party officials and national Democrats on how to promote the legislation.