Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez (pictured above left) refused Friday during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to denounce the increasingly aggressive, sometimes violent tactics of left-wing protesters.
Just a few hours after the Perez interview, Department of Justice officials announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York had arrested a man for allegedly threatening two GOP senators who voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“Representative democracy cannot work if elected officials are threatened with death for simply doing their job,” U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue said in a statement Friday.
“The First Amendment — the pinnacle of American achievement — protects debate, disagreement and dissent, not death threats,” Donoghue added. “We and all those dedicated to the rule of law will not tolerate the use of violence and threats of violence in attempts to prevail in political disputes.”
New York resident Ronald DeRisi was arrested after he allegedly threatened to assault and murder two unnamed Republican senators because of their support for Kavanaugh.
Many liberal activists were enraged after President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July and became even more unhinged after three women came forward during the 11th hour of his confirmation process and accused him of sexually assaulting them in high school or college.
Kavanaugh denied all of the allegations, and none of the witnesses the three women said would confirm their accounts of the alleged assaults did so.
Shouting protesters cornered GOP senators and swarmed the Senate building in their efforts to sway their votes away from Kavanaugh. Some anti-Kavanaugh activists even chased Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and his wife, Heidi, out of a Washington, D.C., restaurant.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) received intense backlash after she urged activists to harass Trump administration officials wherever they were out in public. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) urged Democrats in July to “get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
And former Attorney General Eric Holder (D) riffed on former first lady Michelle Obama’s iconic slogan, “When they go low, we go high,” during a recent campaign event in Georgia when he said, “When they go low, we kick ’em.”
“The choice could not be more clear: Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs.”
MSNBC co-anchor Willie Geist (above right) asked Perez Friday if it was “a good idea” for Democrats to push Holder’s “punch-back” approach and Booker’s “surround them where you see them” approach.
“Donald Trump has taken that … and used that as a rallying cry — these ‘mobs in the street,'” Geist noted. “Do you think it’s a good idea for Democrats to talk about those kinds of things? Should Democrats follow Ted Cruz into restaurants and make a scene and post that on social media? Is that a good approach?”
Trump characterized the aggressive protesters during a rally Thursday in Montana, saying, “The choice could not be more clear: Democrats produce mobs, Republicans produce jobs.”
But Perez refused to rebuff the aggressive tactics, choosing instead to deflect away from Geist’s question by touting the “approach we’re taking” at the DNC heading into the midterm elections.
“This is the vote of your lifetime. They are trying to take away your health care. They’re going to take away your Medicare, they’re going to take away your Social Security, they’re going to take away your Medicaid. That’s what’s on the ballot, folks,” Perez said.
“But the president wants to talk about your tactics, the tactics of progressives. Do you believe this idea that Eric Holder put forward, which is the sort of anti-Obama doctrine, ‘When they go low, we kick them,’ is the right approach?”
“We’re fighting for your health care. We’re fighting for your education. We’re fighting for your future. And we’re fighting for our democracy,” Perez added. “We need guardrails in Washington because of the culture of corruption.”
Geist replied, “You’re talking about issues, and rightly so.”
But he pressed onward, once again asking Perez, “But the president wants to talk about your tactics, the tactics of progressives. Do you believe this idea that Eric Holder put forward, which is the sort of anti-Obama doctrine, ‘When they go low, we kick them,’ is the right approach?”
Perez deflected again, quipping, “When they go low, we go vote.”
“And the good news is that our operation, our blocking and tackling, Joe, is better than it’s ever been before,” Perez said to MSNBC co-host Joe Scarborough. “And, again, this is the vote of your lifetime.”
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Scarborough noted that he has “sort of gotten into a scrap with people that go into restaurants, scream at people and make all these scenes. I’m like, ‘No, no, no, no. Don’t waste your energy doing that.'”
Co-host Mika Brzezinski agreed, simply saying, “Vote.”
“Set up phone banks. Knock on doors,” Scarborough said. “I wish I could have thought about saying that, ‘When they go low, we vote.'”
Even MSNBC’s Donny Deutsch, a branding and marketing expert, urged Perez and the Democrats to focus on messaging and tone that doesn’t involve aggressive protesting.
“The tone of what you just said was assumptive, strong,” Deutsch told Perez. “This is it. ‘They are taking your health care away. The rich are getting richer. This is your chance. This is your vote of the lifetime.’ You had a strength and a presence without sounding victimized, without sounding whiny, and both what you said and the way you said it, chest out, strong, this counts, this matters, vote of your lifetime, they’re taking health care away, stand up, be counted, we’re the good guys.”
“That’s the tone,” Deutsch added. “‘They are taking your health care away. They’re taking it away.’ Even though that’s a bit of an exaggeration.”
That comment, however, was met with protest from Perez and the rest of the panel, who argued it wouldn’t be an “exaggeration” to say Republicans are trying to take away everyone’s health care.
In fact, Trump has expanded the availability of health insurance alternatives to government-paid health care under the Obamacare program, while promising voters to protect popular benefits such as no denials of coverage for pre-existing conditions.