Debbie Dingell Breaks Down Michigan’s Primary - The World News

Debbie Dingell Breaks Down Michigan’s Primary

Debbie Dingell is big on tough love.

“She’s very quiet,” President Biden joked recently as he campaigned with the Democratic congresswoman in Michigan, her home state. “Like, ‘Joe, get the hell over here quickly. Move.’”

For years, Dingell has sounded alarms when she detects peril for her party in Michigan, a critical battleground state. That was the case in 2016, when Donald Trump narrowly won it, and she was vocal again ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary, which was dominated by clashes over Biden’s support for Israel in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

The issue is especially raw in Michigan, which is home to a significant Arab American community. On Tuesday, many Democrats vented their frustration by voting “uncommitted,” a warning signal that the fragile coalition Biden assembled to win in 2020 may be fraying. Overall, as of late Wednesday afternoon Biden had won 81.1 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary; the “uncommitted” effort drew 13.2 percent.

(My Times colleague Nate Cohn has a full breakdown of the Michigan vote in his newsletter, The Tilt.)

We debriefed Dingell to get her read on the results. She said that emotions were running incredibly high.

“I just talked to people who have lost numerous family members and parents or grandparents, aunts, uncles,” she said as she described the bombing in Gaza. “They have no food. At least five people have told me the stories that they’re drinking saltwater and they’re almost out of saltwater and there’s nothing. I mean, I cry. I don’t sleep some nights.”

“I also know that what Hamas did was a terrorist act,” Dingell added of the Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. “I’ve met with the families of the hostages. It’s horrific.”

Pressed on whether Biden — who has long looked for moments to empathize with voters on the campaign trail — was sufficiently doing so with Arab Americans, she suggested there was more to do.

The White House understands that they need to be reaching out more,” she said, noting that some administration officials had already done so and were building relationships. “At the right time, the president should meet with members of this community.”

More broadly, she thinks Democrats have not done enough to communicate Biden’s achievements in office, especially to younger voters: “It’s incumbent on all of us to do a better job of communicating about what the Biden administration has done. I think we’ve all done a terrible job.”

At the end of the day, Dingell said, Michigan is a “purple state” — and core voting groups “need to be reminded what’s at stake and why it matters that they vote.”

In the meantime, she stressed that plenty of Democrats did turn out for Biden on Tuesday.

“Everybody’s talking about Joe Biden’s uncommitted,” she said. “Joe Biden got over 80 percent of the vote. Trump was in the 60s.”

Senator Mitch McConnell, the longtime top Senate Republican, said on Wednesday that he would give up his spot as the party’s leader at the end of this year, acknowledging that his Reaganite national security views had put him out of step with a party now headed by former President Donald Trump.

“Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular time,” McConnell, who turned 82 last week, said in a speech on the Senate floor announcing his intentions. “I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.”

His decision was not a surprise. McConnell suffered a serious fall last year and experienced some episodes where he momentarily froze in front of the media. He has also faced rising resistance within his ranks for his push to provide continued military assistance to Ukraine as well as his close-to-the-vest leadership style.

His announcement followed a White House meeting on Tuesday where he strongly advocated congressional passage of a foreign aid bill that includes more than $60 billion in aid for Ukraine and urged Speaker Mike Johnson to put the proposal on the House floor.

“I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan discussed,” McConnell said.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader, said he anticipated that McConnell’s decision to step down would free him to push aggressively for the Ukraine aid.

“It is probably the case that on his way toward retirement, he’s going to work as hard as he can to make sure that the national security bill gets over the finish line in the House and the Senate to President Biden’s desk,” Jeffries said in an interview.

McConnell became the longest-serving Senate leader in history at the start of this Congress, surpassing Mike Mansfield of Montana and fulfilling a personal goal. Though he worked closely with Trump in placing conservative judges on the federal bench and three justices on the Supreme Court, McConnell broke with Trump over his refusal to acknowledge that President Biden had won the 2020 election and over the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol, which McConnell held Trump responsible for even though he voted against convicting him on impeachment grounds.

Carl Hulse

Read the full story and related coverage here.

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