Thom Tillis kicked off his re-election campaign with an ad wrapping himself around Donald Trump. It’s a signal of how beholden the party is to the president and of Tillis’ naked political opportunism. The GOP has become more a cult of personality than a political party. Trump, a man with no moral or ideological core, is really the only thing that matters in intra-party contests and his endorsement can make or break a campaign.

Tillis is also betting that Trump’s endorsement won’t hurt him during the general election. The economy is strong and the House is not likely to impeach the president before the election.  I suspect he’ll move away from Trump and run more on the economy if he gets past his primary. 

The economy is the best thing Republicans have going for them. It’s in better shape than any time since before the Great Recession. While Donald Trump might not be the reason for the good news, he gets the political credit, even if he inherited the record job growth and falling unemployment from his predecessor. That’s how politics works. 

Still, while people are feeling more secure about their financial well-being, there are problems. The unemployment rate is so low, in part, because a lot of people have left the workforce and quit looking for jobs. Wages are rising but slowly. The economy isn’t growing at anywhere near the 4% that Trump promised. The number of people uninsured is growing again after years of plummeting because of the Affordable Care Act. And the deficit will reach $1 trillion soon, signaling that the tax cut which disproportionally benefited the wealthy was put on the nation’s credit card and will require everybody to pay for the benefit of the few. Recent polls show people aren’t confident about the future.

Democrats shouldn’t run against the economy, but they should wrap Tillis around Trump. Overwhelmingly, people think the country is heading in the wrong direction while they are also generally satisfied with their own economic standing. That points to dissatisfaction with the president.

If Tillis is going to pander to Trump, Democrats should make it stick to him like glue. He’s refused to check Trump’s erratic behavior, he’s saddling the next generation with the Trump Trillion Dollar Deficit and he’s stood idly by as Trump divides our country on racial and ethnic grounds. He’s also stood in the way of health care reforms that could provide more people with health care and lower premiums for middle class families. 

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