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WASHINGTON (AP) — The largest outside Democratic group said Friday that the key to defeating Donald Trump is to focus on pocketbook issues and not fall prey to the president's efforts to tag the party as a band of socialists.
Priorities USA says polling indicates voters in key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida are worried about their personal finances and aren't sold on Trump's talk about a good economy.
Chairman Guy Cecil also offered a cautionary message to Democrats, who he said need to "stop micro targeting ourselves into oblivion" by offering different messages to different voter demographic groups. Instead, he says candidates should deliver a coherent argument focused on health care and wages, issues that appeal to a wide swath of voters.
"The American people are being really clear about what they want us to do and what they want us to talk about," Cecil told reporters at a briefing. "And the only question is whether we will get our act together to do it."
As a super PAC that can raise and spend unlimited sums, Priorities is legally prohibited from coordinating directly with candidates' campaigns. They use media briefings and other open-source communications to make suggestions to those they want to help.
In a statement, a Trump campaign spokeswoman called Priorities' findings "a delusional fantasy."
"As President Trump said, the Republican Party will become the party of health care," said spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany. "Democrats nevertheless will continue with their fraught attempt to poke holes in the Trump economy — the hottest economy in modern history. Best of luck."
Priorities already announced plans to spend over $100 million targeting battleground states Trump won, much of which will be spent on digital advertising. The group is focused on driving turnout, engaging those who do not often go to the polls and winning over persuadable Trump voters who may have soured on his performance.
"Undecided voters — many of whom voted for Trump in 2016 — do not feel the overall good economy is benefiting them," Cecil said, citing the group's research. "Undecided voters state that Donald Trump cares more about the wealthy, more about corporate special interests than about helping the average person."
Cecil said the research offers a clear path forward. He said it was up to Democrats to not fall into traps that could draw them off message, particularly when it comes to the tag of socialism that Trump and his allies often label the party with.
"It's not like any of this is new," Cecil said. "We just have to continue to say what we need to say, and be a little less concerned about jumping after Trump on every crazy tangent."
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