Pelosi seeks to bury 'defund the police': The Note

"Defund" sentiments have lost steam even inside progressive politics of late.

February 14, 2022, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

It was a raging debate inside the Democratic Party in 2020.

The nation's top elected Democrats are doing what they can to make sure it isn't in 2022.

With the first voting of the midterms starting Monday, as early voting starts in primaries in Texas, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pronouncing as clearly as possible that "defund the police" is not a slogan Democrats are running on.

PHOTO: Voters wearing protective masks cast ballots at a polling location for the 2020 Presidential election in Houston, Nov. 3, 2020.
Voters wearing protective masks cast ballots at a polling location for the 2020 Presidential election in Houston, Nov. 3, 2020.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

"With all the respect in the world for [Rep.] Cori Bush, that is not the position of the Democratic Party," Pelosi said on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, referring to the Missouri Democrat who said last week she will continue to use the phrase in midterm messaging. "Make no mistake: Community safety is our responsibility."

Pelosi went a beat further, paraphrasing Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., a 33-year-old freshman House member whom Pelosi described as "way on the left": "Defund the police is dead."

The comments came just 10 days after President Joe Biden traveled to New York City to associate himself with the new crime-fighting efforts of Mayor Eric Adams, a former police officer. At that event, Biden declared, "The answer is not to defund the police."

"Defund" sentiments have lost steam even inside progressive politics of late, despite the anger over police brutality and frustration over the failure to pass policing reform at the federal level.

As Pelosi acknowledged, the issue continues to divide some in her caucus, and quotes to that effect will get outsized attention in campaign ads. But it's striking to see such definitive sentiments from both the House speaker and the president whom Democrats hope will help them keep control of Congress this year.

The RUNDOWN with Averi Harper

As former President Donald Trump turns the focus of his political vendetta to sitting South Carolina House members, Sen. Lindsey Graham seems to be looking the other way.

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a bi-partisan press conference at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 10, 2022.
Sen. Lindsey Graham attends a bi-partisan press conference at the Capitol in Washington, Feb. 10, 2022.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

When asked by "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos about Trump's intent to campaign against South Carolina incumbents Reps. Nancy Mace and Tom Rice, Graham did not come to the defense of his fellow South Carolina Republicans.

"It's up to him who he wants to campaign for. I'm not worried about us taking back the House," said Graham.

The comment comes just days after Mace filmed herself praising the former president in front of Trump Tower following his endorsement of her primary challenger Katie Arrington, a former pentagon official.

Both Mace's desperate plea and Graham's reluctance to go to bat for incumbents at odds with the twice-impeached former president are indicative of the grip Trump continues to have on the Republican Party.

The TIP with Alisa Wiersema

The start of this year's midterm election season is already showing that political and legal fights over 2020-era mail voting practices continue to loom in key battleground states, even as voters begin casting ballots.

PHOTO: A poll worker stamps a voters ballot before dropping it into a secure box at a ballot drop off location in Austin, Texas, Oct. 13, 2020.
A poll worker stamps a voters ballot before dropping it into a secure box at a ballot drop off location in Austin, Texas, Oct. 13, 2020.
Sergio Flores/Getty Images, FILE

One of the most high-profile examples of this dynamic is happening in Texas, where the first in-person, early voters of 2022 head to the polls on Monday ahead of the March 1 primary. Voters will be casting their ballots under the requirements of a new law put in practice for the first time this year.

Several provisions of the law have long been questioned by Texas Democrats and voting rights advocates prior to the law's passage late last year. One of those provisions -- which prevented election workers from proactively soliciting voters to request mail ballot applications -- was temporarily blocked on Friday by a federal judge who ruled that portion of the law violates the First Amendment because it is too vague.

Meanwhile, a different election-related legal development unfolded in Wisconsin. The state Supreme Court allowed a ban on ballot drop boxes to go into effect after this Tuesday's mayoral primary instead of holding off until the election concludes in April, as The Wisconsin Elections Commission had previously asked.

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

Fifty-six, that's the share of Latinos who identified as Democrats or as independents who leaned toward the Democratic Party in Gallup's 2021 political affiliation data. It's a promising sign for Democrats that more Latinos haven't abandoned the party given their shift toward the Republican Party in the 2020 presidential election, but as Geoffrey Skelley writes for FiveThirtyEight, we shouldn't read too much into this. That's because compared to other voters, Latinos don't have strong ties to either party. Read more from Geoffrey on why the Latino voter community is one of the swingiest parts of the electorate.

ONE MORE THING

"Tell the truth. Let the chips fall where they may." That's the advice from former Nixon aide Dwight Chapin -- who went to prison in connection with Watergate nearly half a century ago -- to former Trump aides now caught amid the fallout of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. ABC's Rick Klein spoke with Chapin on "This Week" about his new book, "The President's Man: The Memoirs of Nixon's Trusted Aide."

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast.

Start Here begins Monday morning with ABC's Ian Pannell in Ukraine discussing the possibility of a Russian invasion. Then, ABC's Cheynne Hazlett breaks down a timeline shift for COVID vaccines for children under 5. And, ABC's Emily Shapiro reports on the unanswered questions in the five years since the tragic deaths of two teen girls in Delphi, Indiana. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris receive their daily brief at 11:30 a.m.
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks in Austin at 9:30 a.m. and in Odessa at 1:45 p.m. to encourage voters to go to the polls for the primaries.
  • The House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations hold a hearing at 11 a.m. to examine USPS performance in the Baltimore area.
  • Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House principal deputy press secretary, holds a brief at 2:30 p.m.
  • Polls open for early voting in Texas for the midterm primaries. Times vary by county.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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