“We are people, we live on this planet, we want to survive.”
With Democrats searching for a winning message, CNN went to Pennsylvania last week to see what it would take for the party to get back the mythical Obama-to-Trump voter.
In a broadcast last week, the network spoke with residents of Luzerne County, one of the districts that helped swing the state from blue to red in 2016 and make Donald Trump president. According to reporter Jason Carroll, voters there say the Democrats have forgotten white working class voters like them.
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A middle-aged couple, Eileen and Richard Sorokas, told Carroll that they have no regrets about leaving the Democratic Party and do not plan to return. They blamed the party’s emerging leaders, particularly Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
“I think she’s too bizarre,” said Eileen Soroka of the freshman congresswoman. “I think she’s more ridiculous, and be more realistic, you know? We are people, we live on this planet, we want to survive.”
Of Trump, Soroka said: “He wants the wall, which I’m for, you know.”
Richard Soroka said he opposed Ocasio-Cortez’s environmental agenda.
“They want to get all these environment projects done in 10 years, and it’s impossible,” he said. “You lose jobs, you lose wages.”
Another local Trump voter, Paul Visoky told Carroll he is displeased with the Democrats’ socialist stylings.
“They’re more liberal. They’re attempting to be socialists,” he said.
Carrol said that voters brought up their problems with Ocasio-Cortez “totally unsolicited.”
The reporter noted that there are many counties across America that voted for former President Barack Obama and then Trump, and that less than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were enough to determine the outcome of the election.
Ed Rendell, a former Pennsylvania governor and former Democratic National Committee chairman, told CNN that his party needed to fight the perception that it was far-left and socialist or it would lose to Trump again in 2020.
“AOC does not speak for the Democratic Party,” he said.
Other Democrats have sent a similar message, including House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. After all, a recent Gallup poll showed declining support for Ocasio-Cortez among Independents and Republicans, as well as most other voter demographics surveyed.
When it comes to actually passing legislation, the Green New Deal has been seen as enough of a political liability that Republicans have moved to hold a vote simply to embarrass Democrats, who are planning to simply vote “present” en masse.
Still, Ocasio-Cortez and other left-wing freshman women have dominated headlines since being sworn in at the start of the year, and 2020 contenders have sought to share in the progressive spotlight.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who is among those running for president, last month gushed that the Green New Deal showed the same kind of American gumption that landed a man on the moon and defeated the Nazis.
“Our history is standing up and saying, ‘Look, humanity is in crisis. America is going to be the light and the hope,'” Booker told supporters.
Carroll reported that he was unable to find a Pennsylvania voter who would come back to the Democratic Party for any of the current presidential candidates, though some said former Vice President Joe Biden could change their minds if he enters the race as expected.
“He’s sort of a moderate, and takes the same platform that I believe in and what the Democrats were at one time,” said Richard Sorokas. “As long as he doesn’t get to the socialism part of it, I believe he’d be a very good candidate.”
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- Eileen Sorokas/Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat.: Screen grabs