DNC Chair Tom Perez Weighs In On Democratic Prospects Ahead Of Midterms05:59
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DNC Chairman Tom Perez speaks to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally on April 21, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)MoreCloseclosemore
DNC Chairman Tom Perez speaks to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally on April 21, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (George Frey/Getty Images)

Polls suggest Democrats have a good chance of taking control of the House in next week's midterm elections.

Here & Now's Robin Young talks with Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez (@TomPerez) about the party's prospects on Election Day, and how leadership would govern if Democrats gains power.

Despite favorable polls, some Democrats are concerned that the party doesn’t have the kind of response to match the flame-throwing of President Trump. But Perez says Americans don’t want Democrats to emulate the president’s “dog whistle” rhetoric.

“When they go low, we go vote,” Perez says. If the question presented is, 'We need to go in the gutter because he's in the gutter,' I don't think that's what the American people want.

Interview Highlights

On if Democrats are doing enough to offset anti-immigrant rhetoric

“Of course, we are. And this is distracting Donald, this is divisive Donald, this is fearmongering Donald at its worst, this is dog-whistle politics at its worst. They don't want to talk about health care. Health care is the No. 1 issue for voters going into this election. They don't want to talk about it because they want to cut access to health care for people with pre-existing conditions. They want to raise the cost of prescription drugs. They want to cut Medicare. They want to cut Medicaid. They want to cut Social Security, and they don't want voters to focus on those core issues, and so they're distracting people.

“We are a government of laws, and we are a nation of immigrants, and we can do both. I'm proud of our immigrant tradition. You are correct that the caravan is 800 miles away. The work that we have done in the Obama administration to make sure that we were providing a pathway to citizenship — it was a long pathway to citizenship — but the comprehensive immigration bill that was passed in 2013, the Republicans refused to pass it in 2014. Our immigrant history has always been what's made America strong, and we are a nation of laws, and we have always enforced the laws.”

"We want to do away with the divisiveness, the politics of fear and division, that is Donald Trump's middle name."

Tom Perez

On if Trump’s rhetoric is working and if Democrats are delivering a clear counter-message

“Well, I'll tell you where I go. Right now, people understand that the biggest threat that they see in their lives is losing health care because they've got diabetes, and they get health insurance. They see the biggest threat in their lives as their kids’ education is being thwarted because they're going to school four days a week because Republican leadership in places like Oklahoma and Kansas has cut the school week to four days. They see the biggest threat to their life is that they're trying to form a union, so that they can get better wages, and that's not happening. Donald Trump wants to distract people from the issues that animate them that are the issues that are front and center in their lives right now. ... And that's what this is all about. This is his No. 1 dog whistle that he blows when he is in trouble.

“I think we've been delivering a very very clear message that Democrats are fighting for the issues that matter most for you. Democrats are fighting for health care. Democrats are fighting for education that works for everyone. Democrats are fighting for shared prosperity for everyone. Democrats believe that our DREAMers should have a pathway to citizenship. Democrats believe we should be passing comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats believe that we should absolutely secure the borders, and we have laws in place that do that.”

On how he predicts Democrats will perform in the midterms

“Well, I think Democrats are going to do very well because we're fighting for the issues that people care about. We're not angry mobs. We have angry moms who want to make sure that their kids have access to good education. We want to do away with the divisiveness, the politics of fear and division, that is Donald Trump's middle name. And that is why this is not simply an election about health care and access to jobs that pay a fair wage. This is about who we are as a nation. We can be and we are a nation of immigrants. America is great because America is good. And I think those good people are going to come out next week and send a very clear message to Donald Trump that we're not going to take the politics of fear and division.”

This segment aired on November 1, 2018.

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