Sen. Chuck Schumer is again defending his party’s attacks on Charles and David Koch, the industrialists who have spent millions backing conservative candidates and causes.
Appearing on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Monday, the senior New York Democrat insisted that polls show the strategy of vilifying the two brothers in highly personal attacks "will work."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has called the pair "about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine."
Schumer said such diatribes are justified because recent polling shows that 48 percent of Americans recognize the Kochs’ names.
"That’ll mean about 90 percent of them will know it [the Koch name] in October," Schumer said
on the show. "I think the Koch brother thing will work."
He brushed off criticism from conservatives that Democrats are trying to suppress the brothers' free-speech rights.
"The Koch brothers aren’t just sitting there innocently on the side," he contended. "They’re spending $40, $50 million in ads that are not focused on their real agenda, which is just eliminating all regulation on corporations, cutting taxes to virtually nothing. And so, that demands a response. So, I don’t feel sorry for them."
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Schumer conceded that the strategy could backfire if Democrats are perceived as using it as a substitute for an agenda. The left must put forward arguments to counter the Kochs, he said, or "we’ll lose.’’
In one of the most controversial slams against the Kochs, singer Harry Belafonte
compared the two to white supremacists, saying, "They make up the heart and the thinking in the minds of those who would belong to the Ku Klux Klan."
Hedge fund billionaire and Democratic campaign contributor Tom Steyer described David Koch as "just a famously evil person!"
Schumer’s comments were challenged on the program by another guest, New York Times correspondent Jeremy Peters, who compared the Democratic tactics to earlier, largely fruitless GOP attempts to vilify liberal donor George Soros.
Schumer rejected the analogy.
"It's different than George Soros," he said. "First, the Koch brothers are doing far more with ads than people recognize, and second, they're just real issues, just not ideological issues, but specific issues in the state about them. And I think it's going to make a difference. It's going to undo the sting of a lot of these ads. We're already finding that in the polling in a few of the states."
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