FRANKFORT, Ky. — At the kickoff of a week-long tour with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Democratic National Committee Chairman Thomas Perez worked blue. Republicans, he told an audience in Maine, “don’t give a s— about the people they’re trying to hurt.” The Trump administration’s “skinny budget” was, in point of fact, a “s—ty budget.”
Not for the first time, Republicans acted as if their nemesis had blown a gasket. “Unhinged DNC Chair Gives Another Profanity-Laced Speech,” read the headline from the Need to Know Network, a pro-GOP news aggregation site. Previously, Republican National Committee chair Ronna Romney McDaniel had asked Perez to apologize for insulting Republicans in Washington; Perez had declined to.
“I’m always amused that Republicans feign indignation when they hear the word ‘s—‘ or ‘bulls—‘ out of Tom Perez, and they observe what Donald Trump has been saying for decades,” Perez said in an interview on his way back from Kentucky’s capitol city to Louisville. “Talk about ridiculous. I grew up in Buffalo. We’re a blunt community. We tell it like it is. I think folks want to hear the straight skinny; they don’t want double-talk.”
Pressed on whether this contradicted Democrats’ 2016 campaign messaging — much of which attacked Trump for being crude — Perez scoffed.
“To compare what Donald Trump was doing to saying the word ‘s—‘ is unfair to the word ‘s—,'” he said. “I mean, with all due respect, I don’t see the comparison there. The personal attacks, the collusion with the Russian government — to suggest that that’s somehow on par with using the word ‘s—‘?”
Asked about the Clinton campaign’s general theme, of “they go low, we go high,” Perez returned to a theme of his own. Democrats, he said, simply needed to be as ruthless in their politics as Republicans had been during Barack Obama’s presidency.
“They consistently went low, and you know what? It’s a great aspiration to want to turn the other cheek,” Perez said. “But my first goal is to make sure we’re standing up for our values. And in today’s toxic politics, it was clear from Day One that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell’s one goal was making Barack Obama a one-term president. We have to fight with a similar relentlessness.”