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'Stop caving to the woke mobs': GOP ramps up attacks on vulnerable Dems amid anti-Israel campus unrest

'Stop caving to the woke mobs': GOP ramps up attacks on vulnerable Dems amid anti-Israel campus unrest

FIRST ON FOX: The anti-Israel protests that have erupted on college campuses across the country in recent weeks over Israel's war with Hamas in Gaza are fueling new political attacks by Republicans on vulnerable Democrats running in this year's Senate elections.

"Death to America. Threatening Jews. Attacking Police. Antisemitic mobs are taking over our universities. Students radicalized by the far left acting like terrorists," the narrator says in a new series of ads by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the campaign arm of the Senate GOP.

The spots target four Democrats — senators Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Jon Tester of Montana — as well as Rep. Elissa Slotkin, the likely Democratic Senate nominee in Michigan. All five are being heavily targeted by the NRSC as the GOP aims to regain the Senate majority in November's elections.

The narrator argues that President Biden and Democratic lawmakers "want you to pay off their student loans using your tax dollars to fund this mayhem." 


The ads end with the narrator urging viewers to tell Democrats to "stop caving to the woke mobs and put America first."

The NRSC is spending a minuscule five figures to run the spots, but a bigger ad blitz with a similar theme is expected in the near future.

"This is the most toxic issue for Democrats since they tried to defund the police," NRSC communications director Mike Berg claimed.

"You can bet it will be in television ads if Democrats on college campuses continue these antisemitic riots."


The protests, some of which have turned violent this week, have grabbed plenty of attention on the cable news networks and online. And they seem to be giving Republicans plenty of ammunition to use in this year's ballot box showdowns.

It's not just the NRSC.

In battleground Pennsylvania's high-profile Senate contest, which may decide the chamber's majority, presumptive GOP nominee Dave McCormick on Friday attacked Casey in an email titled "As Antisemitism Runs Rampant on Campuses Across the Country, Bob Casey Fails to Stand Up for What's Right."


Casey, who earlier this month teamed up with GOP Sen. Tim Scott to introduce the Senate’s version of the Antisemitism Awareness Act, has emphasized that "on the campuses, they’ve got to enforce the law."

As the House GOP works to hold onto its fragile majority, the National Republican Congressional Committee this past week launched a similar spot against 37 swing district Democrats it is targeting.

"Tell House Democrats it is time to stand up for Israel. It is time to stand up for what is right," the narrator in the ad urges.

The NRSC ad buy is also modest but may be an appetizer for more to come.

Republicans are mostly unified in reacting to the protests, framing them as antisemitic and anti-American, while Democrats have struggled to find a consistent message when it comes to the demonstrations.

Brian Walsh, a veteran Republican consultant who served for years as a top communications strategist for both House and Senate Republicans, argued that the protests are "problematic for Democrats on several fronts."

"First, they need the youth vote to turn out for them in November, and it’s clear they’re very unhappy with President Biden, which will have a negative down-ballot effect. Second, it’s motivating conservatives because it reminds them of the woke ideology that’s become a hallmark of this administration," Walsh said. "And it’s coming at the same time the president is telling working-class Americans they need to pay for the student loans of these same college students. 

"You should expect Republican candidates around the country to pose a very simple question to their Democratic opponents: Do they stand with the protesters who’ve sided with Hamas or do they stand for law and order and in support of one of America’s closest allies, Israel? It’s a problem for many Democrats because they’re caught between their liberal base and where most Americans are who are disgusted by the scenes at Columbia, UCLA and elsewhere."

Democrats appear divided.

Some in tough races are calling for crackdowns on the campus protests. 

"We all speak strongly that the antisemitism and hate and violence are not acceptable," Ohio's Brown said.

But plenty of progressives who don't face difficult re-election fights are strongly defending the protesters' rights to demonstrate and oppose calls for federal intervention.

"It is outrageous and it is disgraceful to use the charge of antisemitism to distract from the immoral and illegal war policies that Netanyahu’s extremist and racist government is pursuing," progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont argued as he pointed to the longtime Israeli leader.

Veteran Democratic strategist Maria Cardona told Fox News "Democrats need to continue to underscore two foundational things. The first one is that we are a nation of laws, and one of those critical laws and rights is that we allow for and people have a right to peacefully protest. Underscore peaceful. 

"President Biden and Democrats need to continue to listen to the Palestinians and those speaking for the innocent lives that are being lost in Gaza and for the need to continue and expand humanitarian aid, and that is something that President Biden and Democrats are listening to and working very hard to obtain a cease-fire.

"The other side is to always strongly disavow and condemn hate speech, violent rhetoric, antisemitism and that harassment of Jewish students will not and should not be tolerated," Cardona emphasized. "And those two things are a huge contrast to Donald Trump, who said he would deal harshly with the protesters, even those who are doing it peacefully, wanting to call in the National Guard and clear everyone out. (He) has said before he would bash heads. That is not the way that we do things in this country. "

While Republican candidates and campaign committees are likely to keep up the pressure as the protests continue, it's questionable how effective their efforts will be with voters.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released this week indicated that few respondents said the demonstrations in the U.S. and the fighting in Gaza were critical to their vote in the autumn elections.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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