U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) was one of just six U.S. Senators invited to a White House dinner Tuesday to discuss President Donald Trump’s tax reform agenda.
Political analysts say Donnelly’s inclusion is a boost to his reelection campaign.
In a statement, Donnelly called the dinner a “good conversation.” He focused on his proposal to address outsourced jobs and use tax reform to punish companies that send positions overseas while rewarding those who return jobs to the U.S.
U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg), one of the Republicans vying to oust Donnelly in the 2018 election, blasted his presence at the dinner. Rokita’s campaign continues to argue Donnelly merely pretends to be bipartisan.
“Joe Donnelly needs to stand up to the liberal obstructionists in his own party and actually support tax reform, not just use a White House visit to try to fool Hoosiers,” Rokita campaign spokesperson Tim Edson says.
Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics Director Andrew Downs says Rokita’s strategy can be effective, but also easy to refute.
“There are official scores out there that show he is one of the most moderate members or bipartisan members of the current crop of folks who are serving us in D.C.” Downs says.
And Downs says Donnelly’s Republican opponents are likely angry at the president’s invitation, because Downs notes it was likely unnecessary.
“If what Trump wants to do lines up with what Republicans want to do, he doesn’t really need to talk to a lot of Democrats and he certainly doesn’t need to give one in a hotly contested race center stage like this,” Downs says.
President Trump invited three Democrats and three Republicans to what the White House called the “highly productive” discussion.