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    A man poses for a picture with the cardboard cutouts of US presidential nominees Hillary Clinton (L) and Donald Trump, at an election event hosted at the US ambassador's residence in Kathmandu, Nepal November 9, 2016.

    Voters in California Rarely Swayed by Foreign Policy Concerns - Expert

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    A Democratic political action committee (PAC) has reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads mocking Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher ahead of the election in November. The congressman previously said on CNN that the current fixation on Russia is a “phony campaign” and is insulting to the intelligence of the American people.

    This came despite the poll, conducted by the SSRS, according to which two thirds of Americans said they want Robert Mueller's Russia probe to end before November's midterm elections.

    Radio Sputnik discussed the Democrats' policy towards Russia with Dr. Jeanne Zaino, American political analyst and professor of political science at Iona College.

    Sputnik: In your view, how effective are the Democrats' efforts to portray their competitor as Russia's stooge?

    Jeanne Zaino: Dana Rohrabacher is a long-term Republican in Congress from California and he is in a state that, as I'm sure you're aware, has been for a long time moving increasingly Democratic, almost completely. So this is really the fight of his life to hold on to this seat. The latest polls you mentioned have him and his opponent in a dead heat race, so there's a lot of attention on the race.

    This political action committee called "Red to Blue California," as the name indicates, is trying to turn any remaining Republican parts of California to the Democrats, has decided to take out thousands of dollars in these two digital ads, which are really jabbing Rohrabacher for his relationship with Putin and with Russia. They're obviously parodies. In one of them we see Putin endorsing Rohrabacher, obviously, that has not happened.

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    One of them is a photoshopped picture of the two of them together. One of the ads is in English and the other is in Russian. They are really trying to make the case to voters in the district that he has ties to Russia, that those ties are illicit, to raise the Mueller investigation and to say for those reasons they really should think twice about returning him to Washington.

    Sputnik: How likely are the voters in the US to change their mind about a candidate over these alleged or real links with Russia and does this really matter to them? I remember reading an article that was actually stating that less than two or one percent of Americans consider Russia to be a top issue anywhere regarding anything, whether it's day-to-day politics or elections. If so, why are the Democrats choosing this strategy? What's your take on that?

    Jeanne Zaino: That's exactly right. You see time and time again in elections, very rarely does a foreign policy issue rise to the top of the list of any voter's concerns. Usually, people are concerned about things that impact them on a day-to-day basis — healthcare, jobs, the economy or education. So, it's almost unheard of that a foreign policy issue would be on the mind of a voter voting in a district in California.

    That said, I think what Democrats are trying to do here, as much as possible throughout this election and across the country, is to keep the focus on President Trump who is widely unpopular amongst Democrats. And one way to do that is to talk about the Mueller investigation and to keep reminding people about the potential collusion and the 2016 elections.

    For that reason, I think this "tie him to Putin and tie him to Russia" with Rohrabacher is something they're trying to utilize. We also have to remember that the gentleman who is the leader after the second in command of the Republicans in the House of Representatives, Kevin McCarthy, at one point not long ago was caught on tape saying that the two people in DC who are closest to Putin are President Trump and Dana Rohrabacher.

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    So, they're sort of using the Republicans' own words against them to try to make voters think about this as they go to the poll. I don't think this is going to change any minds; I do think it's seen as something to try, if there somebody on the fence, to try to push them over, one way or the other.

    Sputnik: Is the average intellectual person in the street really buying into this or are they sick and tired of it? What do the people talk about with regard to this issue in your circle? Are they tired of it or is it something to keep discussing, has it still got a lot of mileage left in it?

    Jeanne Zaino: I think most thinking people say wait until the investigation is over, let's see what the prosecutor finds and we'll see what he sends to Congress once he's done and then we'll make a judgment. I think that's what most people are saying. I can tell you, most people are sick and tired of the day-to-day focus on this. It's been two years now and, of course, we're in the heat of this mid-term election, so all of that has become exacerbated.

    I think what most people would like is for Congress and the president to focus on issues that matter to them and unfortunately many of those issues in this election cycle have been pushed aside and the focus has been almost completely on this very tough campaign, because there's really good chance that the Republicans lose the house and they may lose the Senate. So, with just a few months to go in this campaign, it's pretty much eaten up all of the media coverage over here.

    Sputnik: In your opinion, why are the Democrats insisting on portraying Russia as an enemy? What's their long-term strategy in regard to Russia? I was listening to an expert this morning who was saying that the industrial military complex and the Deep State were very much the case when it came to Eisenhower and President Kennedy; it's almost backed to that. Is the Deep State running the country? Is it so important that Russia is perceived as the enemy nowadays in the US?

    Jeanne Zaino: It's fascinating, because if you had asked me that in 2015, I would have said that the Democrats are not really focused on Russia at all and haven't been for a while. But since the 2016 campaign, this has become something that they think they can use to gain more power; and I think that's what we're looking at. This about a campaign and this is more about winning a campaign and this is something they think they could use.

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    In terms of the long-term strategy towards Russia, I don't think the Democrats, and I would say quite frankly even the Republicans, have a very thought out long-term strategy.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Jeanne Zaino and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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    election meddling, voters, 2016 US Presidential election, Democrats, United States
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