Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of California probably wasn't expecting hard-hitting questions when he agreed to appear on CNN. To the network's credit, however, anchor Jim Sciutto was persistent in trying to get an answer on a questionable Democratic strategy heading into the midterms.
In an effort to "limit their losses" in the 2022 elections, Sciutto noted Democrats are trying to "paint Republicans as extremists," such as those who challenge the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
"At the same time, you have Democratic groups backing some of those same extremist Republican candidates," he continued, pointing to Maryland, where the Trump-backed candidate Dan Cox defeated Kelly Schulz, Gov. Larry Hogan's chosen successor in the gubernatorial primary earlier this month. Cox was buoyed in part by big spending from the Democratic Governors Association, which saw him as an easier candidate to beat in the midterms.
"Does that work for you? Is that not fundamentally contradictory?" Sciutto asked.
Padilla side-stepped the question.
"The bottom line is making a clear contrast for voters to decide this November who to vote for," he replied. "We know what the nation needs. We need investments in job creation domestically. We need to tackle costs for working families. How do we bring down the costs for prescription drugs? How do we bring down the cost of childcare? How do we bring down the cost of the areas where we're facing inflation. Democrats have plans that have been stifled because of Republican opposition in Congress. So, let's make that abundantly clear for voters. You want to restore a woman's right to choose? Vote for Democrats. You want to tackle climate aggressively? Vote for Democrats. It's creating the contrast that I think is going to continue to bolster our chances in November."
Sciutto tried again.
"I get that point. But part of the Democratic case here, you hear it from senior Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi among them, is that some of these Republican candidates and Trump himself are a threat to democracy," he asked. "How can Democrats say that but then back some of those election deniers in their own races?"
Padilla again avoided directly answering.
"Look, it's going to be up to candidates across the board to pose those questions for Republican candidates to answer. Do you believe climate change is real or not? Do you believe a woman should be able to make the decisions on her own body or not? Be public, be on the record, and let the voters decide."