Left’s freak-out over Project 2025 means ‘we’re right over the target,’ Heritage chief says

(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

Leftists are assailing the conservative movement’s Project 2025 because they know that what they’ve done to the nation won’t stand up to common sense, Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts told Fox News host Will Cain on Monday in a discussion of the outcry.

“You might say that all of this attention means we’re right over the target,” Roberts quipped.

Amid open panic among some Democrats over President Joe Biden’s mental decline, leftist pundits have pushed Project 2025 to the front and center of their national messaging—with many claiming that it’s a secret blueprint to turn the United States into a dystopian “fascist state.”

In a 20-minute monologue lambasting the project, comedian John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” claimed that Project 2025 stemmed from an “impulse as old as America”—that “one class of Americans is entitled to lead, and the rest of us are lucky to be alive to serve.”

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However, Heritage’s Roberts described Project 2025 to Cain as “the most organized set of policy ideas that the conservative movement has ever put together in history,” noting that over a hundred organizations contributed.

Heritage’s president also clarified that Project 2025 isn’t a list of marching orders, but a “menu of what grassroots conservatives who have been subjugated by the Left’s concentration of power in Washington and state capitals around the country” desire to accomplish.

The Biden-Harris reelection campaign wrote in a social media post July 4 that America under “Donald Trump’s Project 2025” would resemble the dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The organizers of Project 2025, which Heritage spearheads, offered to make a presentation on it to every candidate seeking his or her party’s presidential nomination before the 2024 primaries took place—Republicans and Democrats, including Biden.

In the past two months, though, Project 2025 has been the target of campaign ads and social media posts from the Biden-Harris campaign and from liberal journalists and pundits—becoming an anchor point for warnings from the Left about Trump’s potential return.

But Trump appeared to distance himself from Project 2025 over the weekend, posting on both Facebook and his own Truth Social:

I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.

When Cain asked Roberts about the former president’s posts, he first responded that neither he nor The Heritage Foundation harbored any “hard feelings” toward the former president.

Roberts then suggested that Trump appeared to  make a shrewd pivot that “politically made sense,” since left-wing critics would have little to attack him with once he clarified that Project 2025 wasn’t an invention of his campaign. Heritage’s president said:

President Trump’s the boss. If he wins, he’s going to make the decisions. Project 2025 is merely a menu from which he might be able to choose, and as a database of personnel willing to go into office and work for him if he so chooses … this is a reflection of grassroots conservatism. It is a reflection, regardless of what anyone thinks on the Left, Right, or the center, of the most unified project in the history of the conservative movement—and it’s not going anywhere.

Cain pressed Roberts on whether Trump distanced himself from Project 2025 because the Left “successfully demonized” the project or because “he has substantively policy disagreements with some of what you’ve recommended?”

Roberts asserted the former, noting that millions of dollars worth of attack ads from Biden and PAC allies have been devoted to personal attacks on both Trump and Project 2025:

I think if you look at the spending against Project 2025 by the Biden campaign and whatever affiliated super PACs have spent, … if you’re trying to win a campaign and Project 2025 has become the one thing that the Left can talk about—because they can’t defend Biden’s record or, frankly, his mental capabilities, [and] I don’t say that to be ugly toward him as a person—then you’ve got to turn to something else.

They can’t turn to President Trump’s record as president, because it was terrific. So they’ve found this one ‘boogeyman’ in Project 2025. If you’re the political candidate who is sort of victimized by this amount of spending on this, it makes perfect political sense to [distance yourself].

Trump appears to be making a concerted effort to build a broader “big tent coalition” in this election campaign, compared with 2016 and 2020.

Regarding specifics in policy differences, Cain asked Roberts about Trump’s more moderate position on abortion versus the traditional conservative policy position of being staunchly pro-life.

Roberts responded that Project 2025 includes ultimate goals to move toward and some of them might not be realized until a cultural shift in the United States takes place.

“The point of Project 2025 is not to say that 100% of this must be implemented by the next president,” Roberts said. “We’ve never been that presumptuous, in fact the whole point of this is to be of service to any administration, though more likely to be of service to a conservative one.”

Roberts also argued that the “Schedule F” section of Project 2025 wasn’t to produce “yes men” for a presidential administration, but to reduce the size of the resistant administrative state and reevaluate the duties and authorities of regulatory agencies in the executive branch.

As a historian of early America, Roberts noted that in the early days of the American republic, all executive agency staff (except the military) were political appointees and not lifelong, bureaucratic employees such as those in today’s State and Education departments.

Cain described the current framing of Project 2025 on social media as a “war of characterization” not of criticisms, since those “lacked any substance.”

Featured posts included an accusation of “white Christian nationalism” from Mark Ruffalo and a pathway to what the actor who plays Marvel’s the Hulk describes as “forced birth and forced religion” under “Trump’s American Taliban.”

Roberts quipped that Ruffalo “needs to take a class on reading comprehension and logic.” As a former history and logic teacher, he said, he gave Ruffalo an “F minus” for using the strawman fallacy.

Roberts also announced that over the next few weeks, The Heritage Foundation would launch a campaign to clear up myths about Project 2025 and “punch back against the radical Left” along with Trump.

Ken McIntyre contributed to this report.

[Editor’s note: This story originally was published by The Daily Signal.]

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