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‘Economic Patriotism’: One Democrat’s Campaign Tour May Signal Bipartisan Progress

Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California is running a campaign focused on “economic patriotism” across the Midwest, according to Politico.

Khanna, 45, has been traveling across the Rust Belt recently, visiting small-town manufacturing units, according to Politico. In late August, the California congressman – running for reelection in the 17th District covering Silicon Valley towns Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and San Jose – instead visited several rural manufacturing towns in Indiana, Wisconsin and Iowa, including Janesville and Dubuque.

The reason for his visits is unclear, though Khanna represents a district rated of D+23 per the Cook Partisan Voting Index, that Democrats are projected to win. However, Khanna has been articulating a message geared towards increasingly Republican Rust-Belt voters.

“Economic patriotism” is the key plank of Khanna’s message. In speeches given across the Midwest, Khanna extolled the need to bring new manufacturing jobs, particularly in technologically-intensive sectors, across the country.

“Make more stuff here, build our productive capacity, buy American,” he said, repeating themes in a new book, ‘Dignity in a Digital Age: Making Tech Work for all of Us,’ he authored on the subject.

“I just think we’ve got to wake up as a country across the political divide and come together on how we build the next generation of manufacturing in America,” he told Politico. “And we’ve got to get these jobs not just in Silicon Valley, or New York or Austin, but around the country.”

The experience is not Khanna’s first time focused on manufacturing. In 2020, he served as the co-Chair of Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination. Those campaigns focused heavily on restoring manufacturing jobs, with a protectionist message that dovetailed with rhetoric by former President Donald Trump.

The experience is but one of many bipartisan moments for Khanna, who has a reputation of working with Republicans in Congress. He co-sponsored the Endless Frontier Act with Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, which later became law in August as the CHIPS and Science Act, among other bipartisan bills.

Khanna is also a frequent guest on conservative media programs, including ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight’ on Fox News.

The Congressman appears to have received a positive reception from community leaders.

“Awesome,” said Brian Sheehan, the development director of Rushville, Indiana, when speaking of Khanna’s performance.

“I hope that you’re running for a higher office,” said Mayor Greg York of New Castle, Indiana, who voted for Trump in 2016, to Khanna, according to Politico.

Khanna has said that he doesn’t plan on running for president in 2024, the outlet reported. However, Khanna’s college and law school friend Renato Mariotti has suggested otherwise. “Traveling around the country and building a nationwide network is something that you only do if you have presidential ambitions,” he said.

Top figures from Sanders’ campaign, including former campaign manager Jeff Weaver and senior advisor Mark Lonabaugh, have been encouraging Khanna to run for president in 2024, should President Joe Biden decline to seek re-election, according to Politico.

Khanna’s office did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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