(CNN)A week earlier their enactment endured heavy losses successful Virginia, immoderate of the astir susceptible House Democrats privately debated however to respond to pointed GOP attacks connected an contented that has been percolating successful districts crossed the country: critical contention theory.
With Republicans again embracing the civilization wars, a twelvemonth aft successfully attacking Democrats implicit the defund the constabulary question successful House races nationwide, leaders of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee past week presented probe and debated however to grip the once-obscure taxable that is chiefly taught astatine the assemblage level but has go a absorption connected the right, according to aggregate radical acquainted with the matter.
And a divided emerged betwixt 2 of the party's frontline Democrats: Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux of Georgia, who is White, and Lauren Underwood of Illinois, who is Black. Underwood wanted to forcefully antagonistic the GOP's misinformation head-on, portion Bourdeaux was leery astir elevating the issue, according to sources acquainted with the matter. Rep. Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, different Black woman, sided with Underwood during the meeting.
"We person a rising American electorate that are Black and brownish people," Underwood told CNN erstwhile asked astir the episode. "We should beryllium capable to talk to their issues, their experiences arsenic Americans successful this country, without feeling similar it's a liability for different audiences."
Bourdeaux acknowledged it was "one of galore conversations among members from competitory districts astir however to prosecute with our divers and wide constituencies."
Their back-and-forth offers a preview of the interior statement to travel for Democrats arsenic they travel to grips with their losses successful Virginia, wherever acquisition issues became a lightning rod and Republicans are already signaling they program to marque the "concerns of parents," a centerpiece of their midterm strategy.
Democratic leaders accidental the acquisition from their mediocre show successful Virginia, wherever they were swept successful each 3 statewide races successful a authorities President Joe Biden won by 10 points successful 2020, is to walk their sweeping agenda immediately.
But determination is besides a increasing designation that they request to code issues that resonate connected the close arsenic good -- particularly successful plaything districts.
"If you don't negociate the message, the connection volition surely negociate you," Phillips said. "And we're being subjected to that."
The word "critical contention theory" refers to the world conception that racism has been systematically ingrained successful American nine pursuing centuries of slavery. But conservatives person much precocious attempted to recast the phrase, claiming it teaches children to deliberation that the United States is racist.
The caller speech implicit captious contention mentation evoked the Democratic party's struggles successful 2020, erstwhile they failed successful immoderate races to efficaciously antagonistic Republican attacks that disagreement the left, including the "defund the police" slogan. In predetermination autopsies, Democrats determined their deficiency of a coherent and convincing connection connected the taxable was a cardinal crushed wherefore they mislaid seats.
Now, aft picking up seats past year, Republicans lone request to triumph a nett of 5 seats to instrumentality backmost the House.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the New York Democrat who chairs the DCCC, said the speech betwixt Underwood and Bourdeaux was "completely unremarkable and respectful."
"It was 2 members talking astir and efficaciously responding to Republican efforts to usage contention to disagreement Americans," helium told CNN. "One of the lessons from 2020 (is) we're going to respond to Republican lies."
Still, the occurrence shows the enactment has varying viewpoints astir its messaging strategy connected the issue. Rep. Steven Horsford of Nevada, who represents a frontline district, called the GOP's tactics "deplorable" and said the lone mode to antagonistic them is with the "truth."
"We request much truth. We request much transparency. We request much honorable conversations astir what's truly the underlying issue," Horsford told CNN. "About everything from our history, to our circumstances, to systemic issues that make inequities."
He added: "I don't judge successful ignoring tactics that pit 1 radical of radical against another."
Phillips agreed, saying: "I'm saddened by the information that we aren't capable to make a communicative that is much truthful astir what's going on, due to the fact that captious contention mentation is not taught successful simple schools oregon precocious schools. And it's clip that we commencement articulating that a small better."
But immoderate Democrats deliberation it's not ever productive to respond to each Republican talking point, and judge that messaging should beryllium tailored to each person's district.
"What I effort to bash is not to get each caught up successful what the GOP is saying astir maine oregon astir my party, but astir things that I person identified arsenic being existent salient issues successful my district," said Rep. Susan Wild of Pennsylvania, different front-liner.
Republicans including Virginia gubernatorial campaigner Glenn Youngkin person tried to unit Democrats to either support captious contention theory, a non-issue successful governmental races until erstwhile President Donald Trump declared it a villain past year, oregon look a backlash from immoderate connected the left.
Aside from captious contention theory, Republicans person besides campaigned connected parents' vexation implicit schoolhouse closures and vaccine and disguise mandates. Now, the enactment is packaging it each nether the umbrella of acquisition issues arsenic portion of its blueprint to triumph backmost the House adjacent year. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced astatine a quality league connected Wednesday that the GOP plans to soon unveil a "Parental Bill of Rights."
"The 1 happening you volition find is, the Republican Party volition beryllium the enactment of education," McCarthy said, earlier predicting Democrats could suffer implicit 60 seats successful the midterms.
And immoderate Democrats admit that they request to absorption connected acquisition to support their seats successful 2022.
"I got to admit that Glenn Youngkin tapped into, successful presumption of concerns astir acquisition astatine the section level, helium touched a nerve," said Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat. "Those of america connected the Democratic broadside request to beryllium backmost and deliberation astir however we code that."
Asked however they should code that, Warner said that volition beryllium "part of the aboriginal debate."
CNN's Morgan Rimmer and Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.