A key detail from the news about Romney pal and GOP mega-donor Meg Whitman declaring “I’m with her.” Whitman didn’t just walk into Hillary’s camp. She was recruited. And if she was recruited, other Republicans are being recruited too.
“I will vote for Hillary, I will talk to my Republican friends about helping her, and I will donate to her campaign and try to raise money for her,” Ms. Whitman said in a telephone interview.
She revealed that Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic nominee, had reached out to her in a phone call about a month ago, one of the first indications that Mrs. Clinton is aggressively courting Republican leaders. While acknowledging she diverged from Mrs. Clinton on many policy issues, Ms. Whitman said it was time for Republicans “to put country first before party.”
Interesting timing. This isn’t a case of Team Clinton springing into action this week to capitalize on disgust over Trump’s scrap with the Khans. Hillary called Whitman before the conventions. She’s probably called many other Republicans since. In fact, if there’s an element of convenient timing here, it likely has less to do with when Hillary recruited Whitman than when she asked Whitman to go public about it, hoping that the news breaking now would compound the sense that Republicans are staging a mutiny against Trump. The Whitman story is, I’d guess, a carefully choreographed signal to Chamber of Commerce GOPers that there’s plenty of room still available on the Hillary train. And if that’s true, Team Clinton may already be preparing to roll out other big-name endorsements this week to amplify the perception of a GOP meltdown. Who’s next? I doubt Carly Fiorina would switch to Clinton after spending most of her primary campaign swinging a hatchet at her, but if there’s anyone Fiorina might like less than Hillary, it’s Trump.
Ed already wrote about some of the “Republican mutiny” stories circulating this morning but he didn’t get to all of them, as there were simply too many overnight to keep track of. Elsewhere in the Times:
Republicans now say Mr. Trump’s obstinacy in addressing perhaps the gravest crisis of his campaign may trigger drastic defections within the party, and Republican lawmakers and strategists have begun to entertain abandoning him en masse.
Mrs. Clinton, who explicitly courted Republicans at last week’s convention, has already picked up a few telling Republican endorsements: Meg Whitman, the Hewlett Packard Enterprise executive who ran for governor of California as a Republican, backed Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday, as did Representative Richard Hanna of New York, a moderate Republican. Both denounced Mr. Trump’s treatment of the Khan family.
I forgot about Hanna. In hindsight he, rather than Whitman, may have been the start of the choreographed drumbeat of Republican defections this week by Hillary’s campaign. A few other tidbits from reporters overnight:
longtime ally of Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign manager: "Manafort not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal."
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) August 3, 2016
A Trump campaign source, in reax to this, tells me "it's all true" and "way worse than people realize." https://t.co/nvioNcjMCJ
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) August 3, 2016
More from same source: The next 24 to 72 hours are crucial. There is serious talk about key Republicans coming out hard against Trump.
— Katy Tur (@KatyTurNBC) August 3, 2016
CNN also heard from a “knowledgeable” Republican source that Paul Manafort and other staffers now “feel like they are wasting their time” because Trump proved unwilling to defuse the Khan scrap. All of this was reported, mind you, before the news broke a few hours ago about the “intervention” that Reince plans on staging. If he, Gingrich, and Giuliani feel like something that dramatic is called for then they really must be worried about defections too. Although I don’t know why. Ed was right when he said earlier that unless and until Trump actually starts to hemorrhage votes, Republican pols aren’t going anywhere. Despite all the bad press this week, Trump is still polling consistently in the low 40s, as good as he was before the conventions, even as Hillary has inched a few points ahead. They’re not going to cut him loose in that position, especially with Wikileaks claiming that it has more dirt on Hillary that it’s planning to release. If Trump starts to slide and ends up in the mid-30s, though, with Hillary suddenly polling reliably above 50, then the GOP will suddenly look like that fireworks factory explosion in “The Naked Gun.” I doubt it’ll happen, but stay tuned.
Exit question: Are the overnight leaks about unhappiness within Team Trump the handiwork of Paul Manafort or Corey Lewandowski? Manafort might have leaked in exasperation, thinking that reports of campaign turmoil were the only way he could get through to Trump to get back on message. Lewandowski, who still has allies within the campaign, might have leaked opportunistically, thinking he could undermine Manafort by doing so and maybe get his old job back. Again, stay tuned.