I’m not a fan of his but this needs to be called out. Mannnnnnnnnn, is it cynical. It’s like attacking Matt Gaetz for being “anti-Trump,” except that that argument might actually be more persuasive than the one here. Watch, then read on.
— Senate Republicans (@NRSC) February 27, 2020
Why is the NRSC unloading on a guy who spent most of his waking hours between September and January of this year spinning every which way for the president on impeachment? If you’re following the Georgia Senate race, you know why. If you’re not following it, catch up with this post from last month. Against Trump’s wishes, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Kelly Loeffler to fill the Senate vacancy left by retiring Johnny Isakson. Trump wanted the seat to go to Collins as a reward for loyalty; Collins badly wanted it too. Kemp shrugged them off and named newbie politician Loeffler to the seat instead, believing that she’d play better with suburbanites and increase the GOP’s chances of winning a special election for the seat this year.
Loeffler’s an unknown quantity, though, and had been attacked as a RINO by pro-Collins Trumpers while Kemp was mulling his choice. She’s a mega-rich businesswoman, much more of a classic Romney Republican than Collins, the populist MAGA favorite, is. So Collins decided to throw his hat in the ring and challenge Loeffler in the primary for the special election. Establishment Republicans were furious: Georgia’s a purplish state now and Loeffler will need a unified party behind her to win. A bitter primary with Collins substantially raises the odds of some of his fans staying home if she prevails in Georgia’s jungle primary and advances to a runoff. (Without Collins in the race, there was a chance Loeffler would win more than 50 percent of the vote on Election Day and win the seat outright, without a runoff.) Collins didn’t care. He wanted the seat and he was coming for it.
Since then Trump and the NRSC have used carrot and stick to try to get him to reconsider. Trump announced that Collins was on the short list to be the new director of national intelligence. No thanks, said Collins. The NRSC then took to leaning on people, warning them that if they did business with Collins’s campaign then they wouldn’t be doing business with the NRSC going forward. A Collins fundraiser was canceled when the NRSC circulated an email showing that music-industry groups who were set to host it donated primarily to Democrats. Ad vendors are being warned not to work for him, and allies of Loeffler are reportedly forming a group that intends to match anything Collins spends on attack ads — which is in addition to the $20 million Loeffler said she’d be willing to spend on the race.
He did find one less well-known ad vendor willing to work for him, which made this:
— Doug Collins (@CollinsforGA) February 24, 2020
Loeffler herself has laid off Collins thus far, preferring to try to build goodwill among righties instead by running ads attacking Bernie Sanders. But in light of the NRSC ad above, it looks like she and they are running a good cop/bad cop strategy: Loeffler will avoid roundhousing Collins, not wanting to antagonize his populist fans, but the NRSC will happily do it in the name of knocking him down in the polls. Cynical, but effective potentially.
The NRSC ad is *really* cynical, though. Why? Because many Republicans in the Senate right now said harsher things about Trump in 2016 than Collins did. And that crop of anti-Trump incumbents includes some of the most endangered GOPers on the ballot this year, people whom the NRSC itself will spend big, big money to try to reelect. Pop quiz: Who wrote this in August 2016, after Trump had been formally nominated?
With the passage of time, I have become increasingly dismayed by his constant stream of cruel comments and his inability to admit error or apologize. But it was his attacks directed at people who could not respond on an equal footing — either because they do not share his power or stature or because professional responsibility precluded them from engaging at such a level — that revealed Mr. Trump as unworthy of being our president.
My conclusion about Mr. Trump’s unsuitability for office is based on his disregard for the precept of treating others with respect, an idea that should transcend politics. Instead, he opts to mock the vulnerable and inflame prejudices by attacking ethnic and religious minorities. Three incidents in particular have led me to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Trump lacks the temperament, self-discipline and judgment required to be president.
That’s the other Collins — Susan Collins, who may be sunk in Maine this year because of a backlash to Trump there. The other highly vulnerable Republican running this fall, Cory Gardner, called for Trump to drop out of the race on the day the “Access Hollywood” tape dropped in October 2016 and vowed not to vote for him. The NRSC will dump truckloads of cash on him this fall. Ben Sasse and Dan Sullivan also declined to vote for someone other than Trump in 2016, by their own admission; they’re on the ballot this year too and will be dutifully supported by the NRSC. Lisa Murkowski and even Lindsey Graham(!) opted against voting for Trump that year as well, with Graham choosing Evan McMullin instead.
And what about the guy from Utah, the one who spoke out harshly against Trump during the campaign and ended up voting for someone else on Election Day?
No, not Romney. I mean the other guy from Utah. The one whom the NRSC would never dare dream of opposing, even though he used to be much more of a Trump critic than Doug Collins ever was and is (somewhat) less of a Trump apologist than Doug Collins has now become. If the NRSC wants to hold people to account for not being sufficiently stooge-like since 2016 in their Trump support, that’s fine — it’s what personality cults are all about. But they’re going to be called on it when the standards are applied unevenly.
One more thing about the ad. It’s either stupid or pernicious of them to ding Collins for his warm relations with three famous black Democrats. Maybe it’s just a coincidence. There are neutral possibilities for including Obama, Stacey Abrams, and Hakeem Jeffries in the ad, after all: Obama is righties’ least favorite liberal, Jeffries was an impeachment manager at Trump’s trial, and Abrams has been annoying Georgia Republicans for two years by claiming that the last gubernatorial election was stolen from her. The NRSC had soundbites of Collins praising Abrams and Jeffries and they had a photo of him being minimally cordial with Obama, so there you go. Nothing more to it than that. Lefties are killing them today for seemingly playing racial politics here, though, an attack that was foreseeable when they decided to go this route. I sure hope it was nothing more than stupidity that led them to choose these three Dems over others. The ad may be more trouble than it’s worth to Team Loeffler.