The tip of the spear is the Club for Growth, a group that was helping to elect anti-establishmentarians like Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint to the Senate before the tea party had even formed. More recently they dropped millions on Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign in 2012 to make sure there was another true conservative in the GOP caucus to hold the line on spending. Until recently, their archenemy in Republican circles was Mike Huckabee, whom they’ve knocked for years as a tax-and-spend big-government Republican.
But none of that will matter now.
“What we’ve said to our members is that ‘Trump is a liability to the future of the nation,’ and we’ve asked them for support for Club for Growth Action to get that message out,” Club for Growth President David McIntosh said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We’re also doing research, like we do on candidates, into his economic policy positions. At this point, we haven’t taken anything off the table – be it TV ads or any other means – to expose Trump as not being an economic conservative, and as actually being the worst kind of politician.”
But the group’s pitch has been met with skepticism among some top GOP financiers, who believe that any effort to attack the real estate mogul could backfire, according to a person familiar with the conversations granted anonymity to speak frankly…
After Trump talked in Iowa earlier this summer about pressure he would apply of Ford Motor Company to move more of their overseas operations back to the U.S., McIntosh released a statement accusing Trump of threatening “to impose new taxes on U.S. car companies will hurt the American economy and cost more American jobs.”
Hey, protectionism is a cherished Republican value. (No, really. It is!) The question: Why is the Club for Growth leading the charge and why now? The answer, I assume, is that none of the campaigns, including Jeb’s, wanted to drop any dough on attack ads this early in the primaries. Scrapping with Trump hasn’t done anything for his critics in the presidential field so far, and if anyone’s going to hit him hard, it makes more sense to do so later when more voters are paying attention to the race in anticipation of voting. Plus, why waste precious dollars on trying to take down Trump if, as many expect, he’ll fade in due course anyway? The CFG has less to lose in taking him on, and because they’ve helped so many other candidates in the field (Rubio and Paul also got elected with help from the Club), they don’t need to worry about any top-tier rivals of Trump’s siding with him when he counterattacks. (And he will counterattack, of course. A few weeks ago he sneered in an interview with Breitbart that the Club is a “pack of thieves.”) The plan, I assume, is to try to weaken Trump in September and October and then, if he’s still leading the race, let rival campaigns unload on him starting this winter.
Will it work, though? Rick Perry called Trump a cancer on conservatism and no one blinked. Rand Paul’s taken to calling him a “fake conservative” and claiming that nominating Trump would lead to the worst beating the GOP’s taken in a general election since 1964 (ironically, a claim often made by Paul critics about the prospects for a President Rand) and Paul’s been sinking in the polls while Trump keeps climbing. Trump may be a rare example of a Republican moderate whose populist cred is now so great that it’s left him largely immune to charges of RINOism. Free advice for the Club: Listen to Harry Enten on this one.
The way you beat Trump isn't by proving he isn't conservative. It's by proving that he's just another politician.
— Harry Enten (@ForecasterEnten) September 4, 2015
Right. Erode his populist support and there’s nothing to prop him up. That means more ads about eminent domain abuse and fewer ones about tax hikes on the rich. Highlight cases of Trump exploiting “the little guy” and maybe you’ve got something. Enlisting someone respected by grassroots righties to critique him would help too, but people like that are in short supply. Apart from Glenn Beck, conservative talk radio seems happy as can be with Trumpmania. Maybe Jim DeMint could move the needle? Coburn? Who else?