Follow that last link and read this afternoon’s post for the strategic thinking here. This isn’t as silly as Evan McMullin’s candidacy insofar as there’s something meaningful to be gained by following the anti-Trump plan this time. Every dollar the RNC doesn’t spend on Trump can be spent on helping Pat Toomey win a nailbiter in Pennsylvania. The sooner you pull the plug on the presidential race, the more money there’ll be to protect the Senate. All you have to do to sell me on the idea is paint me a picture in which the RNC cuts the nominee loose in August, weeks before Trump has had his first chance at a gamechanger in the debates, and the Republican base doesn’t revolt at the RNC’s defeatism. YouGov released a poll yesterday showing that 55 percent of Republicans still believe Trump will win either narrowly or in a landslide. Even if the debates don’t change much, the fallout from the DNC hack will have Trump fans convinced until Election Day that a deus ex machina might be on the way to flip the election on its head. If you’re not prepared to stick with Trump to the bitter end, you have to at least stick with him until the debates, don’t you? Cutting him off before then will be viewed by his fans as a surrender, with a ferocious backlash to follow.
And I remind you, the entire point of the RNC playing ball with Trump for months now is to avoid that backlash. Their goal, purely and simply, is to minimize their culpability for Trump’s defeat in the eyes of Trump’s fans (while inadvertently maximizing it in the eyes of his critics), knowing full well that Trump is going to turn on them at some point and start claiming that the RNC stabbed him in the back. There’s nothing they can do to prevent that, but by sticking with him for as long as possible, they can make his argument less persuasive than it’ll be if they cut him off at the knees now.
“We believe that Donald Trump’s divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck,” states a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO. “This should not be a difficult decision, as Donald Trump’s chances of being elected president are evaporating by the day.”
Former Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire and former Reps. Chris Shays of Connecticut, Tom Coleman of Missouri and Vin Weber of Minnesota are among the Republicans lending their name to the letter. Close to 20 of the co-signers are former RNC staffers, including Mindy Finn (former RNC chief digital strategist), Christine Iverson Gunderson (former RNC press secretary), Virginia Hume Onufer (former RNC deputy press secretary), Beth Miller (former RNC field communications division director), Heather Layman (former deputy press secretary), B. Jay Cooper (former RNC communications director under four chairmen) and Patrick Ruffini (former RNC ecampaign director)…
“Those recent outrages have built on his campaign of anger and exclusion, during which he has mocked and offended millions of voters, including the disabled, women, Muslims, immigrants, and minorities,” the letter states. “He also has shown dangerous authoritarian tendencies, including threats to ban an entire religion from entering the country, order the military to break the law by torturing prisoners, kill the families of suspected terrorists, track law-abiding Muslim citizens in databases, and use executive orders to implement other illegal and unconstitutional measures.”
I don’t know. Most Republican voters seem pretty excited by those dangerous authoritarian tendencies, as long as they’re means to “politically incorrect” ends. If the right wants its party to become the National Front, why should Reince Priebus stand in their way? No one wants to end up on Sean Hannity’s enemies list. Better double down on this bet and let ol’ Pat Toomey take his chances with blue-drifting Pennsylvania.
Here’s one more obvious reason why the RNC won’t cut Trump loose anytime soon: The polls are bound to tighten somewhat, emphasis on “somewhat.” Clinton will have a bad week at some point; something will happen somewhere in the world that makes people crave a stronger hand in charge. Trump might have a decent debate. Or the polls might narrow organically in October as people start to focus on their vote. Hillary’s margin might not shrink much and it might not stay shrunk for long, but all Trump fans need is a glimmer of hope for a moment to justify turning around and blaming the RNC for cutting Trump off before he might have staged a heroic, world-beating comeback. And Reince knows it, which is why he’s going to bend over backwards to give Trump every opportunity. Stepping back and surveying the conservative media scene right now, it’s amazing how much energy is already being spent on recriminations and countermeasures against recriminations even though there are still nearly 100 days to Election Day. That’s the best explanation, I think, for the RNC continuing to ride this out with Trump: They see that they’re going to be scapegoated no matter what and they’re doing what they can to deny Trump firm ground to argue that they cut bait too soon. If that means sacrificing an extra Senate seat or two in the process, hey. At least it’ll keep the party together after November, sort of, right?
Here’s Trump earlier today arguing that, with interest rates low, now would be a fine time to borrow to help fund half a trillion dollars in infrastructure upgrades. That idea coming from Obama would be a laugh line for 48 hours in conservative media about liberals dealing another blow to the national debt to fund their stimulus boondoggles, but we are where we are.