Just imagine the following scenario: During a future Republican presidential primary battle, Trump fires off a series of controversial tweets on the news of the day. Democrats, and the media, line up to attack Trump for spreading hate. How do Republican candidates respond?
Republicans could side with Trump when asked, once again tying themselves to him. Alternatively, they could try to criticize him in an effort to create distance. But doing so would only alienate Trump voters — a segment of the party who any candidate would likely have to win over or at least mollify to capture a nomination. And the famously thin-skinned Trump would not hesitate to attack any Republican candidate who criticizes him as weak and a loser.
Republicans may try to dismiss the inevitable questions about Trump and his legacy from the media, but they will be inevitable. Trump has a knack for injecting himself into the conversation, and his running commentary will be hard to ignore.