Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Referendum on Trump’s Misconduct

Polls show that Trump has galvanized progressives, liberals, and moderates to oppose the Republican Party - now a "Trump Brand."

Representative Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania announced on Sunday that he would join a long list of more than 40 other congressional Republicans in not seeking re-election in November.

Republicans have been bracing for a punishing election in November. They are alarmed that their losses may be far worse because the midterm appears to turn more on Trump's "adolescent" behavior."

As much as gun control, immigration, and the tax overhaul are mobilizing voters on the far right, the seamy sex allegations and Mr. Trump’s erratic style could end up alienating blocs of conservative suburban voters and conservative women who find the president’s purported sex antics to be reprehensible.

There is broad consensus that Donald Trump is a lewd degenerate the pornographic film actress and director, told “60 Minutes.” However, Trump dropping his pants at Daniels’s command for a spanking may dampen the diapers of Trump-bots.

This image of their 'leader' has created a real dilemma for Republicans, especially in "judge not" bible belt states where judgement is harshest.

If republican candidates remain faithful to Trump, they risk incurring the wrath of the political center and religious right during the general election, dooming their campaigns.

But if they disavow the president, they depress turnout from their core uninformed Republican believers and watch their volunteer pool evaporate in the midday sun.

“It’s a political Catch-22,” J. Tucker Martin, a Virginia Republican strategist, said. “Candidates can’t win without their base. But what it takes to satisfy a pro-Trump base in 2018 will make Republican candidates unacceptable...”

There does not appear to be any middle ground: Mr. Martin’s candidate for governor of Virginia last November, Ed Gillespie, sought to avoid Trump, and he was soundly defeated.

At this point, many republicans are consumed with surviving their party nomination contests.

In the two states where Republicans are most at risk of losing Senate seats, the GOP’s leading candidates have aligned themselves with Mr. Trump in an attempt to preempt a challenge from their right flank in the primary. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada and Representative Martha McSally of Arizona have both praised Mr. Trump. Neither are strong candidates so it's "bully for them."

Such pro v. anti-Trump calculations in the GOP amount to political malpractice, say Democrats (holding back laughter).

“Trump is way more than the proverbial elephant in the room — he’s the elephant in the room with bad breath, B.O. and a foul mouth,” said Ace Smith, a veteran Democratic consultant.

Democrats think that Trump overwhelms the political conversation. “I don’t see headlines with: ‘Porn star sues Nancy Pelosi,’” said Representative Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana Democrat.

Just as gun control has put Republican candidates on the defensive after Saturday’s student-led demonstrations, Mr. Trump’s behavior is backing candidates into a corner.

In an illustration of how firm Trump’s grip is on the party base, the president’s past comments about groping women have become an issue in some races only because pro-Trump candidates are attacking Republican rivals for abandoning him over the infamous “Access Hollywood” remarks.

The party’s embrace of Trump's behind is most obvious in Midwestern states where he triumphed in 2016, and where Senate and governor’s races are now underway.

In Indiana, three candidates for Senate have each tried to position themselves as steadfast supporters of the White House, and one predicted Mr. Trump could earn a Nobel Peace Prize. In Ohio, Republicans running for Senate are boasting of having supported Mr. Trump before their states’ primaries in 2016.

But in other conservative-leaning Midwestern states, there is a deep recognition that Trump’s volatile persona is a problem. In Missouri, home to one of the nation’s most competitive Senate races, Mr. Trump swooped in this month to headline a fund-raiser for Josh Hawley, the mild-mannered state attorney general challenging Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat.

Trump used the occasion to brag about bluffing his way, using made-up facts, through a phone call with Canada’s prime minister — a boast that made international news.

Former Senator John C. Danforth, a Missouri Republican who backs Mr. Hawley, called the president a challenging force [read albatross around the neck] in the race. Voters, he said, “object to [Trump] on the basis of his style and demeanor...”

Mr. Danforth said he was hopeful voters would distinguish Republicans like Mr. Hawley from Trump, rather than rejecting “anybody who has the same label.” But as Mr. Costello noted that Trump’s persona not only fuels liberal activism — it also makes it impossible to talk about Republican policy.

“He [Trump] blocks everything else out,” Mr. Costello said of the president. “What fuels the energy isn’t the issues. It’s that [abhorrent] personality.”

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