This hasn't been a good election cycle for Paul Ryan. He got muscled out of the early running for the presidential nomination by a
a bunch of buffoons The Deep Bench and then he wound up jumping on the Trump Train to nowhere. It's been all downhill from there and yesterday Trump took a couple of seconds out of his busy schedule attacking CNN to fart in Ryan's face:
This morning Trump was on twitter again, attacking Ryan again, delusional and ranting that he won the debate– he didn't– and that Ryan is a “very weak and ineffective leader,” adding that Ryan had “had a bad conference call where his members went wild at his disloyalty.” He seems to be setting Ryan up as someone he can blame after he loses next month. “It's hard to do well,” he tweeted this morning, “when Paul Ryan and others give zero support.” Ryan may soon learn with the ire of the deplorables is worth in terms of votes.
Now pundits on Politico are debating whether or not he'll unendorse his party's vulgarian presidential nominee. “He feels torn between his own conscience and his obligations as the top Republican in the country… about saving his massive 60-seat majority… Many of his closest allies say left to his own devices, he'd dump Trump. But Ryan, who's seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2020, has held on, despite some possible long-term political upside of abandoning Trump. The immediate calculation is this: If Ryan pulls his endorsement, the base could revolt or stay home on Election Day, damaging GOP House candidates. Plus, in some of the deep red districts around the country, constituents want House Republicans to rally around Trump no matter what.” Trump was reacting to the conference call that Ryan had with the House Republican conference early Monday morning after a tumultuous weekend for Trump that ended in another disastrous debate performance Sunday night. Trump allies inside Ryan's conference immediately reported to Trump Tower that Ryan had signaled he was giving up on the idea of the GOP winning the White House and is now strictly focused on “ensuring Hillary Clinton doesn't get a blank check as president with a Democratic-controlled Congress.”
Even as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called on Paul Ryan to unendorse Trump, Ryan said he's done defendingTrump's outlandish statements and that he won't campaign with him or for him and that other members are on their own in deciding what to do about Trump. “You all need to do what's best for you in your district,” he was reported to have said. In their reporting, for the NYTimes, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin called Ryan's call “a hammer blow to Donald J. Trump’s presidential candidacy Monday, dashing any remaining semblance of party unity and inviting fierce backlash from his own caucus.” The Journal Sentinel editors wrote that Ryan “has tiptoed to the water’s edge but he still won’t jump in. If he really wants to maintain the integrity of the Republican Party and its principles– and save down ticket candidates– Ryan needs to repudiate his endorsement of GOP nominee Donald Trump. Instead, Ryan keeps dancing around the edges… [H]e thinks by doing so, he would endanger his party’s chances of winning other elections, especially in the House. But by continuing to stand by (if somewhat apart) the GOP pretender for the presidency, Ryan calls into question the party’s basic principles, which ultimately may have the opposite effect of what he wants… Ryan and other Republican leaders should make clear that they will fight tooth and nail for the Republican Party but that Donald Trump does not deserve their endorsements.”
There was a backlash from Trumpists on Ryan's call– the kind of Republicans who voted against the Violence Against Women Act and see nothing wrong with Trump's attitude and behavior towards women. Like California nincompoop Dana Rohrabacher (who sits safely in an R+7 district the DCCC isn't contesting. Rohrabacher raised $713,881 compared to his grassroots opponent's $54,155). He “attacked Republicans stepping away from Mr. Trump as 'cowards,' three lawmakers said. Another, Representative Trent Franks of Arizona, used graphic language to describe abortion and said allowing Mrs. Clinton into the White House would end with fetuses being destroyed 'limb from limb.'” Franks, who many inside the GOP caucus say is certifiably insane– torn apart internally because by his struggle against his own homosexuality while attempting to be the most anti-gay member of a very anti-gay party– is in an even redder district that Rohrabacher. His hellhole in the Arizona desert has a PVI of R+15 and his district is so ignored by the DCCC that his only opponent is a write-in candidate!
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Mr. Ryan, confirmed that his sole priority for the remainder of the election would be defending congressional Republicans.
“The speaker is going to spend the next month focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities,” Ms. Strong said.
Ms. Strong said there was “no update” regarding Mr. Ryan’s endorsement of Mr. Trump.
The breach between Mr. Ryan and Mr. Trump concluded five months in which the two men have alternated between friction and courtship, eventually forging an uneasy working relationship only to see it collapse in the final weeks of the race.
The consequences for both men are enormous. Mr. Ryan and other Republican leaders fear that Mr. Trump’s flagging campaign could unwind their majorities in the House and Senate, while Mr. Trump can ill afford rejection from more prominent Republicans.
…Representative Scott Rigell of Virginia, a Republican who has long been opposed to Mr. Trump, said there was a general sense in the House that more humiliating disclosures about Mr. Trump were likely to come before Nov. 8, Election Day.
“There’s a consensus, even among supporters, that the likelihood of something else breaking in a very embarrassing and negative fashion, is certainly better than 50-50,” said Mr. Rigell, who joined the call on Monday. “The conference, members, et cetera, are bracing themselves for another salvo of this.”
…[I]n a potentially ominous sign for the party, Kellyanne Conway, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, also offered a note of warning for Republicans fleeing Mr. Trump. Mr. Ryan, she noted on television, had been booed by Trump fans over the weekend in Wisconsin after asking Mr. Trump not to attend a political event in his home state.
Ms. Conway also repeatedly indicated that she was aware of Republican lawmakers who had behaved inappropriately toward young women, and whose criticism of Mr. Trump was therefore hypocritical.
And it wasn't just Kellyanne signaling that there would be a price to pay if the GOP officially abandons Trump. Trump's somewhat psychotic official spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, tweeted Monday that “people from all over the country” will vote for Trump but not for down ballot candidates. Music to Ryan's ears? Yeah… Ted Nugent's unreleased solo album.
Back to Ryan's call for a moment. The fear, of course, isn't really about Trump– they all wish Trump Force One would crash and burn– it's about the “best” strategy for keeping a House majority they feel is starting to slip from their grasp.
Representative Greg Walden of Oregon, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, urged members on the conference call to take new polls in their districts to gauge the impact of Mr. Trump’s political slide.
Mr. Walden said they should brace for a steep erosion of support for Mr. Trump and acknowledged the falloff could undermine congressional candidates, too. He asked the entire caucus to contribute quickly to the party’s campaign arm, making it clear they needed to bolster their defenses across the country.
Still, many members were pointed in their expressions of dismay, warning Mr. Ryan of grave consequences, in November and beyond, if Mr. Trump’s campaign collapses altogether. Representative Billy Long of Missouri spoke up in Mr. Trump’s defense, citing the danger of losing the Supreme Court in the event of a Clinton victory.
“Many of us commented that if Hillary picks the next two to four judges, it will change the fabric of our country of 40, 50 years,” Mr. Long said of the call. “Abortion and the Second Amendment, also, and lots of Supreme Court concerns.”
The DSCC is running ads based on the video above. Republicans are in a damned if you do/damned if you don't situation with Trump. And many of them are too frightened to take a coherent stand. Very endangered Long Island Congressman Peter King, for example, tells people on one day that Trump is unfit for office and follows that up the next day by urging them to vote for him. Voters are starting it think he's as crazy as Trump is. Yesterday, the Cincinnati Enquirer, in light of the new TV that and all but dead Ted Strickland campaign just released (below), wrote that late on Saturday, Senator Rob Portman, “who had spent months defending or dodging Trump's missteps, said he couldn't vote for the GOP nominee. He would write in GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence instead. (Although a vote for Pence wouldn't even count because he isn't an official write-in candidate.)”
Portman's about-face almost certainly hurts him with devoted Trump supporters. At a Warren County debate watch party Sunday night, Betty Dubin said she wouldn't vote for Portman after the senator abandoned Trump. Voters like Dubin won't vote for Strickland, but Democrats hope they skip the Senate race when casting their ballots.
Portman's change of heart might play well with GOP voters who find Trump unsavory. But are those new voters for Portman? Probably not.
And Portman's destiny is still tied– however tightly or tenuously– to Trump's. If Republicans frustrated with Trump stay home, that's bad news for Portman.
In South Florida, Trump's last remaining loyalist, Mario Diaz-Balart, is being tormented by the same forces. Progressive Democrat Alina Valdes, as well as independents and mainstream Republicans, are calling on him to drop his support for Trump while Trump supporters are threatening to not vote for him if he does. Yesterday the Miami Herald's Patricia Mazzei reported that Diaz-Balart is so tied up in knots that he can't even give a straight answer about whether he backs Trump or not. After Diaz-Balart carefully distanced himself from Trump's pussy-grabbing comments Saturday, he was asked if he's dropping his support for Trump. He's not capable of giving a straight-forward answer. How do you say “weasel” in Spanish? Is it “comadreja?”
His spokeswoman, Katrina Valdés, responded to the Miami Herald by saying Diaz-Balart never said he'd vote for Trump in the first place. She pointed to a statement from the congressman in May declaring his intention to “vote for the Republican nominee.”
That would be Trump, of course.
And yet, Valdés insisted, Diaz-Balart “has not endorsed a candidate in the general election.”
Diaz-Balart certainly hasn't used the word endorsement, and he's repeatedly said he won't vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But does he still intend to vote for him?
“His statement has not changed,” Valdés said late Saturday. “His vote is conditioned on the clarification of a number of important issues that he has repeatedly said need to addressed by the nominee. As of tonight at 8:15 PM, several of those issues have not been clarified. That is where he still stands.”
Diaz-Balart hasn't said what he'll do if he doesn't get his requested “clarification” from Trump. The congressman praised Trump for adopting a hard line on Cuba policy last month in Miami. Diaz-Balart then said he needed more evidence before he could condemn a report that Trump's casino company broke the Cuban trade embargo in 1998.
Alina Valdes, who has been endorsed by Blue America– you can contribute to her grassroots campaign here– pointed out that “Diaz-Balart is the only South Florida Cuban-American who still supports the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, for president. Despite all the horrible things Teflon Don has said about Latinos, women, African-Americans, Muslims, and anything not white and male, he has maintained his loyalty to party over country.”
Jon Ralston has a smart take on this today. Writing for the Reno Gazette Journal He looked at Joe Heck's and Cresent Hardy's recent jettisoning of now toxic Trump. He also brought up Brian Sandoval and Dean Heller on charges of hypocrisy.
They came to bury Trump, and they expect praise.
They are all honorable men, these elected officials in the Nevada GOP, who bravely decided after all of this time that Donald Trump is unfit for office. And like their counterparts across the country, they are trying to kill Trump to avoid their own funerals.
The day after the tape emerged showing Trump sounding like a sexual predator and just a few hours after he apologized in a video in which he was held hostage by a teleprompter, Reps. Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy disavowed him Saturday at a Southern Nevada rally, ironically standing near the man who lost the last presidential race, Mitt Romney. They joined a countrywide chorus of Louis Renaults, shocked, shocked to discover Trump is a sociopath.
…Just look at the words they all used and see the blatant hypocrisy unmasked, the foundation of their arguments crumble. They even talked about Trump’s pattern of behavior, an admission of their guilt; they all should be convicted of failed leadership followed by rank opportunism.
It wasn’t repulsive enough to the governor of Mexican heritage when Trump announced in June 2015 and talked about Mexican rapists and murderers and later when he smeared a judge of Mexican descent?
It wasn’t lacking ethical and moral decency for the congressman cum brigadier general when Trump derided John McCain’s service, saying he likes his heroes not to be captured, or when he claimed to have raised money for veterans that he did not?
It didn’t degrade women enough for the rookie congressman when Trump alluded to Megyn Kelly’s menstruation or called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” or criticized a former Miss Universe for gaining weight?
It would fill up too much internet bandwidth to list all of the Trumpian depredations that should have led these men to disavow the GOP nominee long ago. These were disqualifying acts then just as the videotaped comments are now.
They can say this is much worse because Trump essentially says he committed sexual assault, but is that the standard these elected officials use? I will support him despite his misogyny, nativism and racism, but this is a bridge too far? This is what they considered praiseworthy?
The irony here, of course, is while this is purely political and temporal– exactly two weeks before early voting begins– this is a no-win situation for them. But by lying down with Trump for so long, they have made their own bed.
And that is the problem every single Republican office holder has to grapple with now. They are so lucky the DCCC is the most incompetent organization that ever existed. One more example: the Democratic candidate for Congress in northern Nevada, Chip Evans, released the following statement on incumbent Mark Amodei's decision to remain Trump's Nevada campaign chairman.
“Governor Sandoval had it right when he renounced his support for Donald Trump– ‘this video exposed not just words, but now an established pattern which I find repulsive and unacceptable for a candidate for President of the United States.’ I agree. Congressman Amodei’s choice to remain as Trump’s Nevada Campaign Chairman does not show the same principled leadership. It’s another example of Amodei’s poor judgment and consistent pattern of putting his party and his own interests before the people he was elected to represent. Remember, Trump’s already had his ‘30 days’ and then some to audition for the job. If Amodei is ‘genuinely concerned about the future of our country’ and looking for someone ‘who will set the tone in foreign policy, our economy… and gender,’ how can Amodei continue to embrace a candidate that has insulted our military by calling them ‘a disaster,’ wants to put nukes in Japan and South Korea, threatens to ‘shoot out of the water’ Iranian ships that make rude gestures to our navy, and proposes a tax plan that will hammer the middle class and cause a loss of 3.5 million jobs while adding $10 trillion to the deficit? It is time for a change. I’m confident northern Nevada’s hard-working families will see Amodei’s poor judgment and blind partisanship for what it is and bring him home in November.”
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis