Headed into last night's debate, the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress were still backing Trump, despite the release of the “grab 'em by the pussy” tape and the promise of more– and even worse–revelations of that nature to come in the next few weeks. Last night he aimed right to his Hate Talk Radio base… probably didn't win over a single new person. PolitiFact will be very busy for the next few days since Trump lied his way through the entire debate. We'll see later today and tomorrow if he was able to staunch the flow of Republican elected officials from his banner yesterday.
Many of the most fervent Trump supporters were opponents of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. It passed in the House 286-138 and that entire 138 was made up of Republicans. (87 Republicans teamed up with all 199 Democrats to pass it.) Among the anti-women Republicans who voted NO on the Violence Against Women Act and who still back Trump, are fringe extremists Lamar Smith (TX), Steve King (IA), Mo Brooks (AL), Paul Gosar (AZ), Bill Posey (FL), Arkansas closet case Tom Cotton (now in the Senate and already running for the 2020 GOP presidential nomination), Tennessee's rapist doctor Scott DesJarlais, Hillary-hunter Trey Gowdy (SC), John Mica (FL), black-hating Robert Pittenger, ambitious would-be Ted Cruz replacement Mike McCaul (TX) and GOP whip (and KKK supporter) Steve Scalise (LA).
The Associated Press analysis of why some congressional Republicans had finally started distancing themselves from Trump and announcing they would not vote for him, noted that “during the Republican primary, GOP officials worried that disavowing Trump would alienate his supporters and hurt the party in congressional races. In the general election, Trump’s crass behavior also seemed easier for Republicans to tolerate when stacked up against Democrat Hillary Clinton, a candidate so reviled by many in the GOP that virtually nothing Trump did seemed worse than the prospect of her becoming president. But these new revelations come at a time when the White House race seems to be slipping away from Trump. He’s been unable to attract support beyond that offered by his core backers.”
“There were people who were just starting to feel like this ship was going down and now this gives people a good excuse to jump off,” said Katie Packer, a Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign and led an unsuccessful effort to prevent Trump from becoming the GOP nominee.
While some Republicans expressed astonishment and dismay over Trump’s 2005 comments, those who steadfastly refused to endorse him throughout the campaign suggested their party knew full well what they were getting with the brash real estate mogul and reality TV star.
“Nothing that has happened in the last 48 hours is surprising to me or many others,” said Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was critical of Trump when he ran against him in the primary and has remained so for months.
Privately, even Republicans who didn’t formally revoke their support for Trump conceded there was little he could do to right his campaign at this point. Early voting is already underway in some key states and the comments aired in the video will likely be unforgivable with independent women– a constituency Trump desperately needs to win if he has any hope of defeating Clinton.
The last hope now for many Republicans is that an unimaginable election year will still end with the GOP in control of the Senate. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, both locked in tight races, joined the parade of officials Saturday who said they simply couldn’t stand by Trump anymore.
For Ayotte, the move earned her no quarter from her Democratic opponent, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan.
“She has had one example after the next of Donald Trump’s despicable words and his despicable behavior as reasons that she should have disavowed him,” Hassan said. “It took her until now when the revelation of his comments from a decade ago were made to decide that politically she couldn’t stand with him anymore.”
Look for more of the same in races nationwide. Democrats made clear Saturday they would spend the next month trying to ensure they and other Republicans get no credit for walking away now.
And the polling that came out from both CBS and NBC just before the debate was brutal for Trump– though neither reflected his pussy grabbing problems. Taken together, the polls of likely voters in battleground states Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin block any glimmer of hope for a Trump victory. Even before the barrage of news about his pussy comments, she led him 45-42% in Florida, 49-37% in Pennsylvania, 46-42% in Ohio, and 43-39% in Wisconsin.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson carried 30 states to Republican Charles Hughes' 18 but the raw vote was close– 9,126,868 (49.2%) to 8,548,728 (46.1%) and the electoral vote was as well– 277 for Wilson and 254 for Hughes. Ohio's 24 electoral votes were absolutely crucial. Had Wilson lost Ohio Hughes would have been president. But Wilson did win Ohio, 604,161 (51.86%) to 514,753 (44.18%). Part of that victory can be attributed to Wilson's endorsement by the Columbus Dispatch. It was the last time that paper endorsed a Democrat– until yesterday. “For us,” they wrote, “the choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is not pleasant, but it isn’t difficult. Republican candidate Donald Trump is unfit to be president of the United States. Democrat Hillary Clinton, despite her flaws, is well-equipped for the job… We are disappointed that so many Republican leaders have accommodated a narcissistic, morally bankrupt candidate who is so clearly out of step with those values.”
[Trump] has proved himself a liar of epic proportion. He is a bigot, a braggart and an admirer of foreign thugs such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He is reckless and thin-skinned. He has demeaned Mexicans, demonized Muslims, insulted women and mocked the disabled.
His economic policies, to the extent that they can be analyzed, would at least double the national debt. His call for punishing tariffs on foreign goods would trigger retaliation and ignite a trade war with disastrous results for employment and the standard of living in the United States. The stakes are too high to sit out this election and risk letting Trump misuse the awesome power of the presidency. The Dispatch urges voters to elect Hillary Clinton.
They didn't wait to watch last night's debate– and they didn't decide to wait for the next one… if there is a next one.
UPDATE: SO Who Won Last Night?
The first post-debate scientific polls were done by YouGov and CNN. YouGov:
• Clinton- 47%
• Trump- 42%
• Clinton- 57%
• Trump- 34%
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis