Election 2016

Report: McConnell Okays GOP Attacks on Trump in the General Election

Buried in this lengthy New York Times report on the Republican party’s struggle to confront Donald Trump is an anecdote from a recent GOP luncheon where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly told his colleagues they can run against Donald Trump in the general election if they need to.

McConnell apparently believes his status as the majority leader is more important than winning the White House.

While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches.

He has reminded colleagues of his own 1996 re-election campaign, when he won comfortably amid President Bill Clinton’s easy re-election. Of Mr. Trump, Mr. McConnell has said, “We’ll drop him like a hot rock,” according to his colleagues.

Granted I’m a relatively young person, but I cannot recall a time when Republican congressmen ran ads against their own presidential nominee but that very well may happen.

There’s still a possibility Donald Trump will not be the Republican nominee but according to FiveThirtyEight, Trump is favored to win all but one state tomorrow on Super Tuesday. Ted Cruz is heavily favored to win Texas.

I still consider the possibility of a Cruz nomination to be more likely than a Rubio nomination. Rubio has not won a single state yet and he may not win a single state tomorrow. Team Rubio appears to be placing all of their eggs in the Florida basket, but Trump leads in every poll of Florida that I’ve seen.

The next few weeks will tell the tale.

  • Aynwrong

    I have to say I’m surprised to see that the establishment GOP (if it can be called that) is unwilling to back Trump. I assumed they would bite the bullet and back Trump for the sake of keeping the base happy.

    • muselet

      I think they want plausible deniability if Donald Trump goes down in flames.

      –alopecia

      • JMAshby

        They’re already preparing to say conservatism hasn’t failed because Trump wasn’t conservative. Watch for it.

      • Aynwrong

        In other words “He wasn’t conservative enough.”

        *SIGH*

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    This is going to be an interesting ride.

    • Aynwrong

      That’s putting it mildly.

    • muselet

      “This is a dark ride.”

      –alopecia

  • Razor

    By March 16, they’ll all be hailing Trump as the second coming of Reagan.

    • I agree. And the latest racist overtones of Trumps campaign won’t hurt his chances either. For many on the right his racism is a feature, not a bug.

  • muselet

    The GOP and—especially—most Righty organizations don’t trust Donald Trump as far as they could spit a rat, so they’ll happily run against him if they need to, concentrate on keeping control of the Senate, take a November loss to Hillary Clinton, and spend the next four years continuing to obstruct everything of consequence.

    A week or two ago, I saw a piece somewhere (I could have sworn it was Washington Monthly, but that site’s search function blows, so I can’t be sure) that quoted one of the usual suspects—a bigwig from FreedomWorks or Heritage Foundation or some other policy chop shop—as saying that getting a solid majority on the Supreme Court is more important than electing a mere President. Mitch McConnell got the memo.

    It’s annoying, but it’s predictable.

    –alopecia