Which Republicans In Congress Will Be The First To Endorse Trump?
Every endorsement for Trump is a loss for Tailgunner Ted Cruz
Thursday night we looked at how racist Republicans in Congress could help legitimize Trump by echoing his Know-Nothing immigration platform, generally ugly positions they have been espousing for years anyway. We focused on one of the worst of the worst: Santa Clarita/Antelope Valley/Simi Valley reactionary Steve Knight. But yesterday Roll Call went straight for the Old Confederacy, at least for the most part, when looking for the 5 most likely Republican congressionals to endorse Trump's candidacy.
First and foremost, of course, was KKK Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III of Alabama, who actually wrote much of Trump's racist immigration plank. Many people consider him already having endorsed Trump by donning a Trumpian baseball cap and getting up on the stage with him in Mobile last week. "At the rally," wrote Zaid Jilani, "Sessions became the first member of Congress to endorse Trump."
Matt Fuller at Roll Call doesn't see that as an endorsement, at least not an explicit one. But he thinks one may be coming.
To date, not one member of Congress has formally endorsed the GOP front-runner. Perhaps that’s part of Trump’s charm for some voters. He’s a Washington outsider-- as much as a New York billionaire can be, at least-- and voters have taken to his monkey-wrench style of politics.Fuller has two pretty overt Alabamian racists as likely to lead the way: Sessions, of course, and willfully ignorant far right extremist Mo Brooks.
Then there’s Congress. Even if members like to rail against the institution, this is the political system that brought them to power. As fiery as some conservatives are, there may be some recognition that some of the things Trump says could be, you know, like, damaging to the Republican brand.
Of course, if Trump keeps polling this well, Republicans will start to fall in line behind the billionaire. At least some of them will, anyway. (It’s hard to imagine every Republican actually endorsing Trump if he becomes the nominee. It’s entirely possible fewer congressional Republicans would endorse their party’s nominee than ever before if that GOP-contender turns out to be Trump.
But if Trump’s support really is steadfast-- if Frank Luntz’s legs cease to quiver-- members will endorse him.
Brooks hasn’t officially thrown his support behind anyone, but he’s one of the staunchest opponents of illegal immigration in Congress-- and his own populist, anti-GOP-establishment streak could lead him to support Trump. It’s no secret Brooks is close with Cruz, but he told an Alabama crowd at the end of July there were some people running “who have never held public office before that intrigue me-- and I like what they’re saying.”Now that Jeb! has rolled out ex-Majority Leader/ex-Congressman Eric Cantor as a surrogate, it seems even more likely that anti-immigrant fanatic Dave Brat may go for Trump. (Trump mentioned him admiringly the other day, but it went unmentioned in the media because Trump mangled his name.) He told Roll Call that before he decides who to endorse he's "waiting for the first one to reference 127 trillion in unfunded liabilities and that all federal revenue will go toward only the four entitlement programs and interest payments by 2027. So no endorsements yet, but the first one that weighs in on that topic will grab my attention very quickly."
Asked about supporting Trump, Brooks told CQ Roll Call Thursday that he wouldn’t consider endorsing anyone until November at the earliest.
“Do think Cruz would make an excellent, winning nominee and president,” he said via text, adding that he has similar thoughts about three or four other candidates.
While it’s clear Brooks has a soft spot for Cruz, November could be a different world in the presidential debate. Trump could have fallen off by then-- or he could be an even more dominant candidate. Either way, Brooks doesn’t sound closed off to Trump, even if he isn’t his first choice.
It seems as if Brooks is maintaining some level of skepticism at this point, but he’s not ruling out Trump. Another Republican in that category?
...[Steve] King, who could be a key endorsement in his state’s first-in-the-nation caucus, certainly seemed to like what he saw from Trump’s immigration plan. While many have figured King would endorse Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s immigration positions and popularity could give the Iowa congressman something to think about. In fact, there are a number of anti-immigration Republicans who could be attracted to Trump’s immigration plan (though many of those congressional Republicans have already endorsed candidates).
New to the list of possible early Trumpettes is Florida extremist Ted Yoho, a whacked-out teabagger who represents a big empty chunk of KKK territory in northern Florida that includes whites-only suburbs of Jacksonville and Gainesville all the way up to a secessionist-minded stretch along the Georgia border. Although Obama beat Romney statewide, many of the counties where Obama had the weakest support are in Yoho's district-- like Dixie (26%), Gilchrist (24%) and Union (25%).
While Yoho may have a style that at times resembles Trump’s, the firebrand Republican who offered himself as an alternative to Speaker John A. Boehner earlier this year-- and recently signed on as cosponsor of a motion to vacate the chair-- seems to understand that presenting Trump as the GOP presidential candidate comes with some pitfalls. But he also understands that voters are frustrated.11 Floridian Republicans-- Bilirakis, Buchanan, Crenshaw, Curbelo, Diaz-Balart, Jolly, Miller, Mica, Ros-Lehtinen, Ross and Webster-- have endorsed former Florida Governor Jeb and one-- Tom Rooney-- has endorsed Rubio. I could see Curt Clawson, a Trumpian figure himself, and possibly Richard Nugent getting on board the Trump train at the same time Yoho does.
“I think it’s an indication to see Donald Trump leading in the polls of what the American people feel,” Yoho told CQ Roll Call just before the August recess. “They’re fed up. I mean, they are fed up to put Donald Trump at the top of the polls? That’s pretty scary.”
Yoho was talking about a fracture in the Republican Party, and he brought up Trump without prompting to explain that divide. And even though Yoho might think it’s “scary” that voters are supporting Trump in large numbers, he seems to understand the frustration.
And as Yoho points out, Trump’s candidacy-- which Republicans endorse him and, if he is the nominee, which Republicans refuse to support him-- might more clearly reveal some of the fault lines in the party.
Or maybe it won't even be some Confederate maniac who's the first to back Trump. Yesterday, the House's newest Republican, Daniel Donovan, who replaced Michael "Mikey Suits" Grimm, praised Trump, who he called a "personal friend," although he didn't make a formal endorsement yet.
Right now, I think he’s resonating with voters, it’s obviously in the polls, because he’s saying things to America that many Americans are frustrated with... They’re frustrated with government, and I suspect there’s a lot of people home when they watch him on TV, start nodding their heads up and down and don’t even realize it. With so many people in the race, I don’t think anybody’s gotten an absolutely, an opportunity to distinguish themselves and talk about their issues.Donovan is best known as the district attorney who refused to indict the white policeman who murdered Eric Garner, a black grandfather who was selling loose cigarettes.