GOP Establishment Is Worried Trumpf Or Cruz Will Wreck Their Little Racket, Not So Concerned About America
Ted Cruz has a scaremongery anti-immigration TV ad (above) to compete with Herr Trumpf's scaremongery anti-immigration TV ad. The competition for the right-wing populist vote is on. Fiorina, now one of the margin-of-error candidates hoping to get a job in someone's cabinet-- though not Herr Trumpf's, apparently-- was asked on Fox and Friends about the new Esquire cover story, Hater-in-Chief. "[T]here is no doubt: Donald Trump is an extremely divisive candidate. That’s why he cannot win. That is why he cannot be our nominee. But honestly, Donald Trump reminds me of the Kim Kardashian of politics... famous for being famous, and the media plays along." I wonder why no one compares Trumpf with Toronto's disastrous ex-mayor, Archie Bunker-like, right-wing populist Rob Ford. Too obvious? As far as "famous for being famous," I don't mean to be cruel, but what is Carly famous for again?
Mitt Romney, whose son Josh is about to run for governor of Utah, is starting to worry that Herr is tarnishing the Republican Party brand. Really? The first poll of 2016, less than a month before the Iowa caucuses shows Herr still the most popular candidate among Republican voters. The nationwide NBC poll released yesterday has Herr at 35% and the only two also in double digits-- Cruz (18%) and Rubio (13%)-- trailing him even if their numbers were combined! As Alex Isenstadt explained for Politico readers, the kind of shivers this sends down the spines of establishment Republicans like Romney are not the good kind. Romney must have been particularly irked to hear Trumpf, in Lowell, Massachusetts, castigating Paul Ryan-- the one GOP bosses are whispering about giving the nomination to in the brokered convention scenario-- as a sell-out to the base.
"The level of alarm" [panic and terror], Isenstadt assures us "is reaching new heights." Back inside the Beltway, "Republicans are on the hunt for a political entity that can be used to stop Trump." These, unfortunately, are mean with little imagination and no ability to think outside their comfy little boxes. "In recent weeks, Alex Castellanos, a veteran TV ad man who was a top adviser to George W. Bush and Romney, has been meeting with top GOP operatives and donors to gauge interest in launching an anti-Trump vehicle that would pummel the Manhattan businessman on the television airwaves. Those who’ve met with Castellanos say he’s offered detailed presentations on how such an offensive would play out. Castellanos has said that an anti-Trump ad campaign, which would be designed to cast him as a flawed strongman, would cost well into the millions. It was unclear, the sources said, whether Castellanos, who did not respond to a request for comment, would ultimately go through with the effort." The effort, if he could find some GOP suckers to fund it, would certainly make Castellanos a lot richer.
One growing worry about Trump or Cruz, top party officials, donors, and operatives across the country say, is that nominating either man would imperil lawmakers in down-ballot races, especially those residing in moderate states and districts.Luckily for Garrett and Mica (and other Republican incumbents in similar situations), Steve Israel has made sure that the DCCC has truly horrible candidates as alternatives-- Josh Gottheimer and Bill Phillips in New Jersey and Florida for example-- who, even if a Democratic tidal wave swept them into office, are so conservative so oriented away from working families' concerns that Democrats would refuse to vote for them in 2018... the story of Steve Israel's tragic time at the DCCC. In fact that dynamic is the tragic story of the DCCC under not just Israel but under Rahm Emanuel and Chris Van Hollen as well. When will the cycle be broken? Not while Nancy Pelosi or Steny Hoyer is running the show for congressional Democrats.
“At some point, we have to deal with the fact that there are at least two candidates who could utterly destroy the Republican bench for a generation if they became the nominee,” said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We’d be hard-pressed to elect a Republican dogcatcher north of the Mason-Dixon or west of the Mississippi.”
“Trump and Cruz are worrisome to most Republican candidates for governor, senator and Congress,” said Curt Anderson, a longtime GOP strategist and former Republican National Committee political director. “Some will say they are not worried, but they are.”
Romney has been calling around to former advisers to sound them out about the race, and to kvetch about Trump’s surprising durability. But in the immediate term, at least, he has expressed unwillingness to lend his hand to a stop-Trump effort-- or to endorse a candidate more palatable to a GOP establishment paralyzed by his rise and worried that nominating him or Cruz would scupper an opportunity to control both the White House and Congress in 2017.
The concern is particularly acute in the Senate, where Republicans are fighting to preserve a relatively slim four-seat majority, defending more than half a dozen seats in hard-to-win swing states. Among them: Ohio, a presidential battleground state where Republican Sen. Rob Portman faces a perilous path to reelection.
When Trump traveled to the state in November, he met with Matt Borges, Ohio’s Republican Party chairman-- who warned the front-runner that “divisive rhetoric won’t help us carry Ohio.”
“It’s time for people who have never won squat here to listen to the people who have been doing it for decades,” Borges said in an interview. “I’m just looking out for how we win in November.”
In Wisconsin, some party officials fret that a Trump or Cruz nomination could sink Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who faces a tough race against his predecessor, Russ Feingold.
“Certainly, it would be bad for Ron Johnson if Trump is the nominee,” said Wisconsin Rep. Reid Ribble who, like Johnson, was swept into Congress in the Republican wave of 2010. “I think Trump is probably really bad down-ballot.” [It doesn't matter who the GOP has at the top of the ticket in Wisconsin. People there are determined to reelect Feingold and erase Johnson from their memories forever.]
Some top party strategists have spent months considering how the outcome of the primary will impact congressional races. Since last spring, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has been poring over research and polling data in hopes of better understanding how each of the Republican candidates running for president would affect GOP hopefuls running for Senate. The committee has held internal meetings to discuss the pros and cons of each presidential contender and how they would affect each key Senate race.
The House, where Republicans have a historic 30-seat majority, is more secure for the party. But there, too, the GOP has reason to worry: The party must defend nearly three dozen endangered seats-- many of them in liberal-to-moderate states like California, New York and Florida.
Should Trump or Cruz win the nomination, party operatives say, some longtime officeholders in more conservative districts such as New Jersey Rep. Scott Garrett or Florida Rep. John Mica, who typically skate to general election wins, could find themselves in tougher-than-usual contests.