Anal­y­sis: Why is the GOP dump­ing Trump?

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Julie Pace

SYRA­CUSE >> Why now? And why this? For the le­gion of Repub­li­cans who aban­doned Don­ald Trump, re­coil­ing in hor­ror from com­ments their party’s White House nom­i­nee made about us­ing his fame to prey on women, there is no es­cap­ing those ques­tions.

For months, they stom­ached his in­cen­di­ary re­marks about Mex­i­cans, Mus­lims, pris­on­ers of war, a Gold Star mil­i­tary fam­ily and a His­panic judge, along with of­fen­sive state­ments about women too nu­mer­ous to count.

Demo­cratic crit­ics ar­gue that their si­lence — or the prom­ise to vote for Trump, but not en­dorse him — amounted to tacit ap­proval of misog­yny and racism.

There were no good an­swers, and few Repub­li­cans at­tempted to of­fer any.

Some, in­clud­ing House Speaker Paul Ryan and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, didn’t say any­thing at all about the top of the party’s ticket. A steady stream of oth­ers re­voked their en­dorse­ments or called for Trump to drop out of the race, con­demn­ing the New York bil­lion­aire in emailed state­ments and care­fully crafted tweets.

Those flee­ing from Trump may ul­ti­mately say it was the shock of hear­ing and see­ing the busi­ness­man’s crude­ness on video that prompted them to fi­nally walk away.

On Fri­day, The Wash­ing­ton Post and NBC News both re­leased a 2005 record­ing of Trump de­scrib­ing at­tempts to have sex with a mar­ried woman. His words were caught on a live mi­cro­phone while talk­ing with Billy Bush, then a host of “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood.”

Some may draw a dis­tinc­tion be­tween Trump’s out­ra­geous ear­lier com­ments about women, mi­nori­ties and oth­ers by not­ing that this time, the busi­ness­man wasn’t just be­ing of­fen­sive — he was de­scrib­ing ac­tions that could be con­sid­ered sex­ual as­sault.

In the video, Trump is heard say­ing that his fame al­lows him to “do any­thing” to women.

“Grab them by the p——. You can do any­thing,” he says.

But with a month un­til Elec­tion Day, and early vot­ing al­ready un­der­way in sev­eral states, the truest an­swer to why Repub­li­cans are drop­ping Trump now — and why they’re drop­ping him over this — is likely po­lit­i­cal.

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.

His per­for­mance in the first de­bate was undis­ci­plined and he fol­lowed it up by tan­gling with a beauty queen whom he shamed two decades ago for gain­ing weight.

“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.

EVAN VUCCI — AP FILE

A de­fi­ant Trump in­sisted Satur­day he would “never” aban­don his White House bid, re­ject­ing a grow­ing back­lash from Repub­li­can lead­ers na­tion­wide who dis­avowed the GOP’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee af­ter he was caught on tape brag­ging about preda­tory ad­vances on women.

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