The GOP’s boxed in on Trump

The Week (US) - - 12 News - Josh Kraushaar


Repub­li­can can­di­dates for Congress face a real dilemma, said Josh Kraushaar. With Pres­i­dent Trump’s ap­proval rat­ing ris­ing to close to 90 per­cent among Repub­li­cans, con­tenders in House and Se­nate races across the coun­try see “no ben­e­fit to cre­at­ing any space be­tween their cam­paigns and the White House.” In­deed, most feel a need “to pledge unyield­ing sup­port to the pres­i­dent.” But as Trump begins his sec­ond year in of­fice, he’s gone rogue, re­jected main­stream Repub­li­can po­si­tions on trade and im­mi­gra­tion, and fully em­braced his po­lar­iz­ing na­tion­al­is­tic agenda. That puts many Repub­li­can can­di­dates in a box. If a trade war back­fires on Mid­west­ern farm­ers, “will they main­tain their sup­port for the GOP if their bot­tom line takes a hit?” If can­di­dates echo Trump’s strong anti-im­mi­grant rhetoric, do they alien­ate mod­er­ates and in­de­pen­dents and en­er­gize Democrats? “It’s a Catch-22.” To sat­isfy their base, Repub­li­cans feel ob­li­gated to flaunt their red MAGA hats. But vo­cally back­ing Trump and his harsh rhetoric is very likely to alien­ate cru­cial swing vot­ers in Novem­ber. This is why Repub­li­can lead­ers like Sen. Mitch McCon­nell are openly gloomy and pre­dict­ing a Demo­cratic wave. By “march­ing to the beat of Trump’s drum,” Repub­li­can can­di­dates are “head­ing closer to the po­lit­i­cal cliff.”

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