The GOP Exodus Begins

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After news of Donald Trump’s latest controversy broke yesterday, I pointed out that while the denunciations of Trump from Republicans were the most pointed we have heard throughout this campaign, it didn’t mean much since nobody at the time was going on record and pulling their support from him.

Shortly after I wrote about it last night, Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz was the first to do so, and today, the list of Republican figures bailing on Trump is growing by the hour. As of right now, 31 Republicans are calling on Donald Trump to drop out of the race, and allow Mike Pence to take his place at the top of the ticket.

The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake has the current list, which you can see below.

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In addition to the 31 telling him to drop out, a few more are withdrawing their support, but not going so far as to say he should step aside. This list includes:

  1. Utah Gov. Gart Herbert
  2. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz
  3. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who is locked in a tight reelection battle with Gov. Maggie Hassan
  4. Nevada Rep. Cresent Hardy, who faces a challenging reelection campaign in the state’s fourth district
  5. Florida Rep. Tom Rooney
  6. Arizona Sen. John McCain, who is also up for reelection this year

Expect both lists to grow in the coming days. And like I said yesterday, if Trump bombs in tomorrow nights debate, it is reasonable to expect other Republicans racing to get in front of a TV camera to announce they are bailing on him too.

Cutting bait with their nominee may seem like the obvious play for many Republicans here, but it does not come without some major problems, aside from the fact Mr. Trump is refusing to withdraw.

For example, Joe Heck, current representative of Nevada’s third district, and candidate to replace Harry Reid in the Senate, was booed by his supporters when he said Trump should drop out of the race. As was Paul Ryan in Wisconsin today after he retracted his invitation to Mr. Trump for a joint campaign appearance in his district. Though it should be noted, Ryan has not yet withdrawn his endorsement.

Way back in the summer, Trump said he could walk down 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any support. A lot of people took umbrage at the remark, but it was right on the money. Nothing he does will cause his die hards to abandon him and I suspect they will make sure their disapproval is directed loud and clear to any candidate who decides to do so.

This is the predicament many Republicans up for reelection have faced all year long. They didn’t want to outright reject their nominee since they would need his supporters votes to win their own races. At the same time, they didn’t want to bear hug him for fear of turning off the college educated, suburban, and women voters who are appalled by the things he has said. Luckily for them, this predicament is only getting worse.

Kelly Ayotte may have withdrawn her support today, but just last week she suggested Mr. Trump was a role model for children in a debate against her opponent, Gov. Maggie Hassan. Something tells me Hassan’s campaign is going to be running that clip a lot from now until November 8.

Marco Rubio and John McCain could also fall victim to this. They never said Trump was a role model, but both men are on record saying they will support him for president. Florida and Arizona were Senate seats Democrats were hoping to pick up, but they have been slipping away over the last few weeks. If this latest controversy causes Trump’s support to crater even further, will their endorsement of him put these seats back in play? Their challengers will sure hell try to make sure it happens.

This also begs the question, why now? Let’s face it, it’s not like people don’t know who Donald Trump is by now.

Let’s go through the list again, shall we? Over the last year-and-a-half, Donald Trump:

  1. Made crude comments about Carly Fiorina’s appearance;
  2. Suggested Fox News’ Megyn Kelly asked him tough questions because she was on her period;
  3. Questioned the qualifications of a respected judge because of his Mexican heritage;
  4. Said John McCain was only a war hero because he was captured, and that he liked people who weren’t captured;
  5. Said thousands of Muslims were cheering in the streets of New Jersey on 9/11 despite zero evidence this occurred;
  6. Proposed a ban on Muslims from entering the country all together;
  7. Received the endorsement of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke and refused to disavow it;
  8. Re-tweeted White Nationalist groups and individuals on a number of occasions;
  9. Was exposed for not having made all of the charitable donations to veterans groups, or any group for that matter, he said he did;
  10. Re-tweeted comments and memes calling Heidi Cruz (Ted Cruz’s wife) ugly;
  11. Suggested Ted Cruz’s father was complicit in the Kennedy Assassination;
  12. Spent a week attacking Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the parents of Humayun Khan, a US solider killed while serving in Iraq in 2004, after their moving speech at the Democratic National Convention denouncing his proposed Muslim ban;
  13. Fat shamed a former Ms. Universe contestant for an entire week after his debate with Hillary Clinton;
  14. Was outed for not putting any of his own money into his charity since 2008, and using other people’s money to make donations on his behalf, buy portraits of himself, and settle legal issues concerning his businesses;
  15. Was exposed for not paying any income taxes for years thanks to the leaking of some of his tax documents to the New York Times;
  16. Told journalists he thought the Central Park 5 were guilty of raping a jogger in 1989 despite the fact each one of them has been exonerated.

So why, after all of this, are Republicans only now starting to bail en masse?

To put this another way, if the conversation of Trump bragging about, for all intents and purposes, sexually assaulting women, had come out in early August, would they withdraw their support or suggest he step aside and let Mike Pence run for president?

If you’ll remember, it was in early August when Trump was in the middle of his feud with the parents of a dead soldier; which still makes my skin crawl. And yet very few of the Republicans listed above bailed on him then. So why the sudden change?

It couldn’t possibly be because, in this instance, the election is only a month away and there is precious little time for the voters to forget about this controversy, could it?

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