As the stable of GOP candidates gently navigates the Trump 2016 quagmire, one candidate has adopted a creative solution: campaign as anti-Trump.
The commercial, from GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado, represents the first time a House Republican has used explicitly anti-Trump messaging in paid advertising. It comes as many in the Republican Party — concerned about Trump’s impact on down-ballot races — are grappling with whether to take further measures to repudiate their presidential nominee after a string of controversies including an attack on a Gold Star family and his refusal to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan in his primary.
“People ask me, ‘What do you think about Trump?’” he says into the camera. “Honestly, I don’t care for him much.”
Coffman goes on to say: “I’m a Marine – for me, country comes first. My duty is always to you. So if Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him. Plain and simple.”
The commercial is set to air on Friday. There are both Spanish and English versions of the ad.
The ad is uncommon for another reason. With an eye toward assuaging Latinos — many of whom have been alienated by Trump’s tough-on-immigration posture — Coffman will also release a version of the commercial which features him speaking Spanish. Latinos comprise around 20 percent of the district’s population.
Former National Republican Congressional Committee executive director Liesl Hickey recently circulated a memo titled “How to Survive in 2016” for GOP candidates who might be damaged by a Trump association.
Hickey co-produced the ad and is advising the Coffman campaign.
What to do? Should a candidate distance himself from the party’s presidential candidate or remain loyal to the party at all costs?