The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Republican National Committee is redirecting resources earmarked for the Trump campaign to down-ballot races. The move comes as the fallout from Trump’s lewd remarks about women from 2005 continues to roil the GOP.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus on Saturday told party officials to redirect funds away from nominee Donald Trump to down-ballot candidates, according to an official informed of the decision. In practical terms, the party will be working to mobilize voters who support GOP House and Senate candidates regardless of their position on the presidential race.
That means the RNC will push Floridians who support both Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to vote. Before today, the RNC wouldn’t have sought to turn out Clinton voters, leaving split-ticket voters for Senate campaigns to target.
The release on Friday of a 2005 video of Mr. Trump making lewd and degrading comments about women has led to recriminations from all corners of the GOP. Mr. Trump’s comments were denounced by the party chairman, the speaker of the House, a squadron of former GOP presidential candidates and a flood of members of Congress.
“Our party is in its deepest crisis since Watergate in 1974,” said Ron Nehring, former chairman of the California Republican Party, referring to the mid-term election when the resignation of then-President Richard M. Nixon led to a Democratic landslide. “It’s compounded by the fact that it doesn’t matter whether Donald Trump were to bow out. It’s too late to change the candidate on the ballot.”
The immediate consequence of the RNC’s decision on allocating resources is a halt to the party’s mail program so it can be redirected toward a new universe of voters, the official said. News of the mail program stopping was first reported by Politico. Mr. Priebus and top party strategist Sean Spicer didn’t respond to requests for comment.
This is a significant loss for Trump, whose campaign has little infrastructure of its own. They are dependent on the RNC for GOTV efforts at the state and county level. Now, those resources will not necessarily be dedicated to getting Trump supporters to the polls.
Trump should raise a stink about this simply because it was his fundraising efforts that brought in the cash in the first place. The money was raised through a joint agreement with the Trump campaign to share proceeds from specific events. So it’s the RNC’s cut from those fundraisers and they can legally do anything they want with the money.
It is unlikely that the RNC will publicly break with Trump. But quietly directing resources to dow-ballot candidates is an unmistakable sign that, at least at this point, the RNC has given up on Trump and is trying desperately to limit the damage.