News & Politics

Appalling: GOP Strategists Warn Candidates Not to Defend Trump on Coronavirus

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

One sure-fire way that Republicans will get slaughtered in November is if they abandon their party leader — especially in the midst of a crisis.

Donald Trump is what the Republicans have to work with. There’s no one else. He’s the only president we have and abandoning him will change no votes on the Democratic side and discourage Republican voters from even showing up.

And yet, the geniuses at the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee think it would be a swell idea if Republicans didn’t defend Trump on anything except his travel ban to China. The GOP Senate majority is hanging by a thread at this point and those numbskulls are giving advice that will ensure a Democratic takeover in November.


Earlier this month, the Senate Republican campaign arm circulated a memo with shocking advice to GOP candidates on responding to coronavirus: “Don’t defend Trump, other than the China Travel Ban — attack China.”

The Trump campaign was furious.

Any Republican should be. The NRSC gets millions from loyal Trump supporters in the Republican Party every month. Now they want to throw the president under the bus because the media and Democrats are on the warpath over Trump’s response to the pandemic?

The White House quickly moved to squash the NRSC and their silly pretensions at campaign strategy.

On Monday — just days after POLITICO first reported the existence of the memo — Trump political adviser Justin Clark told NRSC executive director Kevin McLaughlin that any Republican candidate who followed the memo’s advice shouldn’t expect the active support of the reelection campaign and risked losing the support of Republican voters.

McLaughlin responded by saying he agreed with the Trump campaign’s position and, according to two people familiar with the conversation, clarified that the committee wasn’t advising candidates to not defend Trump over his response.

McLaughlin is a liar and his excuses ring hollow.

During the conversation, McLaughlin called the line in the memo inartful in its wording and argued that the overall thrust of the document was about pushing candidates to go on offense over China — something that Trump has done frequently in recent days — and not to evade defending the president.

The memo clearly inferred to ignore questions about Trump’s response and “pivot” to blaming China. Failing to defend Trump’s response to the crisis is bad politics, pure and simple. And Republican voters won’t let a candidate get away with it.

Clark said in a statement that Republican candidates “who want to win will be running with the president.”

“Candidates will listen to the bad advice in this memo at their own peril,” he added. “President Trump enjoys unprecedented support among Republican voters and everyone on the ballot in November will want to tap into that enthusiasm. The president’s campaign, the RNC, and the NRSC are firmly on the same page here.”

No party in history has ever triumphed when abandoning the standard-bearer. GOP candidates don’t have a choice. Since they aren’t going to replace Trump, they are going to have to embrace him. No half measures will do. They must be all in. Or they will all be out.