Donald J. Trump, known for his hate-filled rhetoric and high self-regard, is apparently feeling a bit less confident these days about his chances of winning the presidency for the Republican Party.
With the latest numbers, such as an NBC/SurveyMonkey poll, showing Trump’s support riding between 9-14 points below that of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Trump discussed his inflammatory rhetoric with CNBC Thursday, saying, “At the end, it’s either going to work or I’m going to, you know, I’m going to have a very, very nice long vacation.”
Trump’s remarks came just as news broke that his campaign requested a meeting with Republican National Committee officials, most likely in an attempt to stave off an abandonment of Trump by the party, as numerous former RNC operatives and former elected officials are demanding in an open letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. The meeting is slated to take place Friday, August 12 in Orlando, where Trump delivered an address to evangelical pastors at the far-right American Renewal conference. While Karen Giorno, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, described the gathering to Politico as just a “typical” ordinary thing, anonymous sources described it as an “emergency meeting.”
But lest you think the letter-writers urging the RNC to dump Trump (at least in terms of party spending) are appealing to Priebus solely on matters of principle—say, Trump’s many anti-constitutional promises, such as his preference for trying American citizens in military tribunals, his promise to ban Muslims from entering the country or his pledge to torture captives in contravention of international law—the signatories make it clear that their concern is, first and foremost, politics. “Given the catastrophic impact that Donald Trump's losing presidential campaign will have on down-ballot Senate and House races,” they write, “we urge you to immediately suspend all discretionary RNC support for Trump and focus the entirety of the RNC's available resources on preserving the GOP's congressional majorities.”
It seems Trump’s suggestion that “Second Amendment people” may take matters into their own hands should Clinton be elected was a last straw for the letter’s signers, as it came as that controversy flooded the airwaves.
While a draft of the letter has been posted on Scribd (see below), a full list of signatories has yet to be reported. According to Politico’s Anna Palmer, who broke the news of the letter, known signers include:
…former Sen. Gordon Humphrey of New Hampshire and former Reps. Chris Shays of Connecticut, Tom Coleman of Missouri and Vin Weber of Minnesota are among the Republicans lending their name to the letter. Close to 20 of the co-signers are former RNC staffers, including Mindy Finn (former RNC chief digital strategist), Christine Iverson Gunderson (former RNC press secretary), Virginia Hume Onufer (former RNC deputy press secretary), Beth Miller (former RNC field communications division director), Heather Layman (former deputy press secretary), B. Jay Cooper (former RNC communications director under four chairmen) and Patrick Ruffini (former RNC ecampaign director).
The letter writers describe themselves as “former members of Congress and staffers at the RNC” who have served “in every Republican administration since President Reagan, on the last seven GOP presidential campaigns, in leadership and personal offices in both the House and Senate, as grassroots workers at the state and local level, and as delegates to the GOP conventions.”
Having built no ground operation of his own in order to turn out voters to the polls in November, Trump desperately needs the party’s help. Already, he has been abandoned by the Koch network groups, such as Americans for Prosperity, whose founder, Charles Koch, has said the network would focus its efforts on preserving the GOP’s current majority in Congress. (Nonetheless, the Kochs' get-out-the-vote efforts will benefit Trump to some degree, as those who arrive at the polls poised to vote for the Koch network’s favored candidates are likely to pull the lever for Trump.)
The letter offers a devastating critique of Trump's campaign and Trump himself, including this list of nine bullet points describing the candidate's behavior:
- Attacking Gold Star families of soldiers who died serving their country
- Urging a hostile foreign government to intervene in a U.S. election
- Suggesting that gun owners take action against his opponent if she is elected
- Repudiating our NATO treaty obligations to protect our allies
- Reportedly expressing interest in the preemptive use of nuclear weapons
- Exposing his total ignorance of basic foreign policy matters
- Stating his admiration for violent foreign autocrats
- Refusing to disclose any of his past taxes, including those not under audit, and
- Deliberately and repeatedly lying about scores of issues, large and small
Whatever the meeting’s outcome, in the conspiracy-obsessed minds of many Trump supporters, the letter from the Republican operatives and former elected officials will no doubt be seen as evidence of one of Trump’s favorite incitements: his assertion that “the system is rigged” against him.
Seeing as how those supporters have often been urged to violence by the candidate himself, a sensible person might be concerned for the future of American politics.
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