Republicans in Washington are exhausted and in despair after President Donald Trump’s gross mishandling of the administration’s response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, calling it a “f*cking disaster” and worrying that Trump has done permanent damage to the party.
The Hill reported Saturday that Republicans of all stripes are concerned that Trump’s combative press conference and unwillingness to denounce neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan has undone years of outreach by the GOP to nonwhite voters.
A “veteran Republican strategist” told the Hill on condition of anonymity, “I don’t know where we go from here” after Trump alienated millions of Americans by saying there were “many fine people on both sides” of the violence that killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer and left at least 19 others injured.
While some on the right are holding out hope that the ouster of White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon will help the president shore up some of the self-inflicted damage he’s done to his presidency, many Republicans don’t think it will make any difference.
“I don’t think it does,” said former RNC communications director Doug Heye. “Nobody makes their decision about who to support based on the staff in the White House.”
A parade of politicians and CEOs have publicly scorned Pres. Trump in recent days, and longtime Republican operatives are watching their careful work cultivating black and Hispanic voters go up in smoke.
“It’s terribly frustrating,” said Heye. “In Charlottesville, we are talking about neo-Nazis chanting truly vile things. To see the president come out the way he did — it’s impossible for me to try to convince an African-American, or Hispanic, or Jewish voter why they should vote Republican.”
He concluded, “What they’re hearing is: We don’t like you.”