The rift between Republicans and Donald Trump over his national emergency declaration has exposed fractures between the president and his party — and it may be getting wider, one Washington Post columnist predicted.
“If rifts are developing in that relationship, it could lead to a spiral in which members of Congress see it in their interests to separate themselves from the president, and in response he lashes out at them, which only encourages them to distance themselves from him even more,” Plum Line columnist Paul Waldman wrote Thursday.
Waldman noted that recent reporting revealed that Trump was “irritated” when Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ben Sasse (R-NE) came to the White House to try to reach a deal with the president that would alleviate the concerns of some Republicans who may vote to rebuke the declaration.
“While there’s probably a part of the president that likes the idea of standing alone against all the weak-kneed forces of Washington unwilling to protect America from an invasion of murdering rapist drug dealers,” the columnist wrote, “there’s surely another part of him that’s enraged by the idea that any Republicans would defy him.”
As 2020 approaches, Waldman noted, Republicans running for reelection themselves are going to have to ask themselves an important question: “How closely do I want to tie myself to Trump if he might be going down?”
In red states, their path forward is clear — but for people like Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Martha McSally (R-AZ), it’s not so simple, the columnist mused.
“The worse the president is doing in polls, the more incentive they’ll have to display their independence to home-state voters by disagreeing with him,” Waldman wrote. “And the more they do, the angrier Trump will get and the more likely he’ll be to start campaigning not just against Democrats but against Congress in general, including members of his own party.”
“It’s not hard to imagine Trump, who is absurdly sensitive to personal slights, doing a rally in a place like North Carolina and pouring derision on Sen. Tillis for some recent vote, then telling the crowd that it doesn’t matter who else they vote for as long as they return him to the Oval Office,” he added.