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Previously ‘spineless’ Republicans poised to turn on Trump now that his unpopular tariffs may cost them their seats

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According to a report from the Guardian’s Ross Barkan, Republicans already faced with running for office in 2020 with an unpopular president at the head of the GOP ticket are about to turn on Donald Trump if they sense they may lose their seats in Congress and control of the Oval Office because of his trade war with China and now Mexico.

Calling many GOP lawmakers “spineless” for continually failing to stand up to Trump, Barkan writes in his opinion piece that GOP members were furious after a recent briefing on the president’s still developing tariff plans.

“On Tuesday, Republican senators emerged enraged from a meeting with Trump, unwilling to stomach his threat to level tariffs as high as 25% on Mexican goods in retaliation for migrants crossing the border,” he wrote. “Even Senator Ted Cruz, the former Trump punching-bag (‘Lyin’ Ted’) who has since become a reliable Trump ally, railed against the proposed tariffs, calling them ‘new taxes’ on Texas farmers, manufacturers and small businesses. Otherwise spineless Republican senators are having this change of heart because of an important political reality: tariffs will make goods more expensive in the states they need to capture in 2020.”

Noting that Trump’s approval ratings in key states needed for his own re-election are plummeting, Barkan explained that as Trump’s overall numbers drop — GOP lawmakers who normally fear the president’s wrath will be emboldened to attack him — particularly if it will help them keep their jobs.

“This is the only kind of math Republican lawmakers understand, because it speaks to their survival,” he explained. “The most ravenous Republicans will never desert Trump, and his approval rating among party regulars remains strong, but his 2016 success hinged on razor-thin margins in a handful of midwestern states. There is no path to victory without them. Conservatives beyond the cult of Trump comprehend this – that their dear leader is not infallible, that his 30-year obsession with combating trade deficits could be his undoing.”

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According to the author the Republican Party under Trump has become, “The most pliant class of lawmakers in recent history, tolerating his rank incompetence in the hope he implements enough of the conservative agenda to set Democrats back a generation.”

However, that will only go so far if it comes down either sticking with Trump or fleeing the president to save their own skins.

“Denying science or catering to white supremacists was not enough to foment any kind of rebellion among Republicans in Congress – they, too, reject the reality of climate change and refuse to ostracize the most hateful elements of their base – but tariffs could do the trick, if only because they pose an electoral challenge for Trump 2020,” he concluded.

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