Worried Republicans told by White House they'll have to live with Trump's focus on race: reporter Robert Costa
Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters (C-SPAN/screen grab)

During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Washington Post correspondent Robert Costa explained that concerned senior Republicans have reached out to the White House for a theme they all can run on during the run-up to the November election and were told that the president is setting the agenda and is keeping racial issues as his focus.

Speaking with host Willie Geist, Costa explained that Republicans are worried they don't have a cohesive message for the 2020 election and that Trump is not helping matters.

"It's evident that Republicans are still searching for an answer," Costa reported. " I'm hearing from my sources across Senate and House races that they don't have a plan at this moment, and it's the hot summer of the campaign season."

"President Trump is targeting the Confederate flag as an issue. He's going after Mr. [Bubba] Wallace at NASCAR, one of the lone black drivers in that sport," he continued. "You see him eight, nine days ago retweeting a racist chant from The Villages, attacking the Black Lives Matter movement as a symbol of hate has led Republicans to wonder if they can run on anything else, and pressuring the White House to turn the page with the Trump Campaign."

"But they're hearing from the top advisers [that] this is driven by the president; the president personally is driving this message, this focus on race," he added.

"Bob, I can almost feel and see our viewers' eyes rolling in the back of their heads as they hear more Republicans being worried about something or deeply concerned about something the president has done because we've heard it so many times over the last three and a half, four years," Geist quipped. "Is there something different now about what he's saying and doing? Is it the racially charged tweets, the NASCAR thing? The Confederate flag, the preserving heritage, which is the euphemism for keeping the statues up, is there something different for them and their party different from previous moments?"

"No and their behavior is the same it's been for the last three and a half years under President Trump," Costa replied. "You don't see any significant break, those who broke with President Trump like senator Mitt Romney, have done so before on impeachment and other issues."

"This is the same private grumbling we've heard from three and a half years from Republicans talking about their own prospects, but the thing that's different now, Willy, is the fear -- the fear their power is at risk," he continued. "They have control of the Senate, they want to continue to control the nomination process in the courts and now they fear that's slipping away. You see across the map, even in traditionally red states Senate Democrats are having major hauls because of the grassroots energy on the left."

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