According to a report from Politico, GOP lawmakers are no longer afraid of crossing Donald Trump now that polling shows he is about to lose badly in November in what Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) predicted would be a "bloodbath" election.
Recognizing that the president has been weakened by his bungling of the COVID-19 health crisis -- which has now invaded the White House and crippled Trump's re-election efforts -- GOP lawmakers are now speaking as if it is a foregone conclusion that former Vice President Joe Biden will be occupying the Oval Office in January.
As the Politico report notes, "A barrage of barbed comments in recent days shows how markedly the calculus of fear has shifted in the GOP. For much of the past four years, Republican politicians were scared above all about incurring the wrath of the president and his supporters with any stray gesture or remark that he might regard as not sufficiently deferential. Now, several of them are evidently more scared of not being viewed by voters as sufficiently independent."
While some of the comments are coming from Republican lawmakers who are trailing in the polls -- in part because Donald Trump is at the top of the ticket this election cycle -- others who are not facing voters in 2020 are getting in their shots, not caring what the embattled president might say or do in response.
According to the report, "After Trump abruptly called off talks on a new economic recovery plan this week, a number of Republicans publicly broke with Trump’s strategy. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, one of the most vulnerable Republicans up for reelection, went so far as to call Trump’s move a 'huge mistake.' Rep. John Katko of New York, who represents a district Hillary Clinton carried, made clear he 'disagrees' with the president. And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a top Trump ally who is locked in the toughest race of his political career, urged Trump to come back to the negotiating table. In the face of the uproar, Trump did reverse course, though a deal remains highly uncertain."
As a sign he believes Donald Trump will lose, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) has taken to telling voters they need to re-elect him so he can stay in office to battle a "Biden presidency."
According to the report, what brought about the sea change in attitudes about the president is the belief he won't survive November's election.
"One thing that’s changed, operatives in both parties say, is that there is now strength in numbers. A growing roster of Republicans are stepping sideways or ducking from the camera to make sure they are not captured in the same frame as Trump. In addition, Trump is simply too consumed by the resident chaos all around his West Wing in the closing weeks of his own reelection campaign to carry out punitive measures against GOP disloyalists," Politico reports.
According to Doug Heye, a former Republican National Committee communications director, GOP lawmakers are acting like “animals before an earthquake” getting out of the way of what looks like “a disastrous election for the Republicans.”
"It’s really hard to successfully do that, given the intensity of Trump’s base,” Heye added. “They allow you to be critical of Trump on [certain] issues, but not on things that are really Trump-centric.”
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