There’s been plenty of speculation in recent weeks about the possibility of Republican Party officials cutting their losses and giving up on Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Whether or not the chatter leads to action remains to be seen, but the possibility remains quite real.
But this discussion is focused primarily on financial resources: will the RNC, for example, continue to invest in Trump’s campaign, even if the party expects him to lose, or will money be redirected to down-ballot races? There is, however, another angle to this, related to rhetorical and institutional support – which Republicans have arguably already pulled.
Yesterday, for example, Hillary Clinton delivered a pretty brutal indictment of Trump and his role as the standard bearer for racists, xenophobes, and the extremist, paranoid fringe. It was the kind of speech that, ordinarily, Republicans would respond to by defending their party’s presidential nominee. Except in this case, as NBC News’ Chuck Todd noted this morning, GOP leaders said nothing.
“Hillary Clinton called the Republican nominee [Donald Trump] a racist, and all these Republicans … not a word. No Republicans outside the campaign said, ‘How dare you, Hillary Clinton, call the Republican nominee a racist.’ The sound of silence among mainstream Republican elected officials yesterday is stunning.”
It is, indeed. Part of the value in being in a political party is benefiting from institutional support when under fire. But instead of having Trump’s back, Republicans reminded the political world again yesterday that they’re content to hang the presidential hopeful out to dry.
RNC spokesperson Sean Spicer appeared on MSNBC earlier, and host Stephanie Ruhle asked the Republican if there was anything Hillary said that was untrue. Spicer didn’t answer directly.
Asked about Republican leaders’ silence, Spicer said, “I think Congress is in recess.”
And while it’s certainly true that lawmakers won’t return to Capitol Hill until Sept. 6, members nevertheless comment on public events – through press statements, on social media, in interviews etc. – literally every day. If prominent Republican officials wanted to rebuke Clinton and defend Trump yesterday, they could have quite easily.
They chose not to.