Friday, March 4, 2016

What a difference a day makes - if you are John McCain

McCain is no longer Jumping for Trump. Yesterday he was like "Trump"; today he is like "No Trump." No matter. It may be too little, too late.

Yesterday I reported on the Republicans lining up to do the Donald Trump Jump. John McCain was one of them.

Our own beloved GOPlin, John McCain, has signed on to Jump for Trump. Steve Benen:

An NPR reporter asked John McCain on Monday if he’s serious about supporting Donald Trump if he wins the Republican presidential nomination. “I said I support the nominee,” McCain replied. When the reporter asked if that generic principle applies to Trump, the Arizona senator got agitated.

After an exasperated sigh, McCain told NPR, in the most annoyed tone possible, “Hello? I said I. Support. The. Nominee!”

If McCain is irritated by this line of questioning now, he should brace himself for months of additional aggravation. The New York Times reported this week:

If Republicans are worried about a Donald J. Trump presidential nomination damaging the party down the ballot in November, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, the Arizona Democratic who is challenging Senator John McCain, is offering a prime example of why they should be.

With Mr. Trump leading his Republican rivals in the race for delegates, Ms. Kirkpatrick unveiled an advertisement on Monday that hammers Mr. McCain for his promise to support the eventual Republican nominee – even if it is Mr. Trump.

The minute-long ad is available online [here][vid]. Note, it juxtaposes some of Trump’s offensive rhetoric – including his rhetorical shots at McCain – with the senator’s vow to support his party’s nominee, no matter who it is.

A spokesperson for the McCain campaign called the ad a “cheap, pathetic display,” but I have no idea why. This is hardly out of bounds. If McCain is prepared to support his party’s nominee, even if it’s Donald Trump, the senator can’t seriously expect to declare the subject off-limits to scrutiny.

But maybe he's having second thoughts about Jumping for Trump.

I guess he did reconsider. Maybe Kirkpatrick's ad got to him. The NY Times reports that McCain has now joined Mitt Romney in casting Trump as totally unfit for the Presidency.

A divided Republican Party erupted into open and bitter warfare on Thursday as its two previous presidential nominees delivered an extraordinary rebuke of its current front-runner, Donald J. Trump, warning that his election could put the United States and its democratic system in peril.

All this follows Romney's scathing speech infused with obvious disgust aimed at Trump. (The transcript of Romney's speech is here.)

In a detailed, thorough and lacerating assault on Mr. Trump and the angry movement he has inspired, Mitt Romney, the party’s nominee in 2012, attacked him as “a fraud” and “a phony” who would drive the country to the point of collapse.

“He’s playing the American public for suckers,” Mr. Romney said, breaking from his customary restraint. “He has neither the temperament nor the judgment to be president,” he added.

As soon as he was finished, Senator John McCain, the party’s standard-bearer in 2008, endorsed Mr. Romney’s jeremiad and denounced Mr. Trump as a candidate who was ignorant of foreign policy and has made “dangerous” pronouncements on national security.

For a party that prizes unity and loyalty, it was an unheard-of onslaught against a figure who is marching toward the nomination, highlighting the widening and seemingly unbridgeable gaps between Republican elites and their electorate.

The mounting hostility between Mr. Trump and traditional party leaders has pushed the party to the edge of rupture. In swift succession, senior Republicans have registered their disapproval by either vowing to withhold support from Mr. Trump in a general election or declining to back him in the primaries. On Thursday, dozens of conservative national security leaders released a letter announcing that they would never vote for Mr. Trump.

Check out the Times report for other Republicans' finally outing themselves against Trump.

Historians could not recall another time in the last century when the Republican Party’s previous nominees had so harshly attacked a would-be successor. The most recent antecedent, said David Greenberg, an associate professor at Rutgers University, might be the 1912 election, when a former president, Theodore Roosevelt, led an exodus of progressive voters from the Republican Party and ran as a third-party candidate against the incumbent, William Howard Taft.

“There probably hasn’t been this level of personal invective by one Republican nominee against another leading candidate,” Mr. Greenberg said. “Ever.”

Two questions remain for those Republicans aligning against Trump. Will it be enough? Will it be in time?

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