But here’s the question: How many Republicans responded on Trump’s behalf? Given that Clinton has now telegraphed that she will continue casting him in these terms, how forcefully will Republicans push back?
Chuck Todd raised that question this morning:
It’s a good question. But it’s worth adding an additional point: Even as Clinton’s attacks on Trump were receiving widespread media attention and being digested by the political classes, Republicans were actually in defensive mode about the very criticisms of Trump that Clinton launched.
For instance, the New York Times reports this morning that legal experts worry that a Trump presidency represents a genuine authoritarian threat and could precipitate a real constitutional crisis. In the article, Senator John McCain gamely defended Trump, saying he did not think that a Trump presidency endangers the nation. McCain added: “We have a Congress. We have the Supreme Court. We’re not Romania.”
Meanwhile, in a radio interview earlier this week, McConnell said he did not fear Trump would trample the rule of law. “He’ll have a White House counsel,” McConnell said. “There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do.”
That doesn’t exactly seem heavy on conviction. And regardless, in a separate interview with CNN, McConnell actually conceded that Trump’s divisive rhetoric could harm the GOP in a lasting fashion among Latinos, just as Barry Goldwater’s 1964 candidacy harmed the GOP with African Americans. There was also this:
Asked if he would draft legislation on Trump’s behalf over a temporary ban of Muslims from entering the U.S., a signature Trump proposal, McConnell said: “I’d say no.”
In other words, broadly speaking, Republicans are either mounting weak pushback against the charges Clinton is now amplifying, or not defending Trump’s positions at all.
Even Paul Ryan’s declaration yesterday that he would vote for Trump had a faint-hearted feeling to it. At first his staff wouldn’t even confirm that his vote for Trump constituted an endorsement. Overall, Ryan exhibited all the enthusiasm of someone getting marched off to the gallows with a sack over his head.
And so, it’s worth raising the question: How many Republicans actually disagree with Clinton’s depiction of Trump, anyway?
* DEMS WEIGH HOW TO NUDGE SANDERS OUT: CNN reports that Dems on Capitol Hill are mulling how best to bring the Dem primary process to a close, though in reality there actually isn’t much worry about Sanders burning it all down:
Senators and aides say they’ve felt reassured after recent discussions with Sanders and his advisers that he won’t be a destructive force once voting concludes in mid-June…If he doesn’t drop out, the options on how to persuade him to quit boil down to this: Propose potential process reforms, including gutting the role of superdelegates in choosing the next nominee, give him a prime speaking slot at the Democratic Convention and even dump the head of the Democratic National Committee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
And as I’ve reported, it appears Clinton is open to an endgame that might include concessions to Sanders, so it’s plausible that we may get a resolution by the time we get to the convention.
* POLLING ALL OVER THE MAP IN CALIFORNIA: A new Los Angeles Times poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Bernie Sanders by 49-39 among likely California Dem primary voters, but it finds Bernie with a very slight edge, 44-43, among all potential voters.
This comes after two other polls (NBC and Field) have shown a near tie. Yet the polling averages put Clinton up 48-42. Whoever wins, a close finish seems inevitable, which won’t alter the delegate math in any case.
* RYAN STILL KEEPING TRUMP AT ARM’S LENGTH, SORT OF: Paul Ryan endorsed Donald Trump yesterday, but Buzzfeed reports that he isn’t sure how much help he’ll lend to Trump’s presidential run:
The speaker’s office is still debating how closely tied they want to be with Trump when it comes to fundraising and campaigning. Trump has been struggling to put together a fundraising operation that can keep up with Hillary Clinton and could use help from Ryan….Sources familiar with Ryan’s thinking told BuzzFeed News that it’s still too early to say how involved the speaker will be and that Ryan’s primary focus is going to remain campaigning for House members.
If Trump doesn’t improve his abysmal numbers with, well, virtually every voter group, those who are trying to keep GOP Congressional majorities will need to maintain the appearance of distance from him.
* A VERY WEAK JOBS REPORT: Oof:
The unemployment rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 4.7 percent in May, and nonfarm payroll employment changed little (+38,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today….The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for March was revised from +208,000 to +186,000, and the change for April was revised from +160,000 to +123,000. With these revisions, employment gains in March and April combined were 59,000 less than previously reported.
Many on the twitters noted, however, that the unemployment rate now at its lowest point since 2007.
* A NOTE ON THE SUNDAY SHOWS: The folks at NBC have announced a schedule change: Meet the Press is running at 8 AM eastern time on Sunday this week, due to sports programming.
* HAS HILLARY FOUND THE RIGHT TONE AGAINST TRUMP? MSNBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald reports that Clinton advisers think her speech yesterday ripping Trump as temperamentally unfit for the presidency got the approach to Trump right:
Foreign policy is typically discussed in somber tones befitting the seriousness of war and peace. While some may lament Clinton’s delivery — at times strident, sarcastic and even humorous — the candidate and her aides seem to have concluded the attitude was the missing factor they need to take on a former reality TV star….Trump is often credited for voicing what many people are thinking but rarely willing to say out loud, and Clinton seemed to take the same blunt approach to him.
Contempt and ridicule seems like the right approach.
* AND THE QUOTE OF THE DAY, TRUMPIAN LACK OF SELF AWARENESS EDITION: In her speech yesterday, Clinton blasted Trump as temperamentally unfit for the presidency. Trump responded last night:
“She does not look presidential,” he said. “My temperament is so much tougher and so much better than her temperament.”
A perfectly self-refuting response.