This post has been updated with more details of what Trump has said about alleged affairs.
Exactly one week out from the Iowa caucuses, the Republican establishment is starting to believe — and accept — that Donald Trump could very well be their nominee.
Some members of the tea party wing of the party appear to be coming to terms with that as well. But, if the tweets that follow are any indication, they're not going to be happy about it.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) (it's pronounced "SASS") apparently spent his Sunday evening watching football and doing that time-honored thing politicians do to try to draw attention these days: Tweet up a storm on a subject.
The subject was, of course, GOP front-runner Trump. The topic: Asking Trump policy questions. The point: Trump may well be the party's most likely nominee, but many of his views are anathema to the GOP.
And it got personal. Sasse even appeared to bring up Trump's well-documented affair with actress Marla Maples and his past comments about being with married women.
In the tweet, Sasse takes issue with how Trump "brags" about "many affairs." That's up for debate, including whether Trump had more than one affair. Trump wrote that he once considered an open marriage with his first wife, and in his book "The Art of the Comeback" he said: "If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller."
Trump has also said: "I have too much respect for women in general, but if I did [write about my love life], the world would take serious notice. Beautiful, famous, successful, married — I've had them all, secretly, the world's biggest names..."
But he has also downplayed such rumors: "If I’d had affairs with half the starlets and female athletes the newspapers linked me with, I’d have no time to breathe." (Trump said in December that his personal life is indeed fair game on the campaign trail.)
Sasse is an anti-establishment, first-time officeholder who was elected in 2014 with the support of tea party leaders like Trump's rival, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), and Trump's newest friend on the campaign trail, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin.
But Sasse has made clear he's no friend of Trump's. Shortly after Trump suggested banning Muslim immigrants temporarily from the country, Sasse took to the Senate floor and, without using Trump's name, lamented the rise of "demagoguing leaders" on the campaign trail and "a megalomaniac strongman ... screaming about travel bans and deportation."
Sasse is such a Trump critic, his invitation Friday to speak at a New Hampshire presidential town hall (former vice president Dick Cheney was stuck in the snow) was considered worth a write-up in Politico.
After speaking in New Hampshire, Sasse logged into his personal Twitter account and tried to channel the spirit of backhanded compliments that Trump does so well. In his first few tweets, Sasse congratulated Trump on his campaign:
The senator spent the next two hours pointing out — in the form of an interview — everything he thought Trump was doing wrong as a Republican candidate, from supporting universal health care (Trump used to favor single-payer) to proposing a strong presidency to marital infidelity. (You can read all of his tweets on Twitchy.)
It's just one more example of how conflicted the Republican Party is about their most-likely nominee.