With less than four weeks to go in the 2016 election, some Republicans are beginning to distance themselves from or outright shun Donald Trump in their TV ads.
New ads from House Republicans' campaign arm and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) both, in different ways, try to get past the Trump question. And they could be a preview of what's to come.
The ad from Toomey begins with the senator saying, "I have a lot of disagreements with Donald Trump. I've been very clear about that. But what's important for Pennsylvanians is having a senator who'll stand up to any president's bad ideas."
A new ad from the National Republican Congressional Committee basically assumes that Hillary Clinton will be president, and makes no mention of Trump.
"While Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi seek rubber stamps like Kim Myers to fast-track their agenda, our security and livelihoods are at risk," the narrator says in the ad for GOP candidate Claudia Tenney in New York's 22nd district.
The latter ad hearkens back to a John McCain video from September, after his primary victory, in which he talks about a world in which Clinton is the president and needs to be held in-check.
"My opponent, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, is a good person," McCain said in the video. "But if Hillary Clinton is elected president, Arizona will need a senator who will act as a check — not a rubber stamp — for the White House."
This isn't a new strategy, of course. As our own Amber Phillips wrote when the McCain video came out:
McCain is pulling from a playbook Republicans used two decades ago to ditch the Republican presidential nominee. Before McCain, the highest-profile Republican to deliver that message was House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who sent a fundraising email in August that read, "If we fail to protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check." It looked to The Post's Jenna Johnson and Karen Tumulty that Ryan might have predicted Clinton would win in a landslide (because only a historic Clinton landslide would be enough to put the GOP House majority in peril).
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who also won his primary Tuesday, said something similar in June: "I feel deeply that no matter who is elected president of the United States," he told MSNBC, "we're going to need a Senate that has people willing to check and balance that."
The Toomey ad, meanwhile, is a more direct repudiation of Trump and his politics. Toomey is basically acknowledging that this guy is weighing him down -- which is 100 percent true, if you look at polling in Pennsylvania -- and emphasizing that he's not a Trump Republican. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) in August became the first House Republican to use this tack.
These two new ads represent different approaches to the GOP's Trump problem. But if Trump can't right the ship, they're likely to be imitated in the days and weeks ahead.