Republican governors and donors gathered behind closed doors in Washington a week ago, trying to summon the courage needed to take on Donald Trump. An animated Karl Rove spoke to the group, urging them to act immediately and warning them of potential disaster if they fail.
As The New York Times reports in a fascinating new peek behind the curtains:
“At a meeting of Republican governors the next morning, Paul R. LePage of Maine called for action. Seated at a long boardroom table at the Willard Hotel, he erupted in frustration over the state of the 2016 race, saying Mr. Trump’s nomination would deeply wound the Republican Party. Mr. LePage urged the governors to draft an open letter “to the people,” disavowing Mr. Trump and his divisive brand of politics.”
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. That’s the same Paul LePage who endorsed Trump on Friday, joining Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey. “I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular, so I think I should support him since we are one of the same cloth,” LePage said.
The Times piece also describes the intense pressure on Gov. John Kasich of Ohio to leave the race, and Kasich’s equally intense refusal to do so. But perhaps the best gauge of the panic setting in comes from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:
“While still hopeful that Mr. Rubio might prevail, Mr. McConnell has begun preparing senators for the prospect of a Trump nomination, assuring them that, if it threatened to harm them in the general election, they could run negative ads about Mr. Trump to create space between him and Republican senators seeking re-election. Mr. McConnell has raised the possibility of treating Mr. Trump’s loss as a given and describing a Republican Senate to voters as a necessary check on a President Hillary Clinton, according to senators at the lunches.”
That is a drowning man grasping at straws. There is almost zero chance that the Republicans would be able to hold the Senate if Trump is the electoral disaster that McConnell apparently fears. And Republican senators running anti-Trump ads? Any senator who took that course would alienate a good chunk of their own base, ensuring their defeat.