SETTING THE SCENE. Even before this week, the GOP has struggled with Donald Trump. He’s maintained his frontrunner status, but the prospect of his nomination as the Party’s presidential candidate was a concern for down ballot races – especially those of vulnerable incumbent senators facing grueling elections in moderate states like Illinois. New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. (Reminder: the NRSC had to write a memo for their candidates on how to navigate the Trump tide.) That concern has been replaced by all out panic.
AP: “Donald Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from entering the United States is shoving the Republican Party to the edge of chaos, And Republicans up for re-election in the Senate grew terse in the Capitol hallways as they were asked again and again to respond to Trump’s remarks — a glimpse of their political futures if the former reality show star captures the GOP nomination.”
Politico: “From vulnerable senators to top party officials, the fear is palpable and bursting into public view” as Trump jeopardizes Republicans’ fragile majority in the Senate.
Huffington Post: Trump “would likely be an albatross on Republicans nationwide” if he were to be the nominee.
“DONALD TRUMP HAS HIJACKED THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.” Here’s Chuck Todd’s take on what the GOP faced in the wake of Trump’s dangerous call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.:
“Let’s look at the big picture here: Donald Trump has hijacked the Republican Party, pure and simple. You now have an entire party that had been for months quietly whining about this, nervous about this, concerned about this, but every time they tried to do something about it, it blew up in their face. Whether this blows up in their face or not they may have no choice now. It is a total distraction. It is a total ridiculous proposition and now the party has to figure out how to get out from under him.”
#PARTYOFTRUMP: GOP SENATORS STILL VOW TO SUPPORT HIM AS NOMINEE. The latest comments weren’t low enough for vulnerable GOP senators to fully distance themselves from Trump.
Buzzfeed: “One question — would they support Trump if he’s the GOP presidential nominee? — continues to dog the [Republican] party and its most vulnerable representatives.”
Kelly Ayotte: “But when asked whether she would support Trump if he wins the Republican nomination, Ayotte didn’t rule it out…’I’ll support the Republican nominee.’”
Rob Portman: “I intend to support the Republican nominee…”
John McCain: “I will support the nominee of the party…”
Pat Toomey: Donald Trump will be the key note speaker at a Pennsylvania GOP fundraiser, where the funds will go to benefit Toomey’s re-election campaign.
Florida Senate Candidates: Ron DeSantis, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and David Jolly have all refused to say whether they would support presidential nominee Trump. Congressman DeSantis has still refused to condemn the abhorrent comments Trump made.
MUST READ ARTICLE. From the Washington post: Here are the 5 Senate Republicans who should be very worried about Donald Trump
In other words: Trump is Senate Republicans’ worst nightmare right now. His ban-Muslim-immigrants comment is undoubtedly going to make it harder for vulnerable Senate Republicans — who are trying to hang onto the Senate by defending 24 of the 34 seats up for reelection in 2016 — to argue that their party hasn’t gone off the deep end ideologically.
1. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk
2. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson
3. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman
4. New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
5. Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
OUR TAKE: In the wake of Donald Trump’s latest shameful policy proposal, endangered Republican senators are in major trouble. Instead of breaking away from a dangerous and damaging frontrunner, vulnerable senators caved to their party’s new standard bearer and are still planning to support Trump should he become the party’s nominee. This is a turning point for these candidates, who were already struggling to cover up their reckless records and have absolutely no standing to do so now in the #PartyofTrump.
REPUBLICANS CONTINUE TO FUNDRAISE OFF OF TRUMP. Buzzfeed reported that the NRSC has been fundraising off of Donald Trump since May, offering stickers, koozies, and t-shirts to donors. The NRSC most recently sent a Trump-centric email on Wednesday, just days after Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslims from the United States. We definitely disagree with the NRSC that an “I’m With Trump” koozie is the “perfect gift.”
DSCC LAUNCHES DIGITAL ADS TO HIGHLIGHT KELLY AYOTTE’S FAILED ATTEMPTS TO REWRITE HER RECORD.This week, the DSCC launched a digital ad campaign on Facebook and Twitter highlighting Kelly Ayotte’s attempt to mislead New Hampshireabout her position on closing the terrorist gun loophole. Ayotte voted against a commonsense measure that would prevent known or suspected terrorists from legally purchasing guns in the United States last week. And then, like she has been doing for months, Ayotte immediately tried to distort her vote by touting her support for an irresponsible sham amendment. Ayotte received negative headlines for her attempts to rewrite her record, with the New York Daily News saying that Ayotte and other Senate Republicans “may be voting against measures to keep guns from suspected terrorists, but they’re still touting the concept.” Ayotte was additionally called out by New Hampshire voters during her Facebook Q&A on Wednesday, where voters questioned her vote and her allegiance to the NRA. It’s clear that as much as Ayotte tries to mislead New Hampshire, voters will see through to the facts.
ROB PORTMAN SAYS THAT ISIS HELPS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. Appearing on Bloomberg Politics, Rob Portman said that ISIS is helping the Republican Party. It is shameful that Portman would say that a global terrorist organization would be good for Republican political gains.
THE MAJORITY IS NOT WORKING. MSNBC highlighted how the GOP-led Senate is blocking a key counter-terrorism nominee because they’d prefer to play politics.
In light of the recent focus on counter-terrorism and national security, common sense suggests the Senate would want to quickly confirm Adam Szubin to serve as the Treasury Department’s under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes.
…As the Huffington Post recently reported, we’re talking about a job that “involves tracking terrorists to prevent them from raising money on the black market and elsewhere.” Szubin is extremely well qualified; he’s worked on blocking terrorist financing in previous administrations; and he enjoys broad, bipartisan support in the Senate.
And yet, the Senate isn’t voting on his nomination.
…But even if we look past the ambiguity, the end result is the same: an uncontroversial, perfectly qualified counter-terrorism nominee is being delayed – without explanation – apparently because Republicans don’t like President Obama…
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was promoted to his current post, he promised Americans we’d see a new, different kind of chamber. Nearly a year later, I suppose he was correct – because the Senate is now far worse.
IN THE STATES
MISSOURI – KANDER MEMO HIGHLIGHTS ROY BLUNT’S NATIONAL SECURITY WEAKNESSES. The Kander campaignreleased a report on Thursday outlining Roy Blunt’s weak national security record. The report notes Blunt’s reckless vote to shutdown the Department of Homeland Security, his vote against Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and his missed committee hearings on vital issues like the rise of ISIS.
WISCONSIN – FEINGOLD READY TO LEAD “SEA OF CHANGE” IN WISCONSIN. This week, The Capital Times highlighted Russ Feingold’s strong campaign centered on traveling across the state and listening to Wisconsinites.
PENNSYLVANIA – JUDGE RESTREPO GETS CONFIRMATION HEARING AFTER MONTHS OF BEING BLOCKED BY TOOMEY. After Pat Toomey blocked his own nominee “for reasons nobody seems to understand,” Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo is finally setto get a confirmation vote in the Senate. The seat has been vacant for more than 900 days, creating what’s known as a “judicial emergency.”
TWEET OF THE WEEK – This week’s tweet goes to Buzzfeed’s Evan McMorris-Santoro for highlighting just how ridiculous the NRSC fundraising off of Donald Trump is: @EvanMcSan: “Senate GOP quotes: boo Trump boo Sen GOP $ email: would you like a ton of Trump swag from the NRSC? by @tparti http://www.buzzfeed.com/tariniparti/republican-senate-committees-perfect-holiday-gift-a-trump-ko#.frZZNeny7 …”