Republicans

Trump Digital Aide Got $1 Million Payout

“The Republican Party’s top digital strategist in 2016 got a nearly $1 million payout from a firm he co-founded that collected online contributions to the party and its nominee, Donald Trump — despite earlier claims that the strategist had severed his ties to the company,” Politico reports.

“Gerrit Lansing’s joint roles, while legal, have raised questions of cronyism and profit-making at the Republican National Committee… Republican operatives representing multiple GOP presidential and Senate campaigns said that Lansing pushed them to use the company he co-founded, Revv, to collect their online donations after he was hired for the top RNC job — and that he used the fact that the RNC was using his platform as a selling point. Lansing was subsequently named to a top role in Trump’s White House.”

Trump’s Woes Take Toll on the GOP

A new Pew Research survey finds President Trump’s approval rating is 39% — precisely the same as two months ago. The percentage of Americans who disapprove of Trump is virtually unchanged: 54%, compared to 56% in February.

“The most profound shifts in the Pew survey are in Americans’ perceptions of the GOP beyond Trump. Just 40%  of Americans have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, down from 47% in January, prior to Trump’s inauguration.”

Suburban GOP Voters Sour on Party

New York Times: “Early missteps by President Trump and congressional leaders have weighed heavily on voters from the party’s more affluent wing, anchored in right-of-center suburbs around major cities in the South and Midwest. Never beloved in these precincts, Mr. Trump appears to be struggling to maintain support from certain voters who backed him last year mainly as a way of defeating Hillary Clinton.”

“Interviews with Republican-leaning voters in four suburban districts — in Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota and New Jersey — revealed a sour outlook on the party. These voters, mainly white professionals, say they expected far more in the way of results by now… Should Republican voters remain so demoralized — and Democrats so fired up — it could imperil dozens of congressional seats that are usually safe.”

Trump Solidifies Grip on the Republican Party

Politico: “Now comes stage two of President Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party. With the Republican National Committee firmly in his control, the White House and Trump’s political allies are now moving to lock down the state Republican parties, installing loyalists in top positions and laying the groundwork for the 2018 midterms and his 2020 reelection campaign in key swing states.”

“Under the watchful eye of the president and the White House political office, Trump skeptics have been ousted from atop state committees. Lines of contact have been established to gauge the political temperature on the ground and monitor key upcoming races — beginning with the 2017 governor and attorney general races in Virginia.”

The GOP Is In Free Fall

Michael Gerson: “This is a pretty bad combination: empty, easily distracted, vindictive, shallow, impatient, incompetent and morally small. This is not the profile of a governing party…”

“It is now dawning on Republicans what they have done to themselves. They thought they could somehow get away with Trump. That he could be contained. That the adults could provide guidance. That the economy might come to the rescue. That the damage could be limited.”

“Instead, they are seeing a downward spiral of incompetence and public contempt — a collapse that is yet to reach a floor. A presidency is failing. A party unable to govern is becoming unfit to govern. And what, in the short term, can be done about it? Nothing. Nothing at all.”

GOP Unity Elusive With Obama Gone

New York Times: “For eight years, those divisions were often masked by Republicans’ shared antipathy toward President Barack Obama. Now, as the party struggles to adjust to the post-Obama political order, it is facing a nagging question: How do you hold together when the man who unified you in opposition is no longer around?”

“Mr. Obama provided conservatives with not just a health law to loathe and a veto pen to blame, but also a visage that allowed their opposition to be more palpable.”

“Republicans also have to contend with an outsider president who never had much of an affinity or loyalty for their party, and who, as a novice politician, has not built the relationships in Washington that are usually needed to get big deals done.”

Freedom Caucus Is Acting Like a Separate Party

FiveThirtyEight: “The problem for Trump and Ryan now is that there is no way to placate the Freedom Caucus without upsetting more moderate Republican House members. The moderates may be more willing to compromise than the Freedom Caucus, but not if the Freedom Caucus members get everything they want.”

“One remaining question is whether the caucus will start to function like a separate party that is only loosely affiliated with a major party, as the Southern Democrats did for much of the 20th century. Southern Democrats exacted lots of legislative compromises to protect their interests, most notably shaping public policy to preserve segregation and exclude African-Americans from federal programs. Since then, the specific issues and ideas have changed. Freedom Caucus members have a pretty good idea of what kinds of bills they don’t like. The question remains what kinds of concessions — if any — can bring them on board.”

GOP Leadership Hit from Both Sides

Washington Post: “Some parts of these botched negotiations looked a lot like the recent past. Franks and his House Freedom Caucus cronies played the role of obstructionists who will buck party leaders no matter if it’s John Boehner, Ryan’s predecessor, or now Trump. These ideologues gobbled up tons of attention, resulting in much care from Trump, Vice President Pence and top West Wing advisers.”

“Other parts of the negotiation, however, were new and quite different from the previous six years of Republican control of the House. Nothing capped this off more than the stunning announcement Friday morning from Frelinghuysen, just three months into his hold on the coveted Appropriations Committee gavel, that bucked leadership.”

“A 22-year veteran whose family traces its establishment lineage to the Continental Congress, Frelinghuysen won his chairmanship uncontested with the blessing of Ryan and the leadership team. He’s not someone who rocks the boat — he supported impeachment articles against Bill Clinton — but his pronouncement Friday sent a jolt through the Capitol.”

Quote of the Day

“I’ve been in this job eight years, and I’m wracking my brain to think of one thing our party has done that’s been something positive, that’s been something other than stopping something else from happening. We need to start having victories as a party. And if we can’t, then it’s hard to justify why we should be back here.”

— Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), quoted by The Atlantic.

You Can’t Blame the Democrats

A Wall Street Journal editorial rips the Republican leadership:

“House Republicans pulled their health-care bill shortly before a vote on Friday, and for once the media dirge is right about a GOP defeat. This is a major blow to the Trump Presidency, the GOP majority in Congress, and especially to the cause of reforming and limiting government. The damage is all the more acute because it was self-inflicted. President Trump was right to say on Friday that Democrats provided no help, but Democrats were never going to vote to repeal President Obama’s most important legislation. And that’s no excuse. Republicans have campaigned for more than seven years on repealing and replacing Obamacare, and they finally have a President ready to sign it. In the clutch they choked.”