Last night, former right-wing Congressman and Trump ex-chief of staff Mick Mulvaney (R-NC) was on CNN when he noted that Trump's attempts to rewrite the history of his violent failed coup as manifestly false. He told Pamela Brown on Newsroom that he "was surprised to hear the President say that. Clearly there were people who were behaving themselves, and then there were people who absolutely were not, but to come out and say that everyone was fine and there was no risk, that's just manifestly false-- people died, other people were severely injured... It's not right to say there was no risk, I don't know how you can say that when people were killed."
Most Republicans are too scared to say anything to get Trump going-- even the ones who have always known... and that's been the case for years now. Republicans have never had any balls when it's come to standing up to Trump-- beginning with political pygmies Liddle Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and, most pathetic of all, Lindsey Graham-- who quickly kissed his ass and continue doing so even now. Knowing what you now know about Ted Cruz, see if you can watch this all the way through to the bitter end:
Today Trump coronavirus coordinator Debroah Birx revealed in a CNN documentary, COVID WAR: The Pandemic Doctors Speak Out, that she was on the receiving end of Trump's ire, not for a criticism of him, but for just being truthful about the pandemic. She said "the phone call followed her appearance on CNN in August. 'It was a CNN report in August that got horrible pushback. That was a very difficult time, because everybody in the White House was upset with that interview and the clarity that I brought about the epidemic,' Birx told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the documentary. 'I got called by the President,' Birx continued. 'It was very uncomfortable, very direct and very difficult to hear.' Asked by Gupta whether she was threatened during the call, Birx responded, 'I would say it was a very uncomfortable conversation.'"
A "very uncomfortable conversation" is not something most Republican politicians are willing to have with Señor Trumpanzee... although I had to hand it to Alaska's "other" senator this morning. Even though Trump has made it clear that his top priority for the 2022 Senate cycle is to defeat Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan went on This Week today and told Jon Karl he endorses Murkowski's reelection bid.
Trump is a mixed bag for Republican politicians. In deep red Confederate districts, he can pick every candidate and they will win their races. In districts where significant numbers of independents and moderates make districts more swingy, Trump can still pretty much dictate who the GOP nominees will be, but his endorsement can turn out being a kiss of death-- just like Betsy DeVos' and Scott Walkers' endorsements have been in the non-partisan Wisconsin state superintendent of education race between pro-public school Jill Underly and pro-charter school Deb Kerr.
This morning, writing for The Hill, Julia Manchester referred to Trump as the X-factor in the Virginia gubernatorial race, where he hasn't taken a stand yet in the bizarre Republican nomination contest, even though one of the candidates, crackpot state Senator Amanda Chase, bills herself as "Trump in hells" and was one of the rioters at his failed coup attempt on 1/6. Trump is actively involved in 2022 races but the Virginia election is this year, not next year. Manchester reported that veteran Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth said "Even though this election nationally is likely to be seen as the first election of 2022, I think it’s doubtful that Trump would get involved in Virginia, and if he did, it would be a negative, not a positive" for the state GOP, which lost every race Trump got involved with during his term.
Republicans got their asses kicked across Virginia, especially in statewide races. And Trump himself lost both times he was on the ballot in Virginia-- Hillary beating him 1,981,473 (49.73%) to 1,769,443 (44.41%) and the Biden winning 2,413,568 (54.11%) to 1,962,430 (44.00%). That was the worst performance of any Republican candidate in a Virginia presidential election since FDR beat Thomas Dewey in 1944. While Trump flipped no counties or independent cities in his favor since 2016, Biden won once solidly-Republican Chesterfield and Stafford counties and beat Trump in 4 red cities he won in 2016: Lynchburg, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, James City. The big suburban counties that were long the center of the Virginia GOP went to Biden with over 60% of the vote each.
Trump dragged the GOP down on every level of government and Virginia Democrats control every statewide office and both the state Senate and the House of Delegates. Crazy Chase, excluded, most Virginia Republicans are wary of Trump's embrace, even if it will determine who wins the nomination. Former House Speaker Kirk Cox "has steered clear of talking about Trump on the campaign trail and did not say in an interview with the AP whether he would like to see the former president stump on his behalf. 'I would like to see everyone turn and focus on Virginia and Virginians,' Cox said."
Former Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman, a vocal Trump critic who lost his GOP primary last year, told The Hill that whether the eventual Republican nominee accepts an endorsement from Trump could depend on their campaign's financial situation.
"The issue that you have for these individuals who want to stay in the party apparatus is they might feel pressure to take that endorsement based on where their money might come from," Riggleman said.
"If they make the kiss-the-ring pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago and they want to leverage some of those monies that might go into a gubernatorial contest in 2021, they might accept an endorsement for financial backing," he added. "It’s completely transactional with Trump."
Others argue that Trump's support would not be enough to outpace the Democratic momentum coming from the suburbs of Washington, D.C.
"The worst thing for the Republican Party would be to have him mobilize the Democrats in Northern Virginia," Holsworth said. "[Republicans] don’t exist anymore as an organized forced in Northern Virginia."
"The Democrats would want nothing more than a heavy Trump presence in this election," he added.
Indeed, the party is already at working trying to tie the former president to the GOP contenders in the race.
Four of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates-- former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan and Del. Lee Carter-- signed a joint statement on Thursday condemning their Republican counterparts for aligning themselves with Trump.
"The entire Republican field," the statement read, has taken its "complete embrace of Donald Trump a step beyond the far right extremism that has become the norm in the Virginia GOP."
Strategists point out that it's too early to say for sure what kind of role Trump will play ahead of Election Day, which is seven months away.
"Is it something Democrats would use in Fairfax County? Absolutely," said Doug Heye, former deputy chief of staff to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). "But also, what are the dynamics in the campaign at that point in October and November, and is Trump really leading a leading part of that conversation? I don’t think we know."
If he really doesn't know, he's learned nothing about Donald Trump over the last few years. Maybe this "letter to Donnie" from Virginia activist Fergie Reid will remind him:
Oh please, please, please Donald, pretty please, make a pilgrimage to Virginia and set up camp at your golf course. Campaign relentlessly from now until November for the Trumpiest Republican candidates in Virginia....please, oh please, oh please !!!
I’m certain the Republican Party of Virginia will welcome you, (and your entire brood- entourage), into their loving arms and make you feel the warm glow of their undying adoration. Please be sure to bring Don Jr., Eric, Laura, Ivanka, Jared, Melania, Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, Kayleigh McEnany, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Brad Parscale, David Bossie, Hope Hicks, Roger Stone, George Papadopoulos, Paul Manfort, Mike Flynn, Rick Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and anyone else for whom you may need to secure a temporary release from incarceration; bring ‘em all !! Republicans in Virginia will thank you henceforth, for decades.
Norfolk's fiery progressive, Hannah Kinder, told me earlier that "It is imperative that we continue the momentum towards progress that we started in Virginia during the 2021 legislative session. The GOP sees this progress, and the upcoming statewide elections here in the Commonwealth, as a litmus test for what is to come nationwide in a post-Trump America. We are seeing Trumpism play out in the statewide races, but it is becoming more apparent in our local campaigns as well. Here in District 89 we have a Republican candidate running for the first time since 2005. This is remarkable for a District that is overwhelmingly Democratic. The GOP is fighting hard to keep the control they are swiftly losing following the failed coup and Virginia is their first battle."
Well to the north of Kinder's district, Matt Rogers is running in a solid blue Democratic district and doesn't have to worry about Trumpists, at least not in his own race. But, Matt's a solidarity kind of leader and told me that his state's Republicans "are aware that Democrats are on offense. Someone should inform many rank and file Dems in the state who are convinced that the landscape hasn’t changed and that Trump was to credit for all of our progress. Look up how many Democrats challenged Republicans then compared to now. It’a night and day-- because Dems know we’re going to hold on to our majority. Don’t believe us; just watch."