After news broke of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s lewd comments captured on a 2005 tape, outrage from the Republican establishment as swift and loud — if not more so even — than that coming from the Hillary campaign and Democrats in general. Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus quickly issued a statement condemning Trump’s comments, and was quickly followed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. Ryan not only stated he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments from 2005; the speaker also disinvited Trump from appearing with him at a Wisconsin rally scheduled for today.
Since last night, a growing list of other Republicans have denounced Trump, some formally withdrawing their support, in their attempts to distance themselves from the controversy. One can’t help but conclude the fast distancing is largely for their own political reasons.
If indeed politics is a primary driver for such definitive public denouncements, are these Republican leaders actually helping or hurting their own causes by distancing themselves from the GOP nominee? If what happened to Paul Ryan in Wisconsin is any indication, they may be misreading the political tea leaves.
After disinviting Trump to the event, Speaker Ryan found himself in the somewhat awkward situation of being “shouted down” by chants of “Trump,” according to myriad event attendees and observers.
Ryan, who kicked off the speech talking about the “elephant in the room,” said that Trump’s banter with Billy Bush before taping an Access Hollywood segment in 2005 was “a troubling situation.”
The chants for “Trump” start at about the 6:40 mark in the video below.
Ryan was joined onstage by Wisconsites Ron Johnson and Scott Walker after the “Trump” shouts began, at the end of Ryan’s speech. Some also shouted, “God bless Trump,” and “See ya, Paul! Jackass!”
Paul Ryan speaking now in Wisconsin. People shouting, “What about Trump?” and “You turned your back on him!”
— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 8, 2016
Ryan brings other Wisconsin Republicans up on stage to say goodbye, hecklers yell, “GOD BLESS TRUMP!”
“SEE YA PAUL! JACKASS!”
— McKay Coppins (@mckaycoppins) October 8, 2016
Here are a few photos from the event as well:
Put aside for a moment how you might feel about Trump’s 2005 comments that appear to have become the single most important campaign issue suddenly. Is the GOP establishment reaction just another in a long line of miscalculations — and misreading of voter sentiment — that has left it flat-footed throughout this entire presidential process, going way back to the early primary season? Is this just another sign that they still just don’t get what really matters to the voters who are responsible for carrying Trump — against all odds and predictions — not only all the way to the GOP nomination, but to a competitive race with an opponent who enjoys every possible advantage, including a press corps who’s all-in for her?
It’s really too early to tell — and, as with everything else in this election cycle, impossible to predict. But one can’t help but wonder if many voters will see this latest episode as just another example of the Republican establishment lacking the intestinal fortitude to stand tough against an opponent who wants to continue its destruction of our very republic — and is using every dirty trick in the book to do it — and focus on the issues that truly matter to our nation? Will this just feed the anger of voters who have had enough of Washington insiders acting out of their own political interests first, and the interests of our nation second?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]