Trump lashes out at Republicans, as the GOP tries to distance themselves from him

The Republican Party is already worried about the long-term damage that Trump is doing to their brand

Published August 17, 2017 9:09AM (EDT)

 (AP/Evan Vucci)
(AP/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump woke up on Thursday morning and insulted two Republican senators, exacerbating the headaches he is causing the party which he is ostensibly supposed to lead.

Trump's tweets against Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina are only going to further deepen the divide between himself and a Republican Party increasingly horrified by his conduct.

As a result, the Republican Party is now at a crossroads.

If Republican leaders continue to support Trump (at least for the most part), despite his alt-right rhetoric and policies, they will risk being permanently identified with that movement and thus lose out on any chance to expand their brand beyond an overwhelmingly white base. Should they turn against Trump, however, there is the chance that they will pay for that decision in primary elections.

Some Republican leaders are already speaking out, warning of the dire predicament in which their president has placed the party.

On Wednesday morning, Graham responded to Trump's tweets by pleading with Trump to speak out against "the most racist and hate-filled individuals in our country" who have been praising him.

"For the sake of our nation — as our president — please fix this," Graham continues. "History is watching us all."

David Holt, an Oklahoma state senator running for mayor of Oklahoma City, told The New York Times, "The last year and especially the last few days have basically erased 15 years of efforts by Republicans to diversify the party."

He added, "If I tried to sell young people in general but specifically minority groups on the Republican Party today, I’d expect them to laugh me out of the room. How can you not be concerned when the country’s demographics are shifting away from where the Republican Party seems to be shifting now?"

Flake himself admitted on Wednesday, "We’ve got to stand up to these kinds of things if we want to be a governing majority in the future."

Similarly, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas referred to Trump's Charlottesville comments as "embarrassing," while Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida described the actions of white nationalists as "repugnant." One Republican senator, Jerry Moran of Kansas, declared that "white supremacy, bigotry and racism have absolutely no place in our society, and no one — especially the president of the United States — should ever tolerate it."

Of course, despite these trepidations from individual Republican leaders (as well as a recent Marist survey which discovered a slight dwindling of support from Trump's right-wing base), no major officials in Trump's administration have resigned as a result of his Charlottesville rant.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alt Right Donald Trump Jeff Flake Lindsey Graham Racism White Nationalism White Supremacism