I’m not going to deny the fact that Donald Trump is extremely popular with the Republican “base.” For millions of conservatives, he can do no wrong. Whether it’s belittling POWs, mocking reporters with disabilities, possibly colluding with Russia to undermine our democracy, bragging about sexually assaulting women, or even calling a Gold Star widow a liar, when Trump said his supporters were mindless sheep who’d support him no matter what he does — he was right.
That said, being really popular “among the base” will only get a politician so far.
For politicians to be successful in the long-term, they must be able to appeal to moderate voters and independents. Working up the base is great during a primary election, and might even be able to carry a candidate to an unexpected victory, but simply pandering to your most hardcore supporters isn’t an effective strategy for extended political success in most instances.
Though this isn’t a reality RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel seems to understand.
During an interview on Fox News, McDaniel pushed back on a tweet sent out by Donald Trump where the “president” said Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie lost because he didn’t embrace him enough.
Unfortunately, instead of McDaniel pointing out that Republicans needed to be more diverse, or that Trump’s become too toxic for many members of the party to embrace, she actually insisted that more candidates, even Democrats, should be “embracing the president.”
No, I’m not joking.
“Our base is for our President. The enthusiasm for the President is still strong. … Voters want to see candidates embrace the President,” McDaniel said. “If there’s a playbook for Democrats, they should work with the President. … I absolutely think any candidate should be embracing the President and I think Ed did.”
She also insisted — and, no, this is not a joke, either — that Governor-elect Ralph Northam won because he told voters that he’d be willing to work with Trump.
So, let’s run through this “logic,” shall we?
McDaniel is arguing that the Democrat, Northam, won because he “embraced the president” — yet also argued that Trump’s wrong when he said failed GOP candidate, Gillespie, didn’t embrace him enough.
That doesn’t make any sense.
If Trump’s influence mattered, at least in a positive way, then the candidate who ran a very Trump-like campaign, who this “president” actually endorsed, would have strolled to an easy victory as opposed to enduring a rather crushing defeat.
Obviously that’s not what happened.
McDaniel is right, the base’s enthusiasm for Trump is strong. Though as we just saw in Virginia, and even to a lesser extent in New Jersey, an enthusiastic base doesn’t do a whole heck of a lot of good if you’re alienating moderates and independents — while also energizing voters in the opposing party.
If this is the mindset Republicans are going to have going into the 2018 midterms, the next 12 months could turn out to be very painful for the GOP. Trump is almost certainly going to continue being who he’s been his entire life — an egomaniac who refuses to admit any faults, weaknesses or failures. If the RNC thinks “embracing this president” is the answer to its party’s woes heading into next year’s midterms, well, as a progressive, let me just say that’s great news for Democrats and all sensible Americans.
Watch McDaniel’s comments below via Fox News: