Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff railed against congressional leaders in closed-door remarks to wealthy donors and called for a “purge” if GOP lawmakers don’t quickly rally behind President Donald Trump’s agenda.
In remarks at a Republican National Committee event at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington
on Tuesday morning, Nick Ayers also warned that Republicans are “on track to get shellacked” in next year’s midterm elections if GOP lawmakers don’t pass Trump’s legislative priorities.
But Ayers reserved his harshest criticism for congressional leaders and members who have not offered full-throated support for the president.
“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him? If — and this sounds crass — we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him,” Ayers said, according to an audio recording of the remarks obtained by POLITICO.
“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this,” Ayers responded. “But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, No. 1. And No. 2, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you.”
The comments also offer a stark departure in tone from Pence’s team, with the vice president having often served the role of soothing tensions between the White House and Capitol Hill. The remarks reveal both a deep frustration within the White House with congressional leadership and a political tactic of placing the onus on Congress to advance the agenda on health care, tax reform and other legislative priorities that have failed to gain momentum.
Ayers warned that the Republican Party is on track for a repeat of the massive electoral backlash that came after President Barack Obama was elected and the GOP took control of Congress and statehouses across the country.
“Not because anything that the president or the vice president has done or hasn’t done, but we’re on track to get shellacked next year,” Ayers said....Spare me, Nick Ayers. When it comes to the Trumpers, the President is never at fault. In fact, we have a President who has been floundering since his inauguration. Trump has not learned the first thing about the job he is supposed to be doing and has spent most of his time tweeting insults to try to settle personal scores than providing real leadership for the country. On his signature "repeal and replace" of Obamacare, Trump knew nothing about the details of the bill, undercut Republicans at every opportunity, and failed to use his office to advocate for the GOP legislation.
As far as not supporting the Trump agenda, exactly what is that agenda? After two years of campaigning and being President, Trump's tax plan consists of one page of bullet points. Like most issues, Trump was all over the map on health care, including at times sounding like Bernie Sanders, promising universal health care paid for by "the government." After eight months, Trump's agenda seems to be nothing more than a demand for personal loyalty and praise for his being a great leader....while being anything but a great leader. Fortunately, many Republicans, both in and out of Congress, refuse to part with their integrity and independence to kiss President Trump's ring.
Some prominent Republicans like George Will and Joe Scarborough chose to leave the Republican Party because of President Trump. While I understand their motivation, I think it is misguided. My parents were conservative Democrats. Becoming politically active in the early 1980s, I chose to become a Republican because I believe that party, with its conservative, limited government agenda, more closely matched my political views. Starting with Reagan in November 1980, my Republican Party over the next 35 years enjoyed a number of successes punctuated by occasional failure. Did we in the GOP fall show of our policy goals? Quite often. But does that mean we Republicans should hand the reigns of power to the Democrats and give up on those goals completely? Of course not. And it sure does not mean conceding the GOP brand to redesign by a life-long New York liberal.
Nick Ayers was born in 1981. I cast my first ever vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980. That vote was also cast more than three decades before Trump began pretending he was a Republican just 6 years ago.
My Republican Party is about lower taxes, limited government, being pro life and supporting traditional values. It is not about Trump and his ilk hating people because of their skin color, ethnicity or religion. It is about standing up for the Constitution and the ideals contained in that document. When our President denounces American traditions and values, things like freedom of press, religion or speech, that is not my Republican Party.
Trumpism is not about a political philosophy, and certainly not about being a conservative. It is about a cult of personality. Donald Trump could announce tomorrow that he is going to support the Pelosi-Schumer liberal agenda across the board, and the vast majority of Trumpers would convince themselves that "Mr. Trump" is doing the right thing, indeed something brilliant. After all, to most Trumpers the particular political agenda the President is pursuing is not important. What is important is blind adoration for all things Trump says or does. Just praise "Mr. Trump" and drink the Kool-Aid.
Even if it were worthy of support, the Trump GOP brand is doomed to failure. Trump's success depends on winning the support of a strong majority of white people. Yet, the collective skin hue of the country is steadily getting darker. Millennials, who overwhelmingly oppose Trump, will be a much bigger part of the electorate in 2020 than 2016. Any Republican candidate chaining himself to the Trump brand, will find that the President to be an anchor instead of a sail.
Ayers seems to be calling for a Republican civil war. Great. Bring it on. I, like many other Republicans, want my party back. And we will get it back. Make no mistake about it.