The Associated Press reports:
WASHINGTON — Vulnerable Republicans are increasingly taking careful, but clear, steps to distance themselves from President Donald Trump, one sign of a new wave of GOP anxiety that the president’s crisis-to-crisis reelection bid could bring down Senate candidates across the country.
In key races from Arizona to Texas, Kansas and Maine, Republican senators long afraid of the president’s power to strike back at his critics are starting to break with the president — particularly over his handling of the pandemic — in the final stretch of the election. GOP strategists say the distancing reflects a startling erosion of support over a brutal 10-day stretch for Trump, starting with his debate performance through his hospitalization with COVID-19 and attempts to downplay the virus’ danger.
Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ)
Even the somewhat subtle moves away from Mr. Trump are notable. For years, Republican lawmakers have been loath to criticize the president — and have gone to great lengths to dodge questions — fearful of angering Trump supporters they need to win. But with control of the Senate in the balance, GOP lawmakers appear to be shifting quickly to do what’s necessary to save their seats.
Republican prospects for holding its 53-47 majority have been darkening for months. But recent upheaval at the White House has accelerated the trend, according to conversations with a half-dozen GOP strategists and campaign advisers, some of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose internal deliberations.
The strategists noted the decision to rush to fill the Supreme Court vacancy with conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett has not swung voters toward the GOP as hoped. Several noted internal polls suggested Republican-leaning, undecided voters were particularly turned off by the president’s debate performance and his conduct since being diagnosed with the coronavirus. It wasn’t clear that these voters would cast a ballot for Democrat Joe Biden, but they might stay home out of what one strategist described as a feeling of Trump fatigue.
Voters like to think their Senators are putting their constituents first. But instead those Republican Senators put Donald Trump first, even when doing so meant condoning Trump's blatant abuses of power, his insistence that he's above the law, the racism, the sexism, his efforts to get foreign governments to help him win the 2016 and 2020 elections, and his use of his office to enrich himself. Always. Those Senators looked at Trump's contemptible conduct and words, and gave him a pass. Always. Even when Trump took policy positions that were anything but conservative - huge budget deficits, trade tariffs, a concentration of power in the executive, a rejection of federalism, a contempt for constitutional checks and balances, and a refusal to support allies while praising dictators who oppress human rights - the answer from Republican Senators was to give Trump a pass. Always.
It would not only would have been nice for those Republican Senators to do their job of providing oversight and checking President Trump's power, it quite literally is their constitutional responsibility to do so. They could have held President Trump accountable and made him a much better President. But when push came to shove, the choice of those Republican Senators was to acquiesce, to go along, to do nothing. Always.
Now, that several Republican Senators are facing the prospect of being punished by voters for not doing their jobs these past four years( e.g. Collins, McSally, Gardner, Tillis, Graham, Ernst, Daines), they have decided it is time to do the right thing and, finally, show some independence from President Trump. Too late. Every one of those Republican Senators who sold out voters and conservative principles to enable Donald Trump deserve to lose their re-election bids.
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