If you want to know how much trouble the Republican Party is facing in 2018, take a look at the fact that it’s in real danger of losing the special election in a deeply red district in Pennsylvania. If you want to know how desperate the Republican candidate Rick Saccone has become, he’s now enlisting the help of the toxically unpopular Donald Trump, a tactic which tends to backfire. Trump is already making a mess of it.
It wasn’t enough that when Trump showed up to campaign for Saccone yesterday, he spent essentially no time talking about Saccone, and instead used his incoherent speech to curse at Chuck Todd and say racist things about Maxine Waters. Trump’s base loves this kind of thing, but as we’ve seen in recent special elections, it tends to do more harm than good when it comes to actual voting. Now Trump has opened his mouth privately and made things even worse for Saccone.
Trump has been telling everyone around him that he thinks Rick Saccone is a “weak” and “terrible” candidate, according to a new Axios report (link). Trump isn’t the only one in the Republican Party who feels this way about Saccone. The trouble is, Trump is too reckless or clueless to understand that when the (supposed) President of the United States says these kinds of things in private, they tend to rather quickly leak out publicly.
So now, if the mainstream media does its job correctly, the Republican candidate Rick Saccone will spend the rest of the election facing questions about his own party’s president having called him a terrible candidate. This also hands the Democratic candidate Conor Lamb a fantastic talking point. All he has to do is keep pointing out that Donald Trump thinks Saccone is terrible, and it may make Trump’s faltering base even less likely to show up and vote.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report