When the president and his administration help Senate RINOs, they are helping senators who are sandbagging his campaign agenda.
The AP obtained a copy of an invitation to an event sponsored by President Trump’s campaign committee and the RNC to a joint fundraiser with Vice President Mike Pence and North Carolina’s junior senator, Thom Tillis, next week in Greensboro. Local media is reporting this as a signal of support from the White House for Tillis’ re-election.
Hasn’t the president learned his lesson of supporting RINOs only to have them bite him on every issue he campaigned on?
Senate Republicans are more liberal than ever before. Even if Republicans win back the House and Trump is re-elected, he will be no closer to passing any of his priorities on immigration, spending, or health care than he was during his first two years of trifecta control, because there are very few Republicans in the Senate who truly believe in his campaign promises.
Confirming conservative judges was one of the few unifying ideals of Senate Republicans, yet Mitt Romney voted against a well-qualified district judge nominee yesterday because he felt the nominee said mean things about Obama. But Trump endorsed Romney in the primary last year, thereby ending any attempt to challenge him.
This has been a broader point of frustration during Trump’s first term. He continuously endorses the very RINOs whom his party’s voters elected him to vanquish and then complains about the Senate undermining his campaign promises. Trump’s endorsement has the singular power to catapult struggling primary challengers into the lead against liberal Republican incumbents. At the very least, if Trump would remain neutral in the primaries, some challengers might have a fighting change, especially in North Carolina, where Tillis is now vulnerable to a challenge. But if Trump supports an incumbent, that is the kiss of death for any primary challenger.
Take a look at the Senate landscape this cycle. There are a number of open seats or incumbents in states where Trump won, often by large margins, in 2016.
Trump has the power to create for himself a more conservative Senate that will push for market-based health care, pass his budget proposals, back an America-first foreign policy, and codify his immigration priorities. Yet if he reflexively endorses incumbents and establishment picks, he is consigning his second term to complete doom.
Tillis has a 38% Liberty Score and is not a conservative on a single issue – social, fiscal, or national security. He has promoted amnesty from the day he set foot in the Senate. Tillis initially opposed Trump’s emergency declaration but changed course after he realized he’d face primary challengers.
At a time when House Democrats are trying to push back against Trump by codifying transgenderism into civil rights, Tillis is being honored by a “Republican” transgender group.
If you remember, Tillis refused to stand up for his former colleagues in the North Carolina legislature when they were combatting liberal cities that were allowing men into private female dressing rooms.
We are seeing the same thing with Lindsey Graham. Just because he is talking tough on Mueller and the FBI Hillary email scandal doesn’t mean he is suddenly a conservative on policy. Just because he is rhetorically cozying up to Trump doesn’t mean that the minute he is safe from a primary challenge, he will not give Trump hell on immigration and on his realist vision on foreign policy, especially since Graham is a shill for Qatar. Indeed, he is cozying up to Trump only for the purpose of avoiding a primary challenge. In fact, just yesterday, he had the nerve to say that “we need a conversation about the 11 million [illegal aliens already here]” at a time when his own policies have incentivized the current overwhelming flow.
The reality is that every Republican will come to Trump in a time of need. But they will not be there for him when he needs support in the Senate. Just the opposite: They will sandbag him with media virtue-signaling at every turn.
Every piece of leverage the president has is enmeshed in the budget process. Yet during every single budget battle since January 2017, McConnell and company have worked to give the Democrats everything they wanted on both spending and immigration. They are in the process of once again moving Trump to the Left on the disaster bill and on the budget caps and debt ceiling in September.
The president needs to think long and hard what his second term will look like if he continues supporting Republicans like Mitt Romney, Thom Tillis, and Lindsey Graham. But changing course in Senate electoral strategy will likely require a change in White House personnel.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.