Offbeat Republicans Absorb New Lesson: Cross President Trump at Their Peril

08:10  14 june  2018
08:10  14 june  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

Three key races to watch in Tuesday's primaries -- results will shape fall battle for Congress

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But he loomed over both states, just as he has in nearly every nominating contest this year, underscoring how the Republican Party has become the party of Trump and that its politicians cross him at their peril .

That’s why President Trump promised legions of Midwest voters that he would revitalize the rural In truth, RINs — the tradeable credits used by refiners to meet their obligations — are free for any That’s why, outside of the D.C. swamp, business-oriented refiners like Tesoro are investing in new

a group of people sitting on a stage: Supporters cheered Corey Stewart. a local official who has made his name attacking illegal immigrants, after he won the Republican Senate primary in Virginia on Tuesday. © Tom Brenner/The New York Times Supporters cheered Corey Stewart. a local official who has made his name attacking illegal immigrants, after he won the Republican Senate primary in Virginia on Tuesday. WASHINGTON — President Trump wasn’t on the ballot or even stateside for Tuesday’s primary elections in Virginia and South Carolina. But he loomed over both states, just as he has in nearly every nominating contest this year, underscoring how the Republican Party has become the party of Trump and that its politicians cross him at their peril.

As Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina found out the hard way, in his surprise primary defeat, having a conservative voting record is less important than demonstrating total loyalty to Mr. Trump, who now enjoys higher approval ratings in his own party than any modern president except George W. Bush following the attacks of Sept. 11. And in Virginia, a far-right candidate, Corey Stewart, won the Republican Senate nomination after waging an incendiary campaign and portraying himself as a disciple of Mr. Trump.

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Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, is facing grave political peril in next year’s election.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times. His fate is an object lesson for other Republicans who might consider voicing dire thoughts about the president ’s fitness: Cross Mr. Trump , and your political

His fate is an object lesson for other Republicans who might consider voicing dire thoughts about the president ’s fitness: Cross Mr. Trump , and your political career could well be over. If the New York Times is praising you, you're doing it wrong.

The president’s transformation of the G.O.P. — its policies, its tone, even the fate of its candidates — has never been so evident. A party that once championed free trade has now largely turned to protectionism under Mr. Trump. Sermons about inclusivity have been replaced with demagogic attacks on immigrants and black athletes. A trust-but-verify approach to foreign policy has given way to a seat-of-the-pants style in which rogue regimes like North Korea are elevated and democratic allies like Canada are belittled.

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Mr. Trump’s harsh attacks, including describing the news media as “the country’s biggest enemy” Tuesday, draw muted responses or silence from most Republicans these days. The party’s lawmakers have seen what he can do to their campaigns, having witnessed how Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee saw their standing with conservative voters plummet after they tangled with him. Neither is seeking re-election.

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While Mr. Trump has been reshaping Republican identity for nearly two years — starting with his 2016 nomination victory and the hard-line tone and platform he laid out at that summer’s Republican convention — he has never had this much opportunity to wield power over the party as he does now, including over immigration legislation and tariffs in Congress.

“If you criticize him, you’re siding with the media that hates him and you’re undermining what he’s trying to accomplish,” said former Senator Rick Santorum, explaining why Mr. Trump has consolidated support. “Trump has done a good job in being a conservative president and as much as Democrats looked past what Bill Clinton said and did, Republicans are looking past what this president says and does.”

That means Republican lawmakers are going to be further bound to Mr. Trump in the midterm elections, less likely to raise doubts about his impulsive policymaking and, perhaps most consequential for a president facing scrutiny by a special counsel, more inclined to refrain from criticizing his personal conduct and use of executive power.

'It's Trump's party now' and Republicans could pay in November

  'It's Trump's party now' and Republicans could pay in November <p>U.S. Representative Mark Sanford is the latest Republican to learn a tough lesson - challenging President Donald Trump can be political suicide.</p>The South Carolina Republican congressman's upset loss on Tuesday to a primary opponent who questioned his commitment to Trump, along with a recent setback for Trump critic Martha Roby in Alabama and the Senate nomination of a controversial anti-establishment Trump supporter in Virginia, reinforced the degree to which loyalty to Trump has become a party litmus test.

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Their congressional majorities are in peril heading into the November midterm elections. At the time, the new president was an unfamiliar figure to most Republicans , who gave modest support to a campaign they assumed was doomed until Trump pulled off a dramatic upset.

“This will have a further chilling effect,” said Mr. Flake, adding, “If you want to do well in a primary, you’ve got to act accordingly.”

In addition to Mr. Flake, Mr. Trump has helped push Mr. Corker into retirement and played a part in Speaker Paul D. Ryan and 39 other House members leaving Congress, the most House Republicans not to seek re-election for at least 90 years.

Mr. Sanford had voted for much of Mr. Trump’s agenda, but repeatedly lamented what he called the “cult of personality” gripping the party. His opponent, State Representative Katie Arrington, used those critiques against him to great effect, casting the primary as a loyalty test and defeating Mr. Sanford by four percentage points.

A week earlier in Alabama, Representative Martha Roby, who withdrew her support from Mr. Trump in 2016 after the “Access Hollywood” video was released, faced fierce attacks for her disloyalty and will have to compete in a July runoff because she fell short of winning a majority in the primary.

Mr. Sanford’s loss also came on the same night that Mr. Stewart, a local Virginia official who has drawn attention for targeting immigrants and defending the Confederacy, claimed the Senate nomination in what was an unmistakable victory for the sort of racially tinged politics that Mr. Trump embraced in 2016.

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But that doesn’t mean their public criticism of a Republican president can be dismissed. Congressional Republicans should draw a line in the sand, they argue, and make clear that if Trump crosses it, his presidency could be in peril .

The president exulted over both races Wednesday, crowing about his last-minute help torpedoing Mr. Sanford, a reference to an 11th-hour tweet that called Mr. Sanford “nothing but trouble’’ and endorsed Ms. Arrington. And Mr. Trump argued that Mr. Stewart has “a major chance of winning” in a state that has not elected a statewide Republican in nearly a decade.

a group of people sitting at a table with wine glasses: Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, waited for election results at his primary night party in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., on Tuesday. © Hunter McRae for The New York Times Representative Mark Sanford, Republican of South Carolina, waited for election results at his primary night party in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., on Tuesday. It was fitting that such a momentous day of voting took place in Virginia, because it was there four years ago that Representative Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader, was upset in his primary. And just as Mr. Cantor’s stunning defeat all but extinguished any hope for a comprehensive immigration overhaul, the results Tuesday appear to have snuffed out any room for dissent among G.O.P. lawmakers who rely on the president’s supporters for votes.

In Congress, Senate Republicans will likely not challenge Mr. Trump over trade and tariffs, with leaders blocking a vote Mr. Corker is pushing to require congressional approval for tariffs implemented on national security grounds.

And on the immigration debate, House Republican leaders repelled an effort by moderate party members to force a vote on bipartisan measures to protect young immigrants because the president opposed them. Instead, the House will vote next week on two tougher measures that the White House is helping write to accommodate Mr. Trump.

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As Mnuchin sought to make the case once more to Trump , the president unexpectedly cut off the treasury secretary Other Republicans went public with their disdain, dubbing the agreement the Pelosi told a press conference afterwards that Schumer “could speak New York to the president ”.

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“We are in a strange place,” said Mr. Corker, who has alternately been one of Mr. Trump’s closest allies and loudest critics. Referring to Republican fealty to Mr. Trump, he added, “It’s becoming a cultish thing.”

To Mr. Trump’s supporters, though, the fealty to Mr. Trump simply reflects the devotion he now enjoys from the party’s grass roots.

“His base is loyal and support is strong, giving him the leverage to move votes — at the ballot box and the legislative chamber,” said Brian O. Walsh, who runs the president’s main super PAC. “There’s room for negotiation, but obstruction will end careers.”

Yet what alarms Republicans eyeing a House map in which the most competitive races are in suburban districts that reject Trump-style politics, is that Tuesday’s results will induce more candidates to hew closely to the president to avoid angering the party base. Doing so now may be imperative to ensure a robust turnout and retain a stable of volunteers — but it also could risk driving away independent voters who are deeply contemptuous of Mr. Trump.

“There is writing on the wall when it comes to races like Sanford’s, but each district is also different,” said Representative Tom Rooney of Florida, a Republican who is also retiring. “It might not be a good thing to cross the president in South Carolina, but outside Philadelphia, it might not matter.”

The danger in adopting Mr. Trump’s incendiary approach was on vivid display Wednesday, when Senate Republicans refused to embrace Mr. Stewart and the party braced for the havoc he could wreak in some of the heavily suburban Virginia districts where they are defending incumbents.

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President -elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive at a pre-Inaugural "Make America Trump has yet to absorb the lesson that in the world of presidential communications, less is more Rather than glibly promise that Republicans will quickly repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act

And their list of objections is long, including Trump 's plans for new border taxes to incentivize American production, his recent ban on Related. politics Lessons for 2018 From One of America’s Most Tumultuous Years. Put another way: Stand with Trump at your own peril , Republicans .

“The national narrative on the Virginia Senate race is that Corey is associated with extreme nativist views,” said Marty Nohe who serves on the Prince William County Board of Supervisors with Mr. Stewart. He added, “The job of those Republican nominees just got harder.”

David Ramadan, a former state lawmaker, said Representative Barbara Comstock of Northern Virginia could encounter the most difficultly fending off questions about Mr. Stewart, who will face Senator Tim Kaine this November. Ms. Comstock is already facing difficulty on her right flank. On Tuesday, her hard-line challenger, who embraced Mr. Trump, won over 39 percent of the vote.

The chairman of his board, Mr. Stewart has praised white nationalists and made racially inflammatory comments about intraparty rivals. Earlier this year, he stood outside the state capitol assailing Republican legislators for being “flaccid,” adding, “I feel sorry for their wives.”

Virginia Republicans, who have not won a statewide race in nearly a decade, give Mr. Stewart little chance of success, but some worry that becoming the Trump party carries long-term political risks. The fear: Moderate voters will either become Democrats or register as independents and cast their ballots for Democrats, denying Republicans the sort of middle-of-the-road voter they need to win in a state with an educated and diverse electorate.

“The Grand Old Party under Trump is no more,” said Mr. Ramadan, bemoaning the Republican reorientation.

“What principles are we operating on today?” he asked. “Free trade? Family values when we’re taking children from their parents? No taxes when we are putting up tariffs? What are the principles of the Republican Party today? Whatever Trump wants to do when he gets up.”

Poll: Majority of Republicans back family separation policy .
A majority of Republicans support the Trump administration's policy of separating migrant children from their parents when they are caught illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, a Quinnipiac University poll found. Republican voters support the policy 55 to 35 percent, according to the poll released on Monday. They are the only listed party, gender, education, age or racial group to support the policy, according to Quinnipiac.Sixty-six percent of American voters oppose the policy, according to the poll.

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