Donald Trump’s campaign is on fire.
Not in the Stephen Curry “watch me sink 10 straight long-range jumpshots” sense. More like the “raging dumpster fire behind an abandoned Wal-Mart in the middle of nowhere” sense.
So far this week, he has fought the parents of a Muslim-American war hero, suggested women facing sexual harassment should just find another job, doubled down on appeasing Russia in Crimea, and refused to endorse House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. John McCain. For extra credit, he kicked a crying baby out of his rally.
New polls put him well behind Hillary Clinton. A few notable Republicans now say they’ll vote for her. Among them: Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, a GOP billionaire who helped lead fundraising for Mitt Romney’s 2008 campaign. Vin Weber, a former GOP congressman and Ryan ally, called Trump’s nomination “a mistake of historic proportions.”
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There’s talk of GOP leaders abandoning him en masse if his political fortunes keep plunging.
As everyone but Trump seems to know, he needs to stop lashing out at every perceived slight. He must at least pretend to be presidential and serious-minded. But it looks increasingly doubtful that he can.
Frustration with the erratic, constantly off-message billionaire is rising among campaign staffers, numerous news reports said Wednesday. CNBC’s John Harwood tweeted that a longtime ally of campaign manager Paul Manafort’s told him Manafort is “not challenging Trump anymore. Mailing it in. Staff suicidal.”
But even if Trump and his campaign can’t figure it out, there is a way the GOP could still mount a competitive fall campaign.
All it takes is for Donald Trump to drop out.
It’s hard to imagine him doing so, but consider that he has been whining in recent days that the general election looks to be “rigged” against him. So, GOP insiders are preparing for the possibility he’ll bow out, ABC News is reporting. If he did, the 168 members of the Republican National Committee would pick his replacement, with members generally casting the same number of votes that their state cast at the convention.
They still have about a month to get a more capable general election candidate on enough state ballots. Think Romney or perhaps Paul Ryan.
Sure, Trump fans might stay home Nov. 8. Then again, swing voters scared off by Trump’s volatile personality might replace them.
Trump tweeted Wednesday that there’s “great unity” in his camp. Who knows, Julian Assange and Wikileaks could save him with an “October Surprise” of hacked Democratic Party emails damaging to Clinton.
Admittedly, the chances of Trump dropping out are slim. But if he doesn’t, we’re talking about possibly putting nuclear launch codes in the hands of a man who is showing the impulse control of a 3-year-old. More top Republicans need to join Whitman. Summon some backbone.
Disavow him now.