As Trump’s unpopularity increases, elected Republican officials are trying to edge away from him. This was hard to do during the primary races where the Trump fanatics have the most clout but once they got their party’s nomination they are trying to broaden their appeal. Apparently the party’s congressional leaders, including senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, worried about suffering major losses in November, have quietly told candidates that they can distance themselves from Trump if they feel the need.
Sen. Mitch McConnell is allowing Republican Senate candidates to do whatever it takes to salvage their campaigns ahead of what Republicans increasingly fear could be a devastating election for their party.
In recent weeks, the Senate majority leader has become so concerned over Republicans losing control of the Senate that he has signaled to vulnerable GOP senators in tough races that they could distance themselves from the President if they feel it is necessary, according to multiple senior Republicans including a source close to McConnell.
That could mean breaking with Trump on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the continued efforts by the President to paint an optimistic picture despite rising cases and deaths across parts of the country, especially in many Republican states in the South and Midwest.
While this may give some senators the flexibility to draw a distinction between themselves and the President, it also forces them to walk a tightrope. Trump remains enormously popular with the Republican base, and any attempts to undercut him risks alienating those voters.
The governor of Ohio Mike DeWine is a Republican. Unlike Trump, he has taken a science-based approach and acquitted himself creditably while in office in dealing with the pandemic. Even though he is not up for re-election, one suspects that he too might not want to be too closely identified with such an unpopular president so what happened this week was interesting.
The day before Donald Trump flew to Cleveland to attend a fundraiser and where he was supposed to be greeted by the governor on arrival, De Wine announced that he had tested positive for the virus and so would be quarantining himself and not meeting Trump. But the day after Trump left, DeWine said that he had been tested again and the test was negative.
Coincidence? You be the judge.
But even if this was a genuine case of reversal of test results, it might suggest to others a potential strategy to avoid Trump if he should come to their area. Most politicians like to be photographed with the president even when not from their own party. DeWine may have given ideas to other Republicans how to avoid being seen with Trump. He may be hearing “Sorry I can’t meet you. I’ve tested positive” a lot more soon.
Here are some other ways of how not to be seen.