Several Republican candidates are trying to publicly distance themselves from Donald Trump ahead of the midterm election just as President Biden is beginning to sharpen his attacks against the former president and his MAGA cult.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Senate nominee Mehmet Oz has scrubbed aspects of Trump’s presence from their Twitter accounts.
In Arizona, Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh and Senate nominee Blake Masters have done the same despite being endorsed by Trump.
Masters even removed language from his campaign website asserting that if the 2020 presidential election had been “free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today and America would be so much better off.”
However, Trump-endorsed candidates are facing a conundrum.
GOP strategies say Republican nominees may need to walk a tightrope as they could put themselves at risk of drawing the ire of the former president and lose a crucial voting bloc.
“Look, you run the campaign you need to run in order to win,” one former Trump campaign aide said. “I think what’s so dangerous about that though is that a lot of these candidates still need to square that with the fact that they won their primaries in the first place because of [Trump]. He’s still the most popular person in the party and the base is still going to matter in the general.”
“I don’t think he’s going to bail on anyone and un-endorse them or anything. But he will take notice. If you’re someone who’s, you know, taking his endorsement, his priorities, off your campaign website or whatever, he’s going to notice that.”
But Keith Naughton, a veteran Republican strategist, said that the risk could be worth the reward. While Trump remains deeply popular among the GOP’s most conservative voters, he could prove to be a liability for GOP candidates, especially in states that Trump lost in the 2020 presidential election.
“They have to do what they have to do to win. They have to take those chances,” Naughton said, according to The Hill “And I think it does help. The less they talk about him, the better.”
Democratic strategist Brad Bannon said he thinks some Republicans are distancing themselves from Trump because “Trump becomes more of a liability every day,” noting the recent controversy following the FBI’s search at Mar-a-Lago.
“I think Trump is on the roller coaster to hell right now. And I think you’re going to see more and more Republicans distance themselves as these legal problems and the espionage charges and classified documents become more prominent, and they will,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a sign of the changing political landscape, Democratic nominees in the key swing states are planning to appear with Biden in the upcoming weeks as the president’s approval numbers continue to improve.