Several prominent Trump antagonists are actively urging other Republicans to take on the president, and a popular governor, Larry Hogan of Maryland, has indicated he is newly open to their entreaties.
.. Privately, some of Mr. Trump’s 2016 aides have said they are pessimistic about his path to 270 electoral votes after his party’s midterm defeats in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. An Associated Press poll on Wednesday showed that Mr. Trump’s overall approval rating had fallen to 34 percent, with his support among Republicans dipping below 80 percent — a startling turn for a president who strives for total control of the G.O.P., and has usually achieved it.
..An Associated Press poll on Wednesday showed that Mr. Trump’s overall approval rating had fallen to 34 percent, with his support among Republicans dipping below 80 percent — a startling turn for a president who strives for total control of the G.O.P., and has usually achieved it.
.. The Mueller investigation looms as another destabilizing force for the president. David Kochel, a Republican strategist based in Iowa who is opposed to Mr. Trump, said the special counsel’s eventual report could determine whether Mr. Trump is vulnerable in a primary.
“That will be a focusing mechanism for the party,” Mr. Kochel said.
.. Mr. Trump captured the presidency with a largely improvisational candidacy, guided by his own instincts for personal combat and cultural division, and lacking the strategic discipline of most presidential campaigns.
.. But even among his own political lieutenants, there is a general recognition that Mr. Trump currently lacks anything resembling a positive message.
.. Mr. Trump is especially fixated on two well-known Democrats, speaking frequently about Joseph R. Biden Jr., the former vice president whom Mr. Trump regards as his most dangerous potential opponent, and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Some of his advisers are more preoccupied with two other would-be challengers, who would offer a starker generational contrast with the 72-year-old president: Senator Kamala Harris of California and Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas Senate candidate.
.. Now a top aide on Mr. Trump’s campaign, Mr. Stepien and his deputies have been consulting party leaders about shutting off avenues to a challenge and ensuring that states cannot put forward “favorite son” candidates to contest the president’s renomination.
.. Mr. Trump has also dedicated a team of aides to guaranteeing that only political loyalists are elected to serve as delegates to the convention. To that end, Mr. Stepien dispatched some of his staff members this month to see that their preferred candidate remained in charge of the Maine Republican Party.
..Mr. Hogan spoke briefly with William Kristol, an implacable Trump critic in the conservative press, who argued that the president is weaker than widely understood
.. In addition to Mr. Hogan, William F. Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, is weighing a challenge to Mr. Trump as a small-government moderate, people who have spoken with him said. Mr. Weld, 73, who was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 2016, has discussed either opposing Mr. Trump in the Republican primaries or seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination.
.. Other Republicans known to be entertaining campaigns against Mr. Trump include John R. Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, who ran in 2016; Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska; and Jeff Flake, the former senator from Arizona. But Mr. Sasse is said to have grown uneasy about the idea, and Mr. Kasich and Mr. Flake are pursuing opportunities in television.
.. Bruce Berke, a Republican strategist in New Hampshire aligned with Mr. Kasich, said he currently saw Mr. Trump as unassailable in a G.O.P. primary.
“A primary challenge in 2020, as of today, would be futile for anyone,” Mr. Berke said.
Still, Republican donors will want to know just how damaged the president may be by the end of this year before they truly commit to a challenge.
But just because Trump seems dominant today doesn’t mean that anti-Trump principles — family values, for instance, or suspicion toward Russia, or deficit reduction, or simple decorum — can’t find an audience in a 2020 primary.
.. Most Republicans like the state of Trump’s GOP just fine; there is no groundswell for a #NeverTrump-er to rescue the party. In the most recent CNN/SSRS poll, the president’s approval rating among Republicans was 86 percent.
.. The GOP may or may not face danger at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020, but it is doomed in the long run if no Republican stands for the principles that the party has for so long said it defends: governmental restraint and individual liberty.
.. since 1968, serious primary challengers to incumbent presidents have been one of the more effective vehicles to push a party to change its ideas, rethink its core constituencies and remake its platform.
.. Eugene McCarthy, Ronald Reagan, Edward Kennedy and Pat Buchanan helped sink the incumbent’s reelection chances and alter their parties’ direction over the long term.
.. Reagan’s spirited 1976 challenge to President Gerald Ford pivoted the GOP toward the former California governor’s anti-big-government, hawkish views.
.. Kennedy ran on the idea that Carter had abandoned Democratic principles of using government to lessen income inequality and fight for the underdog. “It’s time to have a real Democrat in the White House again,” he declared in 1979.
.. By defeating Carter in New York and Connecticut, Kennedy shifted the party template to one that fit with Northeastern liberalism and further weakened the Democrats in the South.
.. In the long run, Kennedy’s campaign cemented Democrats as the party of traditionally disenfranchised minorities, helped give it an electoral advantage among women and sought (with mixed success) to put economic inequality at the center of its platform.
.. Buchanan used his 1992 race against President George H.W. Bush to keep an alternate tradition alive within the GOP. Buchanan’s bid, in retrospect, was a marker on the road to Trumpism.
.. should someone like Kasich mount a third-party bid, he could split the anti-Trump general-election vote and hand Trump another term.
.. Not only did Trump put out a lengthy statement on Thursday bashing Steve Bannon, his former senior adviser, for coöperating with Wolff on his “phoney” book, his lawyers sent a letter to the publisher, Henry Holt, demanding that it halt publication. From that moment on, every self-respecting Trump hater in the country simply had to buy a copy.
.. a separate denunciation of Bannon from his longtime financial sponsor, the hedge-fund heiress Rebekah Mercer, who is a part-owner of Breitbart, the scrappy Web site that Bannon turned into a platform for Trump and the alt-right. “My family and I have not communicated with Steve Bannon in many months and have provided no financial support to his political agenda, nor do we support his recent actions and statements,” Mercer said
.. “Bannon is resisting. He’s quite like Trump in this respect: he views any apology or admission of error as a sign of weakness.”
.. Trump thought the Mercers were as odd as everybody else thought. He didn’t like Bob Mercer looking at him and not saying a word; he didn’t like being in the same room as Mercer or his daughter. These were super-strange bedfellows—‘wackos’ in his description.”
.. not the demise of his ambitions to transform the G.O.P. into a nationalist/protectionist party modelled on the European right but the opening of a new front. Freed from the constraints of being inside the Administration, Bannon would be able to recruit candidates, raise money, and take down members of the Republican establishment.
.. Trump, in Bannon’s view, was a chapter, or even a detour, in the Trump revolution, which had always been about weaknesses in the two major parties
.. Trump was just the beginning.”
“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency,” Mr. Trump said in the statement. “When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”
Mr. Trump berated Mr. Bannon for the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama and said the former adviser did not represent his base but was “only in it for himself.” Rather than supporting the president’s agenda to “make America great again,” Mr. Bannon was “simply seeking to burn it all down,” Mr. Trump said.
.. “Steve pretends to be at war with the media, which he calls the opposition party, yet he spent his time at the White House leaking false information to the media to make himself seem far more important than he was,” he added. “It is the only thing he does well.
.. Mr. Bannon had said he planned to back a slew of candidates in Republican primaries this year to take down establishment incumbents he saw as insufficiently conservative, even if it clashed with Mr. Trump’s endorsements.
That did not seem to bother Mr. Trump and indeed struck many as a way for the president to keep Mr. Bannon as an outside hammer pressuring Republican lawmakers to stay in line.
.. But accusing the president’s eldest son of treason crossed the line, even for an inner circle of aides who regularly fought and privately disparaged each other.
.. The book presents Mr. Trump as an ill-informed and thoroughly unserious candidate and president, engaged mainly in satisfying his own ego. It reports that early in the campaign, one aide, Sam Nunberg, was sent to explain the Constitution to the candidate. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment,” it quoted Mr. Nunberg as saying, “before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head.”
.. According to the book, neither Mr. Trump nor his wife, Melania Trump, nor many of his aides actually expected to win the election in November 2016 and indeed did not really want to.
.. It describes a distraught Mrs. Trump as being in tears on election night, not out of joy, and said the new president and first lady were fighting on Inauguration Day.
It seems like the wheels are falling of the bus that is the Trump presidency. It is also interesting to note that anyone who leaves his administration and causes Trump to get negative coverage, was only a minor player.
Bannon – Minor player with a role that required the highest level of security clearance
Papadopoulous – Minor unpaid player who somehow managed to get photographed in a meeting with Trump
Flynn – Minor player with the administration a short time
Manafort – Minor Manager of his whole campaign.
I wonder who the major players are? Will Kushner be a minor player if/when he leaves?
Poetic justice for both Trump and Bannon.
Trump wanted the counsel and company of an anarchist – well, no surprise, he got endless chaos.
Bannon wanted a loose cannon in our highest office – well, now it was turned on him.
Notice how Trump never refutes anything Bannon says; instead he just ridicules and attempts to minimize the man he previously clearly embraced as his closest advisor. Notice also that all of Trump’s other closest advisors and spokespersons, except his family members, are now gone and have been excommunicated (Manafort, Flynn, Priebus), and in every case Trump has tried, unsuccessfully, to distance himself from them as if they never had anything to do with his campaign. See a pattern?