As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s recent racially-charged attacks on the federal judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University have proven too much for two of the five Republican candidates running in Colorado’s U.S. Senate primary Ex-Democrat Jack “Nighthorse” Graham and Ryan Frazier.
Revel in their sound and fury:
Graham and Frazier, two of five GOP candidates vying for the right to run against Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in the November election, said they, for now, have withheld their support until Trump can show he deserves their backing.
“I found his statements about the judge to be ignorant, and it disturbed me,” Frazier said.
“I want different and I want better,” added Graham. “The things that he said earlier about women, about Mexicans and Muslims, the way he handled the David Duke question as well as the fact that there’s lot of public policy matters that he’s been unclear about.”
If this sounds a bit short of a full-throated condemnation of Trump, that’s because it is. Despite a perceived need by these candidates to put daylight between themselves and Trump’s controversies, neither Graham nor Frazier can bring themselves to unequivocally reject Trump’s candidacy for President. Trump’s litany of offensive statements on the campaign trail is bad enough to distance themselves from, but apparently not bad enough to make them to declare they won’t vote for Trump.
All five have made clear that none of them would ever support Clinton in the race.
The problem is that with no alternative to Trump that’s safe for a Republican primary candidate to publicly support, Graham, Frazier, or whoever wins this primary will have no choice but to come crawling back to Trump before November–and everybody knows it. With most of the Republican mainstream now working to “unify” the party for Trump for the general election, it will only become harder for the winner to keep their messages separate from Trump’s after the primary.
Blaha spokesman Joe Neville said his candidate’s support of Trump was an easy decision: It’s either him or Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“This makes Robert a Trump voter, not a Trump lawyer, so he’s not responding to every word and action from the nominee,” Neville said. “But since Trump and Clinton are the only two viable candidates for president, here is Robert’s challenge for those who are waiting for better from Trump: Or what? Will you step aside for a Hillary Clinton presidency?”
Until the primary, it’s anybody’s guess whether this move will boost or hurt Graham and Frazier. It’s our sense that the GOP grassroots as a whole is considerably more willing to accept Trump as the nominee than party insiders with a better understanding of the long-term consequences. In addition, Graham is already facing big problems with conservative voters due to his support for any number of Democratic policy planks–so ahead of the primary this could prove a real liability.
Even in this craziest of election years, you have to dance with the one that brung you.