White House, lowering expectations for midterms, points fingers at everyone but Trump
Just a week out from the midterms, White House aides are acknowledging that the GOP’s prospects for keeping the House are “challenging.” But in classic Trumpian fashion, they’re offering a host of reasons for why any election setbacks for Republicans won’t be the fault of the very man who has embraced making the midterms all about himself.
Politico reports that a memo from White House political director Bill Stepien noted the GOP’s “goal this year is to minimize their losses” and then went on to pin the blame for any fallout on a series of circumstances entirely unrelated to Trump. Midterms are historically bad for the party in power, Stepien noted. Also, an unprecedented number of House Republican retirements along with eye-popping Democratic fundraising has handicapped the House effort, he argued, as if those last two factors were entirely unrelated to Trump.
Meanwhile, Trump has injected himself into the midterms with gusto. In early October, he declared “I am on the ticket,” and at numerous rallies he’s told the crowd, “A vote for X, is a vote for me,” plugging in the name of whichever GOP candidate stood beside him on stage. Trump is also planning an aggressive last-minute campaign push involving multiple rallies in critical swing states.
In the Senate, however, where GOP chances of retaining power are much rosier, Stepien argued that Trump should get the lion’s share of the credit.
“The 2018 Senate map is only (potentially) favorable because of the way President Trump rewrote it in 2016,” Stepien wrote.
Except, of course, nearly every state where Republicans stand to make gains is a solidly red state with an improbable Democratic incumbent. However Trump supposedly “rewrote” the political map in 2016 hasn’t held for 2018. If it had, Republicans would have prime pickup opportunities in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and they don’t.
Nonetheless, this is another installment in the annals of “the buck never stops with Trump unless it’s something for which he can claim credit.”