WASHINGTON — It’s been discussed at several points this year, but now may be the time to call it: The Republican Party’s internal war over Donald Trump may have reached its zenith.
Any semblance of party unity seemingly shattered Monday after Speaker Paul Ryan told House Republicans he planned to spend the remainder of the election season defending his party’s majority in Congress rather than helping Trump.
The Republican nominee, meanwhile, was quick to fire back on Twitter as the fallout continued about his comments in a 2005 hot mic video in which he bragged about sexual assault:
Trump’s confidantes backed him up, tweeting about voters who planned to back the nominee but not other GOP candidates down-ballot.
Former Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich bypassed Ryan entirely in a Facebook Live video. He instead directly addressed rank-and-file GOP lawmakers who were beginning to fret under the pressure to potentially abandon Trump:
“Relax and slow down for a minute. If you can communicate to your voters that Hillary Clinton is totally unacceptable and why she’s totally unacceptable, you don’t have to run around and defend Donald Trump. That’s Donald Trump’s job. But you also don’t have to abandon him, because there is no alternative at a practical level. He is the nominee. And the choice is going to come down to two people: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”
Most of those rank-and-file lawmakers from Georgia continued to keep their silence on Monday even as many more senior Republicans in the state came out against Trump’s statements. With Congress out of session until after the election, it’s likely they’re looking to lay low until after their own fates are sealed at the ballot box.
Updated at 11:35 a.m.: The office of U.S. Rep. Tom Price, who will be Georgia’s most senior House Republican should he win reelection, sent along its first statement since the Trump video surfaced.
In it, the Roswell congressman does not address the nominee’s gaudy statements about women. He instead underscores why he’s sticking with Trump in November:
“On November 8th, the American people will be choosing more than a president. They will be choosing whether we have a leftist majority on the Supreme Court for a generation to come; whether we get four more years of weak, failing, misguided foreign policy, dismal economic growth, and regulatory oppression in health care, energy, education or wherever a Clinton Administration would choose to impose its will.
On the other hand, we can move forward in a new direction with a Trump/Pence Administration focused on strengthening America at home and abroad, growing jobs, wages and the broader economy, and getting government out of the way so individuals, families, and small businesses will have more opportunity. That’s the change and choice the American people have before them. Their enormous power will decide the future of our nation.”