Scathing Criticism of Trump Fails to Undermine Base Support

President Donald Trump has been subjected to some withering criticism since entering the political arena. But this week, that criticism was especially pointed because it came from senior members of Trump’s own party.

On Tuesday, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that the president was “utterly untruthful” and “debasing” the nation.

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Later that day, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) rose on the Senate floor to deliver an impassioned speech in which he called Trump’s behavior “dangerous to our democracy” and told fellow Republicans, “it is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”

Corker and Flake have both announced they will not seek re-election – calculating that their opposition to the president would likely cost them any chance of being successful in their respective Republican primaries.

Jennifer Nevins, a Trump delegate to the GOP convention from Kane County, thinks the criticisms are unlikely to impact the president’s core support.

“They certainly don’t erode his base. His base understands. We have no love for the media and we have no love for traditional establishment Republicans,” Nevins said. “I think the damage to Trump isn’t an erosion in his support, it’s more damage to his agenda and what he wants to get done.”

But she says she doesn’t believe Flake and Corker are outliers within the Republican Party.

“Unfortunately I think the Senate and the House are chock full of these kinds of people. The difference is who is going to come out and say it publicly,” she said. But she adds those who do publicly bash Trump are likely to face a reckoning.

“We know this because the only reason why Jeff Flake is leaving is because Kelli Ward (Flake’s Republican primary opponent) is going to clean his clock.”

Dan Proft, senior fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute and co-founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project – both of which advocate for free market policy solutions – thinks much of the criticism of Trump and the reporting of it is overblown.

“People have stylistic differences and policy differences – that happens in parties as a matter of course, so I don’t think it’s the disintegration of the Republican Party or anybody’s getting excommunicated or that tax reform won’t pass,” Proft said.

The question for the likes of Flake and Corker, says Proft, is whether they “are going to be so petty as to vote against something that they would otherwise support out of some personal vindictiveness?”

Proft says that those Republicans who disdain Trump need to recognize that most Republican voters are still with him.

“The problem that Corker and Flake and so much of the GOP establishment have, which gave rise to Trump, is what fights have they taken up? Where were they when rank-and-file conservatives, center-right people, ordinary Americans who voted for Trump – including a lot of Democrats – where were they when those people were being ridiculed culturally and hurt economically?”

Proft, Nevins and Pat Brady, former chairman of the Illinois Republican Party, join host Eddie Arruza to discuss the infighting within the GOP. 

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