Georgia Republicans wrestle with the ‘ifs’ of Trump’s candidacy

Ginny Ehrhart poses for a selfie with a life-size, cardboard cutout of Trump during the Georgia Republican Party State Convention in Augusta, June 3. (Michael Holahan / The Augusta Chronicle)

Ginny Ehrhart poses for a selfie with a life-size, cardboard cutout of Trump during the Georgia GOP Convention in Augusta, June 3. (Michael Holahan / The Augusta Chronicle)

The central question of the 2016 campaign wafted through the halls of the Georgia GOP Convention last weekend as distinctly as the conditioned air pumped out of ducts and vents: Is it more important to think like a Republican or to vote like one?

There’s no doing both this year, not with Donald Trump atop the ticket. The man has donated to Democrats, praised single-payer health care and Clinton-era gun control, advocated higher taxes on the middle class in the form of tariffs to pursue trade “fairness,” shown disregard for property rights (through an expansive notion of eminent domain) and the First Amendment (through a limited notion of freedom of the press) — and that’s the short list. He flies the Republican standard as a flag of convenience.

Still, every other candidate to carry the party’s banner lost. A month after the field cleared for Trump, the Georgia Republicans assembled in Augusta still seemed at pains to reconcile themselves to the fact.

Not all of them, of course. There was plenty of Trump enthusiasm to be found among the delegates and in the vendor area, complete with the bust of The Donald from Trump’s Georgia HQ.

But others, including many of those Republicans prominent enough to get a speaking slot on stage, were more circumspect. Some of them simply referred to backing “the nominee.” Many opted for elision, playing up the problems wrought by the Obama presidency and the potential for worse from Hillary Clinton in lieu of forceful arguments for Trump himself. This appears to be the template for “rally ’round the flag” speeches from now till November.

Even one of Trump’s most vocal supporters within the Georgia GOP establishment, Sen. David Perdue, who paired a red “Make America Great Again” hat with his own “outsider” label jean jacket, sounded less than fully sold on Trump as Trump.

“I don’t know if he’s conservative or not,” Perdue told a group of Young Republicans, “but I know he’s more conservative than Hillary Clinton.”

And: “I’ll have more input with him than I will with Hillary Clinton. Think about the alternative. Think about trying to have that conversation with Hillary Clinton.”

And: “If Donald Trump’s not conservative enough for you, fine, get over it. He’s more conservative than Hillary Clinton.”

After all, he flies the flag. Right?

The most popular refrain was the need to keep Clinton from appointing justices to the Supreme Court. There was near-universal agreement on this, and only slightly less agreement that Trump would be better on this score. Four years of Trump would have to be worth the decades of more favorable jurisprudence flowing from two, three, maybe four new justices, right? If, some folks cautioned, he actually sticks to the list of potential appointees his campaign floated. If …

“If” featured in a lot of conversations. If Trump’s elected, maybe he’ll work with policy-minded congressmen like Speaker Paul Ryan and Georgia’s Tom Price (who gave one of the more full-throated endorsements of Trump from the stage). If Trump loses, maybe he won’t have done too much damage to the GOP brand along the way for the faithful to recover. If Hillary were to be elected, it would surely be worse.

And: If Trump can’t find some discipline, then as George W. Bush once reportedly said, this sucker could go down.

That last one hung out there like vapor in the thick Augusta air. Well before most delegates arrived, Trump attacked the judge in (two of) his Trump University civil fraud trials as having an “inherent conflict of interest” because he is “of Mexican heritage” and Trump advocates “building a wall” on the southern border. It already had the look of a potential embarrassment for the party — and Trump, if he’s capable of feeling embarrassed. That was before Trump this week ordered surrogates to attack critics of his remarks as racists themselves, leading such prominent Republicans as U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin to walk back earlier support of Trump.

Talk of a a floor fight at the national convention in Cleveland is, at this point, fanciful. Georgia Republicans fought off a challenge to the preferred slate of national delegates from a faction of Ted Cruz loyalists. It would take a lot more than comments about a judge to upend the results of months of voting and caucusing.

But if Trump continues along the same trajectory, it’s easy to see a number of Republicans, in Georgia and elsewhere, deciding they’d rather abstain in November than just vote like Republicans.

If? Sorry, I meant “when.”

Reader Comments 0

99 comments
JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The 9th circus ruling on concealed carry in California is the perfect example of what you get with Liberal Judges.

The 2nd states to "bear" arms.

That's about as clear as it gets, yet the 9th nuts issued a ruling that a sheriff has the right to withhold concealed carry permits based on his judgment of the person really needing one.

Another bullet in the Trump arsenal.

And a clear message that if Hillary follows Obama in the White House the Left will do every end-around they can think of to take your guns.

For you Libs who can't understand implication, "take your guns" does not mean to literally remove them from your possession.

Stable mentalities know the objective is to neuter gun ownership.  

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@JohnnyReb  The usual assertion is that banning firearms possession is in the interest of "public safety".

However it's no coincidence that the people who favor redistribution of wealth from makers to takers are the same ones who want to disarm the makers.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

The judge's ancestors came to this country before Trump's ancestors.

BreakingFakeNews
BreakingFakeNews

GOP, If you stand too close to the Trumph paper cut-out for pics then you deserve the paper cuts.

lvg
lvg

Perdue would love to see another Scalia or Thomas on the Court issuing activist political judgments and perversions of the Constitution. Maybe even get some rulings to help his fellow 1%rs. Perdue is a racist boob just like Trump. Just ask Judge Dax Lopez.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

If you value your freedoms, a conservative justice is the way to go.

If you want the First Amendment rewritten to give politicians the power to control political speech (aka "overturning Citizens United"), or you want the Second, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments ignored, a leftist is your guy. If you prefer government power over individual liberty, go for the leftists.

Real Americans value all our freedoms; let's hope we can stave off the Democrats who don't.

goat diddler
goat diddler

My favorite Drumpf policy announcement is the one where he proposed to use the power of the office of the POTUS to force the PGA to hold their tournaments at Drumpf golf courses...

There's some freedom for you...

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@foo2u

If you're expecting me to defend Trump, you haven't been paying attention here at Kyle's.

DerekGator
DerekGator

Kyle, we all know that you hate Trump but don't you realize that it was the stale old, do nothing, status quo Republicans that paved the way for his rise?


The Republican party has been dead for a long time, any of the other fools running would get slaughtered against HC, Trmp might but he is the only one with a fighting chance.  If you don't like the new Trump Republican party, you have 4 years to come up with something radically different, going back to the McCain, Romney style GOP would be like going back to black and white TV. 

DerekGator
DerekGator

@Lil_Barry_Bailout :  Obama has been the worst president for African Americans, I don't get how come they are so blind? 

lvg
lvg

@DerekGator A party based on hate, bigotry, confrontation and rejection of everything the President does for eight years is a bankrupt party being cannibalized like a bankrupt corporation by the top cannibal in the GOP lineup who is only looking out for what's in it for him (a GOP  code of ethics).

TheCentrist
TheCentrist

@DerekGator @Lil_Barry_Bailout Actually, the worst president for African Americans was James Buchanan.  The second worst was Andrew Johnson.


As for blindness, the worst president for Americans was Calvin Coolidge, followed by George W. Bush.  

bu22
bu22

@TheCentrist @DerekGator @Lil_Barry_Bailout Agree on Buchanan.  Andrew Johnson had the right ideas but got neutered by the Radicals.  Obama probably hasn't been as much as a disaster as Carter, who was the worst since Buchanan.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Trump should be president because he has "a very good brain". 


Hillary's gray matter must pale in comparison as she has so far not labeled even her cerebral cortex on the bad, good, very good, brain self rating scale.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Well, Barry has endorsed Hillary.

The blind leading the blind.

The biggest problem with Obama's endorsement is, he's the sitting president endorsing a person under FBI investigation.

Indictment or not, the endorsement should have waited for the investigation to play out.

It's more corruption from the Obama administration and him personally, but Libbies of course won't see it that way. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@MarkVV @JohnnyReb guilt has nothing to do with it.

I realize that with 70% of Dems pollling that Hillary should continue to campaign even if indicted that it is difficult for Libs to see and understand that a president does not endorse candidates under criminal investigation.

And make no mistake, the current FBI investigation of Hillary is a criminal investigation.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@JohnnyReb @MarkVV  "guilt has nothing to do with it."
That says it all. People like JohnnyReb  could not care less if someone is guilty or innocent of anything criminal, as long as they can insinuate for political reasons  that that person must be guilty if he/she is being investigated.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@JohnnyReb

"Investigating" a political ally and your preferred successor, while also working to get her elected.  That's not at all like a banana republic <rolls eyes>.

That's today's Democrat party.


lvg
lvg

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Ah yest the resident bigot spews out his daily garbage just like his new fascist role model who isn't even capable of qualifying as a RINO.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Hillary is crooked and a scumbag.

No need t wait for the corrupt, partisan Obama DOJ to complete their investigation to know that.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Clinton's lead starting to rise again in the polls.


And its going to continue. We have seen Trumps high water mark.


After the Dem convention Clinton's lead could be double digits. Then its just a matter of how big the landslide will be. The Senate is gone. Will Trump cost the GOP the House as well ?


Real Americans are not going to let a racist idiot, one who believes in wild conspiracy theories anywhere near the WH.


In the end, winning the Dem nomination will have been a much tougher exercise.Beating Trump. Child's play


Just let him be himself. His racist views worked on 30+ % of the GOP base. We are gonna build a huuuuge wall !!!!! But he has to talk to the whole country now.


Muslims, Jews. Women, Hispanics, Blacks.


And he just cant do it.




DerekGator
DerekGator

@Hedley_Lammar :  The guy is made of Teflon, it will all be forgotten in a week and moving on to the next controversy.


They said that his high water mark was in the 20's, then 30's, now he has the nomination and is not far behind.  Count this guy out and you will be wrong. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Everyone that disagrees with you is not a bigot.


No they aren't


But when you say someone disagrees with you because of their race. That makes you a bigot.


For example say someone claimed a Judge would not be fair to them based solely on their race.


That would be a good example.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Hedley_Lammar you apparently can't speak anything but political correctness.

Just how long has it been since plain language left your comprehension?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Hedley_Lammar @JohnnyReb take off the blinders.

It is a combination of the judge's ethnicity and belonging to the lawyers La Raza group who came out against Trump.

You Libs should be calling for the judge to recuse himself, but instead you call Trump a racist.

Therein lies another indicator of political lunacy.

TicTacs
TicTacs

I'd like to see GA "great" again.  Everything was better when the Ds ran the state.  Everything.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

GA was better off when Our President Bush was in office.

Better economic growth, lower unemployment, fewer on welfare, better race relations.

lvg
lvg

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Yeah economy and real estae boomed in 2007 and 2008- obviously you were hibernating then.

DerekGator
DerekGator

@Lil_Barry_Bailout :  Anyone that does not recognize Bush as one of the worst presidents ever, for Iraq alone should not be allowed to vote.  

MarkVV
MarkVV

Trump is correct in most things? That is a laugh. He is wrong in almost everything, but that does not matter to his army of not thinking supporters.

Trump claims he is smart, but as a political candidate he shows himself as extremely stupid. The fact that it does not matter to his supporters does not change that. The one thing he is very smart about is his instinct to play on the fears and bigotry of his followers.

One example of his stupidity was his proposal to ban entry to the Muslims “until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on."  It was stupid on several levels. One, that as a political candidate he should have known that it would meet with strong opposition even from the leaders of his own party. While one can understand his playing on the bigotry of many people, he should have known that they would also hear the contra-arguments and condemnation even from people they support otherwise. And second, the stupidity of his words until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."  Apparently HE does not know “what the hell is going on. What is “going on” where? Is there really anybody among our country’s representatives who does not know what is going on? Again, he may be playing on the stupidity of his followers who do not know what is going on in the world, but does not change the stupidity of his pronouncement. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@MarkVV What you MarkVV obviously do not comprehend is, Trump voters, and BTW he has had a record number within the Repub primaries, could give two sheets what Liberals think.

And, we are tired of the constant card pulling as evidenced in your post of people being bigots.

Everyone that disagrees with you is not a bigot.

And not being a politician is a draw for Trump, not a distraction, and his supporters are willing to overlook his political correctness mistakes.

The only ones that don't get it are Libs and Repub establishment cowards.

If the Left did not have all those "label cards" to pull, you guys would have nothing.  Which pretty much sums up your true successes as those cards won't even buy you a cup of coffee.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

@MarkVV He's wildly ignorant of and not curious about issues he would face as president. That would require thinking ahead and he has winged this whole process and the dunderheads he appeals to just love that.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@JohnnyReb @MarkVV Apparently you, JohnnyReb, do not comprehend much. I have made it quite clear that, in my opinion, the Trump supporters do not care about whether what Trump says is false or stupid, And whether you (apparently you are using the pluralis majestatis – or have you been elected to speak for others?) are tired , is not my concern – I call bigots those, who are bigots, not those who only disagree with me.

DerekGator
DerekGator

@MarkVV :  Stupidity is allowing foreign Muslims from terrorist hot spots and Sharia Law practicing countries to freely enter our country without a way to properly vet them, while we are at war with Radical Islam and while Radical Muslims commit terrorist acts daily around the globe. 

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@MarkVV "The one thing he is very smart about is his instinct to play on the fears and bigotry of his followers."


That's called "being a bully"