President Trump has left town, and TV ads by Republican Senate candidates attacking each other have disappeared. Questions remain.
Q. Did Trump fly here for a rally because he wanted to ridicule Joe Donnelly as “Sleepin’ Joe” and “swamp person” in the Democratic senator’s home area?
A. Right. Indiana’s Senate race is targeted by Republicans as crucial to hopes of retaining and even expanding their control of the Senate. They know Donnelly is vulnerable, a Democrat in a state that Trump won by a ton.
Q. Why the hurry for Trump to bring his wrath against Donnelly so quickly after the primary election?
A. Quick timing was due to those vicious TV attacks by the three Republicans fighting to become the challenger to Donnelly this fall. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence came to seek GOP unity after that primary fight, with Mike Braun, the winner, and Congressmen Todd Rokita and Luke Messer savaging each other. Braun was there to pledge foursquare Senate support for Trump.
Q. Trump denounced Donnelly for voting against the Republican tax plan. If Donnelly had become the lone Democrat to vote for the plan, would Trump have refrained from blasting him?
Q. So, Senate votes by Donnelly, even when he often sides with Trump on nominees and priorities, don’t mean anything in terms of Trump’s determination to defeat him?
A. Right. This is politics involving congressional control, not how often Donnelly seems to Trump to be naughty or nice. The moderate stances by Donnelly mean something to Hoosier voters who admire a less partisan approach. That’s why Trump wants to shatter that image and demonize Donnelly as a tool of “liberal handlers.”