As former chairman of the California Democratic Party, I’m the last one the Republican Party would turn to for advice. But here it is anyway. For the good of the party, and the country, Republicans should throw Donald Trump overboard before he does any more damage.
Every one of the five Democratic and 14 Republican candidates who have declared for president in 2016 so far have, understandably, tried to orchestrate their announcement in order to garner the maximum amount of buzz. Except for Donald Trump, who got more buzz than he intended.
In what a conservative journalist colleague at the White House told me was “the worst racist rant he’d ever heard from any politician,” Trump offered his views on immigration by smearing the entire Latino community. He boasted of building “a great wall” on the southern border and forcing Mexico to pay for it, because “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best.” Instead, Trump affirmed, “They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems to us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Trump later added that they’re also bringing “tremendous infectious disease.”
His outrageous remarks triggered immediate, negative condemnation from the corporate world. In protest, NBC and Univision both dropped broadcast of the Trump-sponsored Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama withdrew their contestants and sponsors from the event. Macy’s stopped selling Trump shirts and ties. The PGA pulled its Grand Slam of Golf tournament from Trump’s Los Angeles property. And master chef Jose Andres canceled plans to open a flagship restaurant in Trump’s new Washington, D.C., hotel.
By contrast, initial response from Trump’s fellow Republicans was either subdued or nonexistent – with the sole exception of Ted Cruz, who said he agreed with Trump on the dangers posed by illegal immigration and praised him for being so “bold and brash.” It wasn’t until the July 4 weekend, more than two weeks later, that any grumbling was heard from a handful of Republican candidates. Rick Perry said he was “offended” by Trump’s remarks about immigrants. Jeb Bush criticized his comments as “extraordinarily ugly” and just plain “wrong.” Marco Rubio called them “not just offensive and inaccurate, but also divisive.” All three added that Trump didn’t represent the Republican Party.
Aha! But there’s the problem. No matter how welcome the belated criticism of a few Republican candidates, for many people Donald Trump has become the face of the Republican Party. He’s still a Republican candidate for president. He’ll still be on the ballot as a Republican in all 50 states. And, since he already ranks No. 2 among Iowa and New Hampshire voters and in two recent national polls, unless Fox News changes its rules, on Aug. 6, Trump will walk out on stage in Cleveland as one of the top 10 contenders in the first GOP presidential debate.
What a potential disaster for the Republican Party. And yet, notice the stone silence of party officials. Finally, in a phone call on July 8, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus suggested that Trump tone down his comments on immigration. But that’s not enough. Why isn’t Priebus, or John Boehner or Mitch McConnell, willing to stand up and say: Donald Trump doesn’t stand for us, and we don’t stand for him. We don’t want him in our party. We don’t just take anybody in. Let him run as an Independent. We refuse to accept him as a Republican Party candidate for president, and we will block him from any GOP debate.
That’s not just my idea. This week, top Republican donor John Jordan told AP: “Someone in the party ought to start some sort of petition saying, ‘If Trump’s going to be on the stage, I’m not going to be on there with him.'” Sadly, so far, no Republican candidate has been willing to take that step.
And don’t say it can’t be done. Starting in 1976, Democrats had a similar problem with racist candidate Lyndon LaRouche. He ran seven times as a Democrat, but the Democratic National Committee refused to recognize him as a party member, banned him from all debates and refused to seat the few delegates he managed to win, even though he was nowhere near as popular or well-funded as Donald Trump.
Enough’s enough. Now’s the time for the Republican Party to demonstrate it has some sense of decency. Now’s the time to dump Donald Trump.