As Vermont Republicans desperately flee the sinking, and stinking, Good Ship Trump, it’s not at all surprising that the most ungainly lifeboat leap was executed by Senate nominee Scott MIlne. In ending his months of indecision on whether to endorse Trump, Milne tried to blame it all on — you guessed it — Pat Leahy.
“I was hoping to make it to a debate with Pat Leahy before talking specifically about the presidential contest, and the differences between Leahy and me regarding our treatment of candidates. But, Pat Leahy’s debate dodging, coupled with the embarrassing and completely inappropriate things that have been confirmed about Donald Trump, force me to speak,” said Milne.
… “I will not vote for Donald Trump, and I would respect his decision to step aside,” Milne concluded.
So he’d vote for extreme conservative anti-choice Mike Pence if given the opportunity?
I have no idea what he means by “the differences between Leahy and me regarding our treatment of candidates.” Would he bring up Bill Clinton’s scandals? Or maybe Chappaquiddick?
Whatever, the idea that Milne was holding off on a Trump decision turns out to be complete horseshit. Because we can pinpoint exactly when Milne made his decision. It was during a 20-minute period on Saturday afternoon.
Paul Heintz of Seven Days contacted Milne on Saturday to ask about the “grab them” audio. Milne’s response: Trump’s remarks were “disgusting” and “offensive” — but his position was unchanged. He was still deciding whether he would endorse Trump.
And then a funny thing happened.
Twenty minutes later, Milne called back and said he had considered the matter further and decided he could not support Trump after all.
And then on Sunday afternoon, Milne issued his statement blaming his indecision on Pat Leahy.
Yeah. Profiles in Courage.
He wasn’t the only Vermont Republican experiencing a sudden change of heart. House Minority Leader Don Turner withdrew his endorsement of Trump on Saturday night.
“I just cannot condone any of that,” he told the [Milton] Independent on Saturday night. “I have three daughters, and I would not ever want anyone to think of them in that manner or speak of them in that manner.”
That “protective father” idea is a popular one among backtracking Republicans. Okay, fine, but how about this: Trump’s remarks are offensive to anyone with a daughter or a mother or any woman in their lives whom they respect. To put it another way, to every single living, breathing human being, and quite a few of the dead ones.
But what was it, exactly, that made this Trump statement the one that broke the camel’s back? Republicans have tolerated Trump’s history of sexist, abusive behavior toward women. They’ve tried to ignore his attacks on just about everybody, up to and including the disabled and American prisoners of war. They’ve loyally propped him up as a potential President even as they acknowledged he wasn’t much of a role model. (Think about that long enough, you may despair of democracy.)
Phil Scott and Randy Brock must be feeling awfully good. They refused to get on the Trump bandwagon from the very beginning, and they deserve credit for doing so. The Republicans who are having to walk back their endorsements, or who held out until the bitter end hoping that Trump would suddenly morph into a statesman, must be wishing they could turn back the clock and join Scott and Brock in their principled stand. Too late.
Perhaps they will get a measure of poetic justice from an ironic source. In various parts of the country, “mainstream” Republicans abandoning their nominee are being booed and heckled by diehard Trumpers, who make up a substantial portion of the GOP base. The question is being raised, will those mainstreamers do further damage to the GOP’s electoral prospects by alienating so many of their core supporters? The immediate post-“grab them” poll indicated that the vast majority of Trump voters are still with him.
What if some of those Trump supporters vote for their man, but reject the rest of the GOP ticket? Or selectively vote for Republicans who remain loyal to Trump?
Even in liberal ol’ Vermont, Donald Trump got 32 percent of the Republican primary vote. That’s a lot of dependable Republican voters. Are any of them alienated by a state party that’s almost unanimous in its rejection of Trump? Will any of them take it out on the VTGOP in November?
I don’t know. But I’ll bet a lot of Republicans are very worried about it right now.