The Republican in Pennsylvania's special election is dangerously close to losing. So naturally, Trump is attacking him.
The special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District was never supposed to be a close race. But even as Trump struggles to prop up Republican candidate Rick Saccone, behind closed doors he is trashing him as a failure.
According to CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and Jake Tapper, Trump told senior White House officials that Saccone is a weak candidate and a poor fundraiser, and believes that his involvement can only help his struggling campaign.
On the one hand, Republicans do broadly agree that Saccone, an Air Force veteran and state representative, is a worse campaigner than Democratic candidate Conor Lamb, a former Marine and federal prosecutor. Saccone has a checkered past that includes voting against protecting puppies from animal abuse and telling a mother that the government has no money to help her opioid-addicted son.
But try as he might, Trump can’t absolve himself of all blame for the GOP’s struggles in Southwest Pennsylvania.
For one thing, Trump carried this extremely conservative district by 20 points, and has already done a lot to promote Saccone’s candidacy. That public mood has soured so dramatically in the district, and that Trump’s presence did nothing to stop the race from becoming a toss-up, speaks volumes about the staying power of Trump’s support.
Furthermore, Trump and his fellow Republicans tried to nationalize this race, making it a referendum on the GOP tax scam, but found that even their own voters were unenthused. At the last minute, they quietly pulled their ads touting the tax law, realizing it was not a winning issue for them.
Now, the entire strategy is blowing up in their faces, as former Vice President Joe Biden is campaigning with Lamb against the tax law.
But it is not surprising that Trump is prepared to lay 100 percent of the blame on Saccone if the race ends up breaking against Republicans.
It is, after all, exactly what he did to Ed Gillespie after he lost his racist, Trump-style campaign for governor of Virginia. He did the same thing to failed Alabama judge and accused child molester Roy Moore after he blew what should have been the most winnable Senate race imaginable.
Now, it appears that Trump is poised to do it again as he blames anyone and everyone but himself for the sad state of the party he leads.