Cory Gardner has, at long last, dumped Donald Trump. And now he can only think to himself what a hero he would have been if he’d never endorsed him in the first place.
Gardner struggled with it, but, in the end, he played the good soldier instead of playing the good person, which he had one briefly at the Republican convention when he walked out on the Trump coronation.
Now Gardner is calling for Trump to step aside in favor of Mike Pence, which seems to be the go-to choice for the ship jumpers. Gardner said he would not for Hillary Clinton in any case, but would write in Pence’s name. Obviously Gardner has to make it seem that his Trump endorsement was only a stop-Clinton move.
The list of Republicans abandoning Trump is growing by the minute. Trump says he won’t quit the race regardless.
And here’s where many people thought Republicans would end up if they chose to nominate Trump. There are at least three big questions remaining: Why didn’t this happen sooner, when will the next tapes come out, and is there anyone who won’t watch Sunday’s debate?
If Cory Gardner is the political genius everyone says he is, he will jump the Trump ship right now. If he does it now, when the ship-jumping is still at a trickle, he’ll get some credit for being smart. He’s already missed the part where he could have been seen as courageous. Now he risks just being one of the remaining rats who leave after Trump’s expected disaster at the Sunday debate.
As I tweeted last night, just before Mike Coffman — who, in a close race with Morgan Carroll, had no choice — dumped Trump by asking him to step aside, all Gardner had to do was say that he took one for the team by endorsing Trump, but that now, in the name of common decency, he is withdrawing his support and demanding that Trump withdraw.
The Joe McCarthy common-decency moment has passed in this race. Republicans should have listened to George Will when he quit the party rather than be associated with the Donald.
But the longer you go without renouncing Trump, who told the Washington Post Saturday morning that there was zero chance he would quit the race, the longer the Trump stain will stay with you.
The longer you do what Paul Ryan did and say he was “disgusted” with Trump but was still voting for him or what Mike Pence did, saying he couldn’t “condone” Trump but was still running alongside him, the longer you do what most Republican politicians do, the less claim you ever have again to decency, common or otherwise.
Which brings us to Darryl Glenn, the Christian conservative who now says he is praying over the situation. I’ll admit I’m not a big prayer guy, but I don’t know what response Glenn expects. You don’t have to know a 2 Corinthians from a Second Corinthians to know that pre-tape Trump is exactly the same as post-tape Trump except now we have Trump on tape boasting about grabbing women’s crotches, only using a word that I’m not comfortable writing. Glenn is 15 points behind in the race. What does he have to lose besides his soul?
Trump said this was locker-room banter. It might have been in the 1950s and ’60s when Trump was growing up. But it’s not banter in many locker rooms in 2016. And it wasn’t banter in 2005 when a 60-year-old man sounded like the unformed middle-schooler he apparently has never grown out of being.
I don’t see how Trump, who has overcome so many similar moments in his campaign, can survive this one. The question now, for many Republicans, is whether they can.
Illustration by Philipe, courtesy Flickr, Creative Commons.