In regards to politicians supporting or moving away from Donald Trump over the outrageous things he says, Tom Lawrence spends some time today drawing a comparison between the South Dakota Congressional Campaign of 2006, and the Trump Campaign of 2016.
Politics can be cold. A candidate perceived to be in a death spiral can find himself very lonely.
Thune, seeking a third term against a Democratic underdog — can you name him? — keeps saying Trump must do better. He skipped the Republican National Convention.
Back in 2006, Whalen’s campaign went down the drain when Breard spread rumors that Herseth was a home-wrecker, breaking up the marriage of then-Texas Congressman Max Sandlin, and/or that she was pregnant by her chief of staff.
The lies were so outrageous, Whalen’s campaign collapsed.
Herseth did marry Sandlin in 2007, but it was years after his first marriage had ended. And Herseth was not pregnant then, either. When Breard was caught pitching those bogus stories to reporters, his candidate’s long-shot chances was ruined, and his reputation shattered.
Some of Trump’s claims have been equally absurd, causing Republicans great distress and Democrats to point to polls and smile. He is trailing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by a large margin in recent polls, and Republicans running for Congress are eager to distance themselves from him this fall.
Rounds isn’t on the ballot, but he has endorsed Trump, as did Noem. Both reportedly attended the RNC, but like most Republicans, they are keeping a close eye on Trump this summer as he damaged his own campaign as well as the GOP brand.
Do you think there’s a comparison? Way back then, I recall this blog was the first to point out that those allegations picked up from the Whalen campaign were posted online from some kid in New Jersey, an ardent (and just a little creepy) Herseth admirer who claimed he was chief of staff, and not from any official source. And the accusations were pretty over the top.
Were Thune and Rounds wrong in steering a bit clear from Bruce? Well… that’s a good question. Bruce is a likeable guy who now devotes significant time to fighting corruption on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He may have been a long shot, but those comments voided any potential criticism that could have been leveled at his fellow Republicans.
It’s a difficult tightrope candidates must navigate as they walk over political minefields of supporting (or avoiding) candidates who say foolish things. And was no different now than it was back then.
As has been noted several times, as bad as Trump might come off, Hillary is worse. Should the outrageous void any scolding for not being behind “our guy?”
For those making the decision to support Trump or not now, that tightrope is still there, just as it was in 2006.