By Ben Kamisar
The Senate Republicans’ campaign arm has a contingency plan in case Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump gives Lester Holt a C grade for debate Trump camp talking points: Mention Monica Lewinsky Trump floats theory that Google suppresses negative news on Clinton MORE wins the GOP presidential nomination — one that amounts to a mixed embrace of the controversial politician.
“We should prepare for 2016, by understanding the environment and recognizing the Trump phenomenon,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Executive Director Ward Baker writes in a private September memo to the group’s senior staff, made public by The Washington Post on Wednesday.
The NRSC told The Post that it has prepared plans for other potential candidates, not just Trump.
Baker’s memo lays out 11 suggestions for candidates on the assumption that Trump wins, ranging from supportive of the front-runner to repudiating him.
Calling Trump a “misguided missile,” Baker notes that candidates will likely have to answer for his controversial comments on the trail.
“We need not be tied to him so closely that we have to engage in permanent cleanup or distancing maneuvers,” he says.
“Don’t get drawn into every Trump statement and every Trump dust-up,” he adds before noting that “Trump is subject to farcical fits.”
In regards to his comments about women, Baker writes, “Houston, we have a problem,” before noting that the real estate magnate “has said some wacky things about women.”
“Candidates shouldn’t go near this ground other than to say that your wife or daughter is offended by what Trump said,” he adds.
But he warns against repeatedly attacking Trump, which “will ensure that the GOP vote is depressed [and] will only serve to topple GOP candidates at every level.”
Republicans have long worried that the cloud of controversy surrounding the mogul could have a trickle-down effect on the party’s chances to hold its Senate majority in 2016. Democrats only need to flip five seats for outright control of the body, and the vast majority of competitive races involve Republican incumbents.
The NRSC assessment also lauds Trump for connecting with voters and says that there are places where candidates can learn from Trump.
“We may not like it, but Trump has connected with voters on issues like Trade with China and America’s broken borders. When Trump was criticized on building a wall to stop immigration, he noted how Israel successfully built walls that were cost effective and did the job,” Baker says.
“You should stake out turf in the same issue zone and offer your own ideas.”
He adds that candidates should realize that he’s offering “basic solutions” to “significant problems” in America and that they should “understand the populist points Trump makes and ride that wave.”
Sadie Weiner, the communications director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, warned that the memo shows how "big a problem" Trump is for Senate Republicans.