RNC chairman: We're fully behind Trump
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The Republican National Committee is standing fully behind Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE, chairman Reince Priebus said Monday in a private conference call.

Speaking to the 168 members of the RNC, Priebus sought to squash rumors that the national party would cut the nominee loose to focus on protecting GOP majorities in the House and Senate, according to sources on the call.


Trump is running a bare-bones campaign that is overly reliant on staff from the RNC, and a reallocation of resources to down-ballot races would effectively doom his campaign.

Down-ballot Republicans have begun signaling they’ll run parallel campaigns that are untethered from the GOP nominee, leaving the party in a perilous position less than a month before Election Day.

Priebus argued in the closed call that while he does not condone Trump’s vulgar comments about women, the nominee apologized and the party stands with him, according to the source. 

The GOP was thrust into turmoil by the Friday afternoon release of a recording from 2005 in which Trump was caught on a hot microphone talking about how his celebrity allows him to do anything with women, including grabbing their genitalia.

The party spent the weekend stamping out rumors that it’s considering diverting resources away from Trump as his poll numbers plummet. And Trump supporters, led by Virginia GOP gubernatorial hopeful Corey Stewart, rallied at the RNC to call on the party to stand behind its nominee.

Stewart was later fired from his post as the head of Trump’s Virginia campaign operation. 

There's been limited polling since the release of the video, but a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday showed Clinton up 14 points in a head-to-head matchup. And it showed that 49 percent of voters wanted Democratic control of Congress, compared to 42 percent who wanted to see Republicans hold on. 

If that margin grows much past 7 points, it could threaten what was once seen as the GOP's certain control of the House, a House leadership source acknowledged to The Hill. 

"The generic ballot trending [is] away from us. If it gets to 10, very hard to win swing seats even with a superior campaign," said the source.

The revelations have forced Republicans into a bind: Staying with Trump could turn of swing voters angered by his comments from the video, but breaking with him would likely dampen turnout by the party's base. 

More than two-dozen lawmakers, including Senate GOP Conference Chair John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTelehealth is calling — will Congress pick up? GOP grows tired of being blindsided by Trump Hillicon Valley: Assange faces US charges after arrest | Trump says WikiLeaks 'not my thing' | Uber officially files to go public | Bezos challenges retail rivals on wages | Kremlin tightens its control over internet MORE (S.D), have called on Trump to step aside. Vulnerable senators like Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSherrod Brown asks Trump Fed pick why he referred to Cleveland, Cincinnati as 'armpits of America' Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller GOP senator wears shirt honoring Otto Warmbier at Korean DMZ MORE (Ohio), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhy did Mueller allow his investigation to continue for two years? If you don't think illegal immigrants are voting for president, think again 10 factors making Russia election interference the most enduring scandal of the Obama era MORE (Ariz.) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteNew Hampshire senator to ask 2020 Dems to back repeal of state residency law Schultz recruiting GOP insiders ahead of possible 2020 bid Bottom Line MORE (N.H.) have withdrawn their support, but others in tight races — including Pat Toomey (Pa.), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDems plot aggressive post-Mueller moves, beginning with McGahn Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Cuban negotiator says Trump's efforts to destabilize Cuba's government will fail MORE (Fla.) and Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrGOP senator: 'No problem' with Mueller testifying Collins backs having Mueller testify Graham says he's 'not interested' in Mueller testifying MORE (N.C.) — are staying the course. 

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAppeals court rules House chaplain can reject secular prayers FEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday MORE (R-Wis.) told his conference on a Monday morning conference call that he would no longer defend Trump and would solely focus on maintaining the House majority to ensure Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDavis: The shocking fact that Mueller never would have accused Trump of a crime Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE does not have a "blank check" if elected. While he told lawmakers he was not rescinding his endorsement of Trump, he gave them the green-light to do so if needed. 

"You all need to do what’s best for you in your district,” Ryan said, according to a source on the call.

But Trump has been resolute, proclaiming he would never quit and attacking Ryan in a tweet soon after that statement.  

Ryan’s remarks have angered some RNC members, who say the Speaker is actively working against them.

“I would prefer that he keep his mouth shut,” said Steven Scheffler, an RNC committeeman from Iowa. “If you don’t want to work with Trump, then don’t. I understand he has a job to do, but I’m tired of him or anyone else making a point of saying this. Do they want to give the election to Clinton?”

Trump has signaled a scorched-earth approach for the remaining weeks of the campaign, typified by his description of his comments as simply "locker room talk" and his decision to bring three women who have accused President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonPost-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 What Trump voters got right The Memo: Harris move shows shift in politics of gun control MORE of sexual harassment or assault to Sunday's debate. 

Priebus and other RNC members say Trump has apologized and put the controversy behind him.

"In the end, I will not condemn or abandon a man that has every right to forgiveness as I do,” Robert Graham, an executive board member of the RNC and the chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, said in a statement.

“It is my responsibility, as a member of the Republican National Committee, to elect our Republican nominees and defend our country against all enemies,” Graham said. “Hillary Clinton is an enemy to our nation’s security, general welfare and blessings of liberty. I will continue to work with passion, integrity and restlessness to stop Hillary Clinton and elect Donald J. Trump.”

This story was updated at 5:58 p.m.