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Sinking Trump seeks to squash GOP dissent

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE is seeking to squash lingering dissent within the GOP, lashing out at Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Trump: Liz Cheney's election remarks sparked by push to bring US troops home Biden's lead over Trump surpasses 6M votes as more ballots are tallied MORE (R-Wyo.) and former Bush administration official Tom Ridge after the two offered implicit and explicit criticism of the president.

The intraparty spats come as some cracks show in Trump's typically overwhelming support among Republicans.

Polls show Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE by significant margins in some key battleground states, raising fears among some Republicans that the party will lose both the White House and Senate in November. A new poll on Thursday showed Trump 13 points behind Biden in Florida.

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Trump waded into the fight involving Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, days after conservatives targeted her for her opposition to the president’s foreign policy and her vocal support of Anthony FauciAnthony FauciHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Overnight Health Care: Biden asked Fauci to serve as chief medical adviser | COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Rhode Island Gov. Raimondo says she won't be Biden's HHS secretary Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine MORE, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert.

Some of the president’s staunchest House allies this week called for Cheney to step down from her leadership post, and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., also piled on. 

“Liz Cheney is only upset because I have been actively getting our great and beautiful Country out of the ridiculous and costly Endless Wars,” the president tweeted Thursday, adding that “so-called allies … must, at least, treat us fairly!!!”

The president also retweeted Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: Lawmakers release compromise defense bill in defiance of Trump veto threat | Senate voting next week on blocking UAE arms sale | Report faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' in military plane crashes Senate to vote next week on blocking Trump's UAE arms sale McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return MORE (R-Ky.), who wrote: “We should all join
@realDonaldTrump in advocating to stop our endless wars. Liz Cheney not only wants to stay forever, she’s leading the fight to try to stop him from leaving. Unacceptable”

Cheney’s criticisms of Trump are generally limited to foreign policy, such as his recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Germany. But the backlash to some of her recent views reflects the simmering debate over Trump’s grip on the party and the GOP’s direction after November’s election. 

Republicans close to the White House view the squabbling as counterproductive at this critical juncture of Trump’s reelection efforts.

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“The focus should be on Biden,” said one informal adviser to the president. “Trump needs to run like he’s behind like he did last time and he needs to be prepared to expose what Joe Biden hasn’t accomplished in 40 years in government.”

Dan Eberhart, a GOP fundraiser who is supportive of Cheney, called the criticisms of her overblown and described her as the “future” of the party.

“[Cheney is] one of the smartest GOP House members and is the future of the House GOP,” he said.

Trump has been under relentless assault from small groups of former Republicans and the Never Trump Republicans who are rallying to see him defeated in the fall, highlighting the extent to which some Washington Republicans have broken from the party.

The Lincoln Project, a group of former Republicans that includes George ConwayGeorge ConwayLack of influence means it's time to dismiss the Lincoln Project Sirota: Lincoln Project election efforts to swing GOP votes from Trump 'epic failure' Raccoon that 'attacked' news crews on White House lawn sparks viral jokes MORE, raised nearly $17 million in the second quarter and has been releasing new anti-Trump material on a near-daily basis. The group has also taken aim at what it views as Trump’s enablers in the Senate, including vulnerable moderate Republicans up for reelection, such as Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him GOP blocks effort to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks MORE (Maine) and Cory GardnerCory GardnerMark Kelly to be sworn in as senator on Wednesday Hillicon Valley: Trump fires top federal cybersecurity official, GOP senators push back | Apple to pay 3 million to resolve fight over batteries | Los Angeles Police ban use of third-party facial recognition software Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities MORE (Colo.).

Businesswoman Carly Fiorina, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, has been letting loose on Trump and condemning Republicans, such as Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return MORE (Alaska), who she says have gone soft on Trump.

In addition to the Lincoln Project, a newly formed group of former Bush administration officials called the Right Side PAC launched recently to support Biden in key swing states.

Former Republican Secretary of State Colin PowellColin Luther PowellReinvesting in American leadership George W. Bush congratulates Biden, Harris Don't wait to start the transition MORE is one of several top former Republican officials to announce last month he’d vote for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in November. Trump responded by calling Powell a “real stiff who was very responsible for getting us into the disastrous Middle East wars.”

Ridge, who led the Department of Homeland Security under former President George W. Bush, hammered the Trump administration for its tactics against protesters in Portland, Ore., where the mayor and governor have called for the removal of federal agents.

Trump bashed Ridge in a tweet on Thursday, calling him a “Republican in name only.”

“Love watching pathetic Never Trumpers squirm!” the president added.

Trump insiders interviewed by The Hill dismissed the criticism, saying the former officials like Powell and Ridge are not reflective of the party as a whole.

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“Colin Powell hasn’t endorsed a Republican candidate for president since George W. Bush, so the fact that the media holds him up as a Republican voice shows how dishonest the media has become,” said Andy Surabian, a former Trump White House official. “Tom Ridge was barely a Republican himself when he was governor of Pennsylvania, he was a moderate pro-choice governor. The most moderate and least conservative Republicans are the people who never actually represented the voters but had the power anyway, and now they’re upset that they’re out of power. Shocking.”

Over the past few weeks, as Trump’s poll numbers have worsened, current GOP officials have been emboldened to speak out against him.

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him WaPo reporter says GOP has less incentive to go big on COVID-19 relief COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks MORE (R-Utah), the GOP’s 2012 presidential nominee, is a frequent critic of Trump’s tone and style. He joined the Black Lives Matter protests following the police killing of George Floyd. Trump responded by sarcastically praising Romney’s “tremendous sincerity.”

“What a guy,” Trump said over Twitter. “Hard to believe with this kind of political talent, his numbers would ‘tank’ so badly in Utah!”

But GOP senators who have not been as critical of Trump have also spoken out as the president’s poll numbers have cratered.

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback Congress faces late-year logjam Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (R-S.D.) has called on Trump to change his reelection messaging. 

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Senate Republicans have been at odds with the White House over the new coronavirus stimulus package, and on Thursday it became clear that their bill would not include a top Trump priority, a payroll-tax cut.

GOP leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), a fierce Trump ally, have warned about the growing coronavirus disaster in their home states, even as the president has downplayed the threat. 

“I think any leader is better if they have people holding them accountable. Not just enemies, but people that can then give them honest feedback about job performance,” said Wendy Day, a former vice chair of the Michigan Republican Party who was ousted by now-Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielTrump campaign, RNC announce 0 million post-election fundraising haul Ronna McDaniel launches bid for third term as GOP chair The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE for refusing to back Trump ahead of the 2016 election. “Politics is so ego-driven that many times honest feedback doesn’t happen.”

Polls show Trump has overwhelming support among average Republican voters nationwide, even as his standing has eroded among virtually every other important voting bloc.

Recent public opinion surveys that have found Biden with a healthy lead have also found Trump’s support among Republicans holding steady in the high 80 percent to low 90 percent range. The Quinnipiac University survey of Florida released Thursday that found Biden leading by 13 points also found Trump’s support among Republicans at 88 percent.

Trump’s allies are confident those numbers will improve as the race becomes a binary choice between Trump and Biden. The Trump campaign says that the GOP dissenters get a lot of attention inside Washington but are not representative of how ordinary Republicans across the country feel about the president.

“This is the swamp — yet again — trying to take down the duly elected President of the United States,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine. “President Trump is the leader of a united Republican Party where he has earned 94% of Republican votes during the primaries – something any former president of any party could only dream of.”