GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight

Republican senators fear President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE and their party are losing the public opinion fight over impeachment.

Many in the GOP think House Democrats are playing politics with impeachment and that Trump’s actions don’t merit impeachment. They also think the media is biased against the White House and the president.

All the same, they think they’re losing the public battle and that Trump’s lack of discipline is hurting them.

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“Does he need to be so unhinged? He says the dumbest things,” said one Republican senator who vented frustration with the president’s outbursts on Twitter and in front of the White House press corps.

“Yeah, there needs to be a coordinated response to everything. There needs to be a coordinated effort to just shut up,” the senator said.

GOP lawmakers say that President Trump and his political team need to overhaul their strategy to regain momentum and prevent their party from losing the White House and a number of congressional seats next fall.

They say the White House’s efforts so far not only could limit Trump to one term, but could spell doom for vulnerable Senate GOP incumbents such as Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump 'delightful' Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyProgressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' MORE (Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner2020 hopes rise for gun control groups after Virginia elections Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study MORE (Colo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown GOP senator blocks vote on House-passed Violence Against Women Act Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' MORE (Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Feehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds Progressive group to spend as much as M to turn out young voters MORE (N.C.).

A veteran Republican strategist who advises on third-party independent TV expenditures told The Hill Wednesday that he thinks Trump’s reelection chances are well below 50 percent because his “negatives are so high.”

The strategist acknowledged, however, that many of his peers argue the 2020 battle for the White House is still a 50-50 proposition.

Even Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFBI official under investigation for allegedly altering document in Russia probe: report Trump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Graham requests State Department documents on Bidens, Ukraine MORE (R-S.C.), one of Trump’s most vociferous defenders on impeachment who is offering a resolution to condemn the House impeachment effort, said the White House needs to step up its game.

“What's missing here I think is that coordinated effort to put somebody in charge of developing a message and delivering it. I believe that's about to be corrected, I hope,” he said Wednesday.

It’s notable that while 44 Senate Republicans on Thursday signed on to the resolution, nine other GOP senators did not: Collins, Gardner, Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanRomney, Collins, Murkowski only Senate GOP holdouts on Graham's impeachment resolution GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight Senate GOP introduces resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry MORE (Alaska), Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day MORE (Alaska), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics Budget process quick fixes: Fixing the wrong problem Why Republicans are afraid to call a key witness in the impeachment inquiry MORE (Ohio), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump 'delightful' Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (Utah), Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderCrunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle MORE (Tenn.), Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonHundreds apply to fill Isakson's Senate seat in Georgia Veterans face growing threat from online disinformation Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (Ga.) and Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Budget process quick fixes: Fixing the wrong problem Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (Wyo.).

Republicans are concerned about new revelations and unforced errors over the past week that have given Democrats new momentum.

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One big moment came last week when acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs Hill, Holmes offer damaging impeachment testimony: Five takeaways Trump campaign releases 'Bull-Schiff' T-shirts MORE said the administration withheld defense aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenKamala Harris receives new Iowa endorsements after debate performance Watergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs MORE and his son Hunter.

“Get over it. There’s going to be political influence in foreign policy,” Mulvaney declared at a press conference in a high-profile admission that left GOP lawmakers cringing.

Mulvaney later argued that his comments were misconstrued, but a bruising interview with Chris WallaceChristopher (Chris) WallaceChris Wallace: Republicans, Democrats were both 'fed up' with Gordon Sondland Trump attacks Fox News for interviewing Swalwell Chris Wallace: Sondland testimony 'took out the bus and ran over' Trump, top aides MORE on “Fox News Sunday” showed the damage was done.

Another big moment came Tuesday when William Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, delivered a damning 15-page opening statement to House investigators detailing a secretive effort led by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs Hill, Holmes offer damaging impeachment testimony: Five takeaways Graham requests State Department documents on Bidens, Ukraine MORE to use military assistance to Ukraine as political leverage.

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenators grill safety regulator over self-driving cars Tensions rise in Senate's legislative 'graveyard' Overnight Health Care: GOP senator says drug price action unlikely this year | House panel weighs ban on flavored e-cigs | New York sues Juul MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican leader, later admitted to reporters the picture painted by Taylor’s testimony was worrying, even while he also criticized House Democrats for running the investigation behind closed doors.

“The picture coming out of it based on the reporting that we've seen is, yeah, I would say not a good one,” Thune told reporters Wednesday.

Trump’s actions at times have left his GOP allies dumbfounded, such as earlier this month when he called on Beijing to investigate the Bidens.

Even Graham admitted in an “Axios on HBO” interview that “that was stupid.”

And the president stepped in it again earlier this week when he compared the House impeachment inquiry to a “lynching,” a charged word that recalls the nation’s darkest episodes of racial violence.

Many Republicans scrambled to disavow Trump’s choice of words.

“Given the history of our country, I would not compare this to a lynching,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Deal on defense bill proves elusive | Hill, Holmes offer damaging testimony | Trump vows to block Navy from ousting officer from SEALs Trump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Congressional authority in a time of Trump executive overreach MORE (R-Ky.) said somberly, reflecting broad dismay within his caucus over the language.

Other Trump allies say the president’s frequent zigging and zagging makes it tougher to defend him against Democratic attacks, even though they also acknowledge that past efforts to tamp down on Trump’s tweeting have proved unsuccessful.

“I think it could be helpful to have a more professional, coordinated communications effort. However, you have to be very careful to not prohibit Donald Trump from being Donald Trump and that’s the risk you run when you start institutionalizing these things,” said Sen. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-N.D.).

But Cramer said Trump’s unpredictability makes it tougher for GOP allies to defend the president.

“The reason it’s difficult is sometimes he changes in midstream and when that happens you find yourself out on a limb that has suddenly been cut off,” he said. “The lack of that sort of institutional discipline does make it more difficult for the rest of us, if you will, as we’re trying to carry his message.”

Thune on Thursday expressed his hope the White House messaging operation would become more organized in the weeks ahead.

“It always is an advantage to make sure that you are as organized, prepared and coordinated as you possibly can be. And to the degree they can step up the efforts, that’s great,” he said.

“I’ll leave that to them and I’m sure they’re preparing,” he added. “We’ll see if the House proceeds. If they do, they’re going to have be able to respond and put on a defense.”

As damaging revelations pile up, more and more senators such as McSally and Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottSenate approves stopgap bill to prevent shutdown Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny On The Money: Appeals court clears way for Congress to seek Trump financial records | Fed chief urges Congress to boost US workforce | Federal deficit hits 4 billion in one month | China talks hit snag over agricultural purchases MORE (R-S.C.), who both declined to comment on impeachment-related questions Thursday, are opting to stay quiet rather than defend the president.