GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight

Republican senators fear President TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president 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 CollinsPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Collins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Democratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyWolf Blitzer: GOP senator should apologize for calling CNN reporter 'liberal hack' Martha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE (Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Hickenlooper raised .8 million for Colorado Senate bid in fourth quarter of 2019 Lawmakers introduce bill to bolster artificial intelligence, quantum computing MORE (Colo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstDrug price outrage threatens to be liability for GOP Progressive groups target eight GOP senators in ad campaign ahead of impeachment trial GOP senators introduce resolution to change rules, dismiss impeachment without articles MORE (Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisKoch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Tillis challenges eventual Democratic rival to five debates The Hill's 12:30 Report: Pelosi says impeachment articles coming 'soon' as pressure builds 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 GrahamDemocratic group plans mobile billboard targeting Collins on impeachment Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Roberts sworn in to preside over Trump impeachment trial 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 SullivanSenators inch forward on federal privacy bill Romney, Collins, Murkowski only Senate GOP holdouts on Graham's impeachment resolution GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight MORE (Alaska), Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPaul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Seven things to know about the Trump trial Trump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer MORE (Alaska), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSenate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico Republicans brush off Trump's call for impeachment dismissal GOP leadership: There aren't 51 votes to dismiss Trump articles of impeachment MORE (Ohio), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyCollins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump Senate approves Trump trade deal with Canada, Mexico MORE (Utah), Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer Trump Jr. to stump for ex-ambassador running for Tennessee Senate seat Hoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills MORE (Tenn.), Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonOvernight Health Care: New drug price hikes set stage for 2020 fight | Conservative group to spend M attacking Pelosi drug plan | Study finds Medicaid expansion improved health in Southern states New Georgia senator takes spot on health committee Loeffler sworn in to Georgia seat MORE (Ga.) and Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziLiz Cheney decides against Senate bid in Wyoming Overnight Defense: Senate sends 8B defense bill to Trump | Bill establishes Space Force, federal paid parental leave | House approves .4T spending package Senate sends 8B defense bill to Trump's desk 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 MulvaneyCollins says she's 'likely' to support calling witnesses for impeachment trial Schumer doesn't rule out calling Parnas to testify in impeachment trial Paul predicts no Republicans will vote to convict Trump MORE said the administration withheld defense aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Ex-Obama official on Sanders-Warren feud: 'I don't think it played out well for either of them' Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine 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: Pelosi plan to force 'McConnell to bow to her will' was a 'total failure' The Hill's Morning Report - Impeachment week Administration officials defend Trump claims, Soleimani intelligence as senators push back on briefing 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 GiulianiLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Parnas says he doesn't think that Joe Biden did anything wrong regarding Ukraine Parnas: Environment around Trump 'like a cult' MORE to use military assistance to Ukraine as political leverage.

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate to vote on Trump's Canada, Mexico trade deal Thursday Senate braces for Trump impeachment trial Republicans face internal brawl over impeachment witnesses 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 McConnellPoll shows Collins displaces McConnell as most unpopular senator Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti on impeachment: 'CNN can see through this nonsense' Trump says impeachment trial should move 'very quickly' 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 senator: 'Huge mistake' to restrict press access during impeachment trial Roberts, senators to be sworn in Thursday for impeachment trial The Hill's Morning Report — Impeachment tug-of-war expected to end soon 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 panel advances Trump's new NAFTA despite GOP gripes Trump to sign order penalizing colleges over perceived anti-Semitism on campus: report Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump MORE (R-S.C.), who both declined to comment on impeachment-related questions Thursday, are opting to stay quiet rather than defend the president.