GOP worries it's losing impeachment fight

Republican senators fear President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters 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 CollinsOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump GOP Sen. Murkowski 'struggling' with whether to vote for Trump MORE (Maine), Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyFox News polls: Trump trails Biden in Ohio, Arizona and Wisconsin Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation MORE (Ariz.), Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerWe need a '9-1-1' for mental health — we need '9-8-8' Overnight Energy: US Park Police say 'tear gas' statements were 'mistake' | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump juggles three crises ahead of November election MORE (Colo.), Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstGOP lawmakers say Steve King's loss could help them in November The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden on the cusp of formally grasping the Democratic nomination The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen MORE (Iowa) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP Sen. Murkowski 'struggling' with whether to vote for Trump Poll: Biden leads Trump, Cunningham neck and neck with Tillis in North Carolina Scaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach 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 GrahamBill aims to help farmers sell carbon credits Graham postpones Russia probe subpoena vote as tensions boil over Graham pushes back on Mattis criticism of Trump: 'You're missing something here, my friend' 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 SullivanGOP senators urge Trump not to restrict guest worker visas Energy secretary accuses banks of 'redlining' oil and gas industry Postal Service to review package fee policy: report MORE (Alaska), Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump juggles three crises ahead of November election Retired Navy admiral behind bin Laden raid: Forcefully clearing DC protesters was not 'morally right' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump takes victory lap in morning news conference MORE (Alaska), Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump Portman: Trump should shift 'tone' amid criticism over response to protests MORE (Ohio), Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyEx-Joint Chiefs chairman: Trump threat to use military on protesters 'very dangerous' Ex-Defense secretary criticizes Trump for using military for 'partisan political purposes' Biden: Probably '10 to 15 percent' of Americans 'are just not very good people' MORE (Utah), Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMurkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump China stalled reporting genetic information about COVID-19, angering WHO: report Senate GOP chairman criticizes Trump withdrawal from WHO MORE (Tenn.), Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonJustice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein Loeffler runs ad tying Doug Collins to Pelosi, Sanders, Biden The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip MORE (Ga.) and Sen. Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziGOP senators dodge on treatment of White House protesters House GOP lawmakers urge Senate to confirm Vought The Hill's Morning Report - Can Sanders be stopped? 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 MulvaneyMick MulvaneyTrump names new acting director of legislative affairs 12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus MORE said the administration withheld defense aid to Ukraine in order to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination The Memo: Job numbers boost Trump and challenge Biden Chris Wallace: Jobs numbers show 'the political resilience of Donald Trump' 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: Jobs numbers show 'the political resilience of Donald Trump' Sessions accepts 'Fox News Sunday' invitation to debate, Tuberville declines Cornel West: 'We're witnessing the collapse of the legitimacy of leadership' 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 GiulianiPiers Morgan, Rudy Giuliani in furious debate over Trump: 'You sound completely barking mad' Rudy Giuliani calls on Cuomo to remove Bill de Blasio Sunday shows preview: States begin to reopen even as some areas in US see case counts increase MORE to use military assistance to Ukraine as political leverage.

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneOVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump| Esper orders hundreds of active-duty troops outside DC sent home day after reversal | Iran releases US Navy veteran Michael White Murkowski, Mattis criticism ratchets up pressure on GOP over Trump GOP shifting on unemployment benefits as jobless numbers swell 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 Energy: US Park Police say 'tear gas' statements were 'mistake' | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump juggles three crises ahead of November election Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats 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 Cramer7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports Trump tries to soothe anxious GOP senators Trump cites 'Obamagate' in urging GOP to get 'tough' on Democrats 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 ScottPaul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill Rand Paul holding up quick passage of anti-lynching bill With capital, communities of color can lead our economic revival MORE (R-S.C.), who both declined to comment on impeachment-related questions Thursday, are opting to stay quiet rather than defend the president.