POLITICS
06/06/2016 06:33 pm ET

Republicans Really Hope Trump Will Stop Saying Racist Things About Judge

GOP leaders attempt to domesticate Trump with the passive voice.

As you may recall, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio spent the better part of the past year running for president of the United States, a position that would have required him to take an active role in world affairs and make swift, judicious, and responsible decisions. He failed, however, to secure his party's nomination, and has since offered to speak at the Republican National Convention on behalf of presumptive GOP nominee and baby-fingered bile mitten Donald Trump.

Rubio's offer raised a few eyebrows, because, as you might remember, he and Trump had a very contentious relationship during the primaries. But as Rubio told a Miami radio station back in April, "I've always said I'm going to support the Republican nominee ... and that's especially true now that it's apparent that Hillary Clinton" was going to win the Democratic nomination -- an outcome that Rubio couldn't have seen coming during the period when he was condemning Trump as a "con man." Clinton winning? That's just out of the blue, man.

Since offering his support to Trump, Rubio's found himself once again caught badly off guard by events that no one could have possibly anticipated -- namely, Trump's continual, racist maligning of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over lawsuits against Trump University. Monday, in an interview with WFTV-ABC News reporter Christopher Heath, Rubio responded to Trump's attacks on Curiel: "It's wrong and I hope he stops."

Rubio also told Heath: "I ran for president and I warned this was going to happen." Presumably, what Rubio means by "this" was a warning that he would probably make the offer to speak on Trump's behalf at the convention, but that after he made the offer there would be this whole sticky wicket where Trump revealed himself to be some sort of anti-Hispanic bigot, thus making Rubio's endorsement, like, really super-awkward, up until the moment Trump finally decides to stop doing that stuff -- a decision Rubio sure hopes Trump will make any day now.

Also hopeful is New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has very shrewdly vowed to "support" Trump, but not "endorse" him, citing the flexibility granted to anyone who perceives mild, hair-splittable differences between English language synonyms. Confronted with Trump's ongoing slander of Judge Curiel, Ayotte said his comments were "offensive and wrong," and added her wish that Trump might "retract" them, because a retraction would definitely put the cat back in the bag and everyone could just move on and forget about that whole time Trump disparaged a federal judge born in Indiana on the grounds that he had "Mexican heritage." 

The hope that Trump will reconsider things has existed for quite a long time. In the Jan. 15 GOP primary debate, Jeb Bush took a similarly plaintive stance against Trump's proposed ban on Muslims, saying, "Donald, Donald -- can I -- I hope you reconsider this."

Making sure that Trump understood the stern point he was making, Bush added, "So I hope you'll reconsider, I hope you'll reconsider."

So, hoping that Trump will stop doing the things he always does hasn't exactly been a winning strategy. But any minute now, it should totally do the trick. 

Hopefully, that is! After all, lots of Republican leaders are now swinging behind Trump with their endorsements, so it would probably be cool if Trump redeemed the judgment of those people with the comportment and decorum that he's always been just a day or two away from manifesting. Trump's all-but-certain domestication has been so long predicted that the fact that it hasn't quite happened yet is really catching GOP bigwigs unawares, as New York magazine's Eric Levitz reports:

Republican leaders spent the weekend registering their displeasure. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Chuck Todd that he “couldn’t disagree more” with Trump’s comments about Curiel. Tennessee senator Bob Corker said that the nominee is “going to have to change.” Even one of the mogul’s earliest supporters — and potential running mate — Newt Gingrich called Trump’s attack on the judge “inexcusable” and the candidate’s “worst mistake.” House Speaker (and recent Trump endorser) Paul Ryan condemned Trump's remarks in a similar fashion on Friday.

Paul Ryan has definitely had it the toughest, you guys. In the past few weeks, the House speaker has been pursuing an extended courtship of Trump, in which he's promised to take the time necessary for both men to see eye-to-eye on what the Republican Party needed from Trump, and come to an agreement on how the reality-show host needed to adjust his public persona in order to compete in the general election. That process seemed to have reached a happy conclusion last week, when Ryan went public with his endorsement of the presumptive GOP nominee.

But hours later, Ryan was shocked to see Trump still saying racist things about Curiel -- comments that Ryan said came "out of left field."

Yeah, man, it was really tough to predict that Trump would do that. Who'd have thunk it?

Ryan had a swift and tough response to Trump's sustained attacks on a sitting judge. "It's reasoning I don't relate to," he said. Strong stuff. "I completely disagree with the thinking behind that," Ryan added, in firm words that completely did not depict Ryan as the helpless captive to events that were beyond his ability to influence.

But Ryan wasn't done by a damn sight, continuing in Churchillian fashion like so: "And so, [Trump] clearly says and does things I don’t agree with, and I’ve had to speak up on time to time when that has occurred, and I’ll continue to do that if it’s necessary."

You never know when something like that might occur, after all. At any moment, Trump might say something with which Ryan disagrees, forcing Ryan to have to speak up about it. Could happen at any time. That's why Ryan has to have catlike reflexes, always ready to spring into action.

"I hope it's not [necessary]," Ryan concluded, probably staring wistfully into the middle distance, wishing and hoping for the best.

It may be that someone should step up and do something about this, by making it clear to Trump that he has to change. Usually, one looks to the people who work on the campaign and who advise the candidate to help make the difficult adjustment from saying racist balderdash at all times to not saying racist balderdash ever. For a look on how that's working out, let's check in on the reporting of MSNBC's Benjy Sarlin, Katy Tur, and Ali Vitali:

Republicans working to elect Trump describe a bare-bones effort debilitated by infighting, a lack of staff to carry out basic functions, minimal coordination with allies and a message that's prisoner to Trump's momentary whims.

"Bottom line, you can hire all the top people in the world, but to what end? Trump does what he wants," a source close to the campaign said.

Meanwhile, as Bloomberg's Kevin Cirilli, Michael Bender, and Jennifer Jacobs reported Monday:

An embattled Donald Trump urgently rallied his most visible supporters to defend his attacks on a federal judge's Mexican ancestry during a conference call on Monday in which he ordered them to question the judge's credibility and impugn reporters as racists.

[...]

When former Arizona Governor Jan Brewer interrupted the discussion to inform Trump that his own campaign had asked surrogates to stop talking about the lawsuit in an e-mail on Sunday, Trump repeatedly demanded to know who sent the memo, and immediately overruled his staff.

"Take that order and throw it the hell out," Trump said.

Huh! Well, that's worrisome, right? Not if you ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell! As The New York Times' Adam Liptak reports, McConnell is quite certain that somewhere in the Republican Party, there exists one or more eminence grises who are capable of taming Trump into respectability. There's just gotta be!

“He’ll have a White House counsel,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, told Hugh Hewitt, the radio host, on Monday. “There will be others who point out there’s certain things you can do and you can’t do.”

Hey, if you know any Republican leaders who might be really good at restraining Donald Trump's worst impulses, could you maybe let Republican leaders know? 

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

Huffington Post

~~~~~

Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.

HuffPost

BEFORE YOU GO

CONVERSATIONS