‘If you can’t beat him, join him’ appears to be the new directive coming from the Republican establishment, as Donald Trump maintains his lead for the 2016 the GOP nomination, months after political prognosticators had predicted his flame-out and demise.
A recently leaked memo by the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (NRSC) calls Trump a “misguided missile,” but argues, ultimately, that he is worthy of emulation rather than condemnation.
The success of Republicans running for senate next year could count on it.
“Conventional wisdom has counted Trump out on several occasions. But, Trump continues to rise and the criticisms seem to make him stronger,” writes NRSC Executive Director Ward Bake in the seven-page missive, which was not supposed to be made public but was leaked to The Washington Post. Several news organizations have reported on it since. Fox News has verified its authenticity.
“Trump has been gaining Democrat adherents and he’s solidifying GOP cohorts who feel they’ve been totally ignored by the Washington Ruling Class. If the environment aligns properly, Trump could win,” Ward writes. “It’s not a bet most would place now, but it could happen. That’s why it’s important for our candidates to run their own races, limit the Trump criticisms (other than obvious free kicks), and grab onto the best elements of the anti-Washington populist agenda.”
The memo also offers several “lessons” on how candidates can deal with the “Trump phenomenon” without getting tarred when Trump indulges in more explosive policy positions, off-color jokes, or seemingly radioactive political rhetoric.
“Trump is subject to farcical fits,” writes Ward. While trying to keep out of the fray, continue to take “Trump to task on outrageous statements where the media won’t let you off the hook. Choose opportunities to take the moral high ground while exerting your independence.”
This would include what appeared to be his mocking of a disabled reporter and a host of comments about women’s looks, like openly asking if Hillary Clinton is wearing a wig.
“Donald Trump has said some wacky things about women. Candidates shouldn’t go near this ground other than to say that your wife or daughter is offended by what Trump said,” writes Ward. “We do not want to reengage the “war on women” fight so isolate Trump on this issue by offering a quick condemnation of it.”
That said, he memo not only suggests the establishment has accepted that Trump may be the presidential nominee in 2016, but is also willing to walk the fine line between keeping a check on the self-funding billionare candidate, while taking advantage of the things that make him popular with Republican voters today.
“Trump has risen because voters see him as authentic, independent, direct, firm --- and believe he can’t be bought. These are the same character traits our candidates should be advancing in 2016. That’s Trump lesson #1."
"Trump is saying that the Emperor has no clothes and he challenges our politically correct times. Our candidates shouldn’t miss this point,” continues Ward. “Don’t insult key voter cohorts by ignoring that America has significant problems and that Trump is offering some basic solutions. Understand the populist points Trump makes and ride that wave.”
Contacted by Foxnews.com on Thursday, the NRSC said it was merely engaging in pragmatic political planning. “It would be malpractice for the Senatorial committee not to prepare our candidates for every possible Republican and Democrat nominee and election scenario,” said NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek.
Aside from telling candidates to “run your own race,” and “show your independence,” the memo suggests tapping into Trump’s ability to resonate with working people who have long decided Washington could not be trusted. It makes suggestions on using constituents to tell the story and “to bring the campaign back to real people and their daily struggle,” and not be afraid to take on China and immigration through the same Trump lens.
“You don’t have to go along with his more extreme positioning,” the memo reads. “Instead you should stake out turf in the same issue zone and offer your own ideas.”Just don’t spend “full time attacking our own nominee,” reads the memo, which Ward said was “written with the assumption that Donald Trump wins the nomination.”
“That will only serve to topple GOP candidates at every level.”