Donald Trump spent yesterday campaigning with Senator Bob Corker, whom the Republican nominee called “a great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody.” This was the sort of affirmation Trump is counting on to consolidate Republican support and tamp down potential unpleasantness in Cleveland. Unfortunately for him, Corker proceeded to announce that he is withdrawing from consideration to be Trump’s vice-presidential nominee. Worse, from Trump’s point of view, he did so in an interview with the Washington Post, a newspaper banished by Trump’s campaign. And then, even worse still, Trump’s campaign bizarrely refused to accept that Corker was breaking up with Trump. Katrina Pierson tells CNN, “Historically a lot of the candidates say they’re not interested or they don’t want to be considered. At the end of the day, once they’re asked, they usually accept.”
The Trump campaign has operated on a circular form of reasoning about its vice-presidential selection. Its premise is that anybody would be gratified to run on a ticket with Trump. It follows that, if any rumored candidates say they would not run with Trump, this only proves they have not been considered. Yet reality is not following this script. Today’s withdrawal from consideration by Joni Ernst, the right-wing Iowa senator, contributes to the dilemma. Trump’s intent use of the period leading up to his convention as a reality-television-style audition where he appears with a series of potential running mates and selects the most desirable is giving way to a reality in which the field is considering, and then rejecting, Trump, until he is left with no other decent options. This is a version of the Trump show in which a series of guests appear across the table from Trump to tell him they quit.
Meanwhile, last night, Trump resumed his long-standing, occasional habit of lavishing public praise on the anti-terror policies of Saddam Hussein, a figure not held in high esteem among likely voters in the United States or any region outside the Sunni Triangle. He accuses his opponent of having bad judgment via sporadically all-caps, misspelled tweets that are themselves evidence against his own judgment:
The campaign, reports Byron York, “has been hemorrhaging staff in recent days”:
Republicans Kevin Kellems, Erica Freeman, Vincent Harris, and now Bennett have all left recently — Harris after two days on the job and Kellems after a little less than three weeks. And that is on top of Trump’s firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Earlier, Rick Wiley, a former top Republican National Committee official and Scott Walker campaign chief, also left Trump after a brief tenure.
Katie Glueck reported last week that Trump has almost no campaign apparatus in Pennsylvania, the single state most crucial to his Electoral College strategy. And David Fahrenthold, who has amassed damning evidence that Trump has abused or misstated his professed charitable donations, received the following on-the-record response from Eric Trump: “I’m just saying, Jesus Christ, why is this guy trying to f***ing kill us?” Trump did not rebut the central allegations of Fahrenthold’s reporting.