Heilemann: Republicans Continue to Follow Trump Because of ‘Fear’

TRENT BAKER

During Monday’s “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, network political analyst John Heilemann claimed “fear” is the reason Republicans continue to follow President Donald Trump.

Host Joe Scarborough asked Heilemann, “Why does this party continue marching over the cliff like lemmings behind a guy whose approval rating is about 40 percent on an issue where 75 percent of Americans oppose the president?”

Heilemann replied Republicans like Senate Majority Leader (R-KY) worry about what would happen to them if they did not support Trump in a state that strongly supports him.

“The question you’re asking illustrates the fact that the Republican Party at the intellectual moral level has already been reduced to dust. It’s not a question of whether it will be. It already has been,” Heilemann stated. “The reason that they continue to follow Donald Trump is very simple, it’s really straightforward: it’s fear. The fear is the fact that they believe that President Trump continues to dominate their party, that his approval ratings within the Republican Party are sufficiently high that if they were to deviate from his course, however suicidal it is in any given instance, that they will pay a price within the party. Mitch McConnell is a good example.”

He continued, “Mitch McConnell sits every day and worries about all the long-term things you’re talking about, but in the short term what Mitch McConnell worries about is getting primaried in 2020. What happens if Mitch McConnell turns against Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell wonders in a state like Kentucky where Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is north of 80 percent. That’s Mitch McConnell’s main concern. The concern of a lot of Republicans is they can see Trump is driving them off the cliff but they look at the short-term and they fear not the general election in 2020, but they fear the potential that Trump and a Trump-backed candidate could primary them and beat them before they even got to November. Is that fear? Panic? Cowardice? Stupidity? It’s all of those things, but it is the thing that I think that has been the governing dynamic in Republican politics for the last year. When will it change? It will change when they look at the math and the math changes enough that it costs them less to leave Trump than it costs them to stay with Trump in their judgment.”

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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