Politics

Down Ballot-Republicans' Donald Trump Problem Just Got a Whole Lot Bigger

October 25th 2016

By:
Lucy Tiven

As polls project an increasingly likely win for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, she’s begun to lob attacks against down-ballot Republicans while on the campaign trail.

hillary-clinton

This is a major departure from the Clinton campaign's tactics earlier on in the race — which characterized Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as an aberration from Republican party norms in order to appeal to moderate Republican voters and independents.

Over the weekend, Clinton changed her tune.

At a Saturday Pennsylvania speaking event, Clinton launched a fierce offensive against Senator Pat Toomey (R), who is in a close race with Democratic challenger Katie McGinty, Buzzfeed news reports.

“Look at Katie’s opponent,” Clinton said. “He still refuses to stand up to Donald Trump. Now, a lot of Republicans have. They have had the grit and the guts to stand up and say, ‘He does not represent me.’”

“Pat Toomey heard Donald attack a grieving Gold Star family, heard Donald call Mexican immigrants rapists, he heard him say terrible things about women, heard him spread the lie that our first black president wasn’t really born in America,” Clinton continued. “Now how much more does Pat Toomey need to hear? If he doesn’t have the courage to stand up to Donald Trump after all this, can you be sure he’ll stand up for you when it counts?”

Toomey, for his part, maintains that he has not endorsed Trump and is being falsely portrayed as supporting him by his opponent.

"I have refused to endorse Donald Trump," Toomey said at a Monday Senate debate reported by a local ABC news affiliate. "Katie McGinty say that's supporting Donald Trump. That doesn't make any sense."

Popular Clinton ally Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) also opened fire down the ballot Monday, while campaigning for Clinton at a New Hampshire rally.

Warren slammed Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), another senate Republican who is in a tight race with Gov. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to keep her senate seat.

Kelly Ayotte

“Trump even attacked Kelly Ayotte and called her weak and Kelly stuck with him,” Warren said. “Now, Donald Trump’s not doing so well and Kelly is running as fast as she can away from him."

Ayotte initially refused to endorse Trump, but maintained that she would vote for him — prompting the candidate to openly lash out at her in a Washington Post interview back in August.

elizabeth-warren

Warren also laid into Ayotte for calling Trump a "role model" during an October 3 Senate debate. Though Ayotte claimed she "misspoke" hours after the debate, this didn't stop Hassan from using the comment in an attack ad released days later.

After the now-infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape surfaced, Ayotte condemned Trump's comments. She announced that she would not vote for him the day after the recording was released, RealClearPolitics reports.

Clinton and Warren's remarks are good news for down-ballot Democratic contenders and further aid may be on the way.

From NBC News:

"Meanwhile, pro-Democratic super PAC Priorities USA, which originally intended to focus solely on boosting Clinton, has started running ads hitting Ayotte and Tommey, with more targets coming later this week, according to a source familiar with the group's plans.

"New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the all-but-certain incoming Senate Democratic leader, has transferred millions from his reelection campaign to other candidates. Sen. Bernie Sanders is using the remnants of his presidential campaign to boost colleagues."

President Obama has gone even further than Clinton or Warren.

At a Sunday campaign stop, Obama sent a stern message that it is simply too late for the GOP to escape the "Trump stain," the New York Times reports.

obama

"They just stood by and said nothing, and their base actually began to believe this crazy stuff,” Obama said. “Donald Trump didn’t start this. He just did what he always does, which is slap his name on it, take credit for it and promote it.”

“Now, when suddenly it’s not working, suddenly that’s a deal breaker," he added. "Well, what took you so long? What the heck?”

As ATTN: reported previously, Obama has endorsed 150 Democratic candidates across 20 states — a rare move for a sitting president.