President Trump’s comments about the Charlottesville riot have drawn condemnation from all quarters of the country. The true extent of the political damage to the president is not fully known at this point, but Fox News host Shepard Smith offered a clue. According to Smith, Fox News, a channel normally friendly to Trump and Republicans, could not find a single Republican to defend Trump’s statements on the air.
“Our booking team — and they’re good — reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today,” Smith said on his show Wednesday. “Let’s be honest, Republicans don’t often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that.”
“We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful,” Smith continued.
Throughout his short political career, the president has never had trouble finding Republicans to defend him. On issues from his connections to Russia to the Access Hollywood tape, there were always people willing to go on record to back Donald Trump and excuse his behavior.
While few, if any, Republicans are defending Trump, several are now condemning him by name. On Wednesday, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement, “Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”
“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham continued.
In a tweet, John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”
Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) launched a series of tweets in which he said that the white supremacist organizers of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville are “100% to blame for a number of reasons.”
“Mr. President,” Rubio tweeted, “you can’t allow White Supremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain.”
The list of other Republicans breaking with Trump on the issue is growing. CNN reports that it now includes Corey Gardner (R-Col.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and John Kasich (R-Ohio).
While Republicans have largely stood by the president since his nomination, Trump’s behavior is increasingly becoming a liability to Republicans who must face voters themselves. This is especially true when Trump veers into the emotionally charged world of race.
One of the few things that unites almost all Americans is a hatred for racism and Nazis. With his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides,” Trump has put his administration and the Republican Party firmly on the wrong side of the issue.
The proof is the lack of Republicans willing to back the president on Charlottesville. When Republicans won’t go on Fox News to defend President Trump, he is in serious trouble.