Republican senators have ignored all the controversies and scandals that always moved around President Donald Trump for the past four years. Starting from Twitter blasts, baseless comments, lies even endless rants and grievances.
But now, fearing the loss of Republican party, they have beginning to come out of the grip just two weeks before the election,, reports CNN.
Publicly and privately, Republicans are now beginning to distance themselves from the President. And the debate over the post-Trump Republican Party is already taking shape, with some eager to emulate his populist style of America-first, slash-and-burn politics -- and others pushing to return to a more moderate, pro-business message to woo disaffected younger voters and women who have been put off by Trump.
While Republicans brace for that debate, several influential Republicans are pleading with Trump to abruptly change his tactics in the final two weeks to zero-in on an economic message, stop downplaying the coronavirus pandemic and to quit launching attacks against his public health experts -- namely Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"I would like to see in the closing days of the campaign him prosecute the argument against the Democrats and the difference in policies," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the Republican whip, told CNN. "Stay away from personal attacks. Quit attacking the media. Quit attacking Fauci and focus on issues. ... He's got to stay disciplined to do it, and I think that's how you're going to win over the middle people."
In recent weeks, Republicans have been critical of the President and some of his policies.
GOP leaders have strongly opposed calls by Trump to pass a stimulus plan worth more than $2 trillion. Some Republicans, like Texas Sen. John Cornyn, have made clear they haven't always been on the same page with the President on issues like the national debt. And one GOP senator -- Ben Sasse of Nebraska -- launched a scathing attack about the President's treatment of women and flirtation with white supremacists, warning about the ramifications for the Republican Party in a conference call with constituents leaked to the media.
GOP senator unloads on Trump in constituent call, saying 'he mocks evangelicals' and has 'flirted with White supremacists'
"I think our party is in trouble with young people, increasingly with older people, with minorities. And those young people we were in trouble with five years ago are now voting, and so we've got some real work to do," Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, the party's 2012 presidential nominee who isn't backing Trump's reelection bid, told CNN.
Republicans in tight races, who had hoped to ride the President's coattails to victory, have little desire to align with Trump over his more incendiary attacks, including against Fauci, the respected infectious disease expert whom the President has been undermining in recent days and called a "disaster" during a call with campaign staff Monday.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has tied himself closely to Trump amid his neck-and-neck reelection bid in South Carolina, was sympathetic to the President's latest line of scorched-earth attacks against former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, because the President "has been accused of everything under the sun."
But Graham added: "I think in terms of Dr. Fauci, I trust his judgment."
Thom Tillis, a first-term senator from North Carolina and one of the most endangered Republicans, sided with the infectious disease expert when asked if he agreed that Fauci is a "disaster."
"I got a lot of confidence in Dr. Fauci," Tillis said.
Indeed, some GOP senators in difficult races are sounding a different message about the pandemic, as Trump claims that the US is "rounding the turn," despite evidence to the contrary.
"We're seeing huge spikes in Montana right now," said GOP Sen. Steve Daines, facing a tough race the state, when asked about Trump's attacks on Fauci. "We need to stay focused now in stopping this pandemic."
Given the upset that Trump pulled off in 2016, Republicans are careful not to predict that Trump will lose on November 3 -- and many say they believe he will win again. But Republicans are well aware of the narrow path he has to victory -- and how bleak the polls look for the President, who is trailing in nine of 10 states he carried four years ago, according to a CNN average of polls released Tuesday.