Donald Trump's latest attacks against U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel have left his party grappling with buyer's remorse with five agonizing months left until the November election.
Just weeks after clinching the nomination, Trump has doubled down on his divisive rhetoric, most recently ignoring calls from GOP leaders to back off of his racially-charged comments about Curiel's "Mexican" heritage and work to unite the party.
Republican lawmakers seem to be caught in an awkward dance– clinging to their endorsements on one hand all the while criticizing their nominee. Just last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) finally lent his support to Trump. By Tuesday he was at a podium condemning him.
"Claiming a person can't do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment," Ryan said at a news conference in Southeast D.C. "I'm not going to defend these kinds of comments because they're indefensible."
Trump's supporters, however, have stopped short of withdrawing their support for their nominee. They sharply jab Trump, but resist abandoning him. Whether they persist in doing that delicate dance until November is an open question.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) who is running for re-election told Politico that he didn't agree with Trump's comments, but he that wouldn't stop him from endorsing him.
“If they were inconsistent with things we’ve seen up to this point in the election, I would tell you it might. But I think we’re all sort of used to remarks being made that we don’t expect," Politico reported Burr said.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), who is also running for re-election, re-upped her own opaque position on Trump.
“I felt that his comments were wrong and offensive, and I’ve urged him to retract them," Ayotte said, according to Politico, before adding “I’m running my race and focusing on the people of New Hampshire. I’ve said he’s our nominee; I plan to vote for him, but I’m not endorsing.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) reiterated that he planned to run "a very independent campaign," according to the Associated Press.
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