When it comes to Donald Trump, the GOP could use more Massachusetts Governors.
Yesterday, former Massachusetts Governor and the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, offered a scathing critique of Trump’s misogyny, false business acumen, ill-informed foreign policy, and bullying behavior. He indicated that Trump’s economic policy would return the U.S. to recession and that Trump “lacks the temperament to be president.” The day before, after Donald Trump handily won the Massachusetts GOP primary by 30 plus points, our current Republican Governor stated in regards to Donald Trump, “I’m not going to vote for him in November.”
Cynics will argue that these stances came too late or that, in Romney’s case, he no longer has any skin in the game and opened the door to Trump by so publicly taking his endorsement in 2012. For Baker, re-election requires a substantial number of Massachusetts liberals and moderates come his way so distancing himself from Trump at the ballot box will surely play well to this crowd. Nothing but a political calculus.
Both these critiques miss the mark. Romney stepped out against the current Republican frontrunner whose core supporters will personally, shamefully disparage him for it. Both the Fox and MSNBC crowd eviscerated him for allegedly playing into Trump’s hands by bolstering Trump’s anti-establishment chops. So there is personal risk to Romney. And Governor Baker made firm that he would not vote for Donald Trump on the very day after Trump handily carried the Republican party that is Baker’s home. Yes, turnout was nothing like the 2014 general election contest that saw Baker elected, but the Governor not only went against national GOP grassroots’ winds – he rejected them in his own state, with his own party, right after they had spoken. Sure his approval rating is through the roof but saying “no” to Trump will cost him among the 49% of Republican Massachusetts primary voters who said “yes” to Trump.
So both Massachusetts Republican Governors did take courageous stands and these stands should be noted as such. Earlier would have undoubtedly been better, but we are still nine months from election day. And their behavior – behavior of Governors who are/were vulnerable as Republicans in a blue, blue state – is all the more compelling when compared to another Republican Governor in aqua land, Chris Christie.
The day after a revealing debate performance, it was New Jersey’s GOP Governor Christie who changed the news cycle for Trump by offering a full throttle endorsement of him. Before New Hampshire voters forced Christie’s hand out of the race, Christie said of Trump “anybody can burn a building down, but not anyone can rebuild it.” Other Christie slams of Trump included, “… what can we expect if things go sideways when you go into the Oval Office? What are you [Trump] going to do? Go upstairs to the residence and say 'I’m not playing'?
Nevertheless, Christie has since double-downed on Trump with the Super Tuesday introduction and literal backup man staging that launched a thousand internet memes. When six New Jersey papers called for Christie to resign, in part because of his Trump endorsement, Christie called a press conference and reaffirmed his support for Trump.
And let’s be clear what Christie is endorsing:
- Questioning the valor of an American Prisoner of War
- A ban on Muslims entering the United States
- Mocking a disabled reporter
- An inability to immediately and unequivocally denounce the support of David Duke
- Deceptive, for-profit colleges
- Repeated bankruptcies and business failures
- Bullying behavior of the most crude form
- A wall on the Mexican border
- Mocking the obese
- Calling Mexican immigrants rapists and other statements disparaging Latinos
Chris Christie and Charlie Baker face very similar political circumstances – Republican Governors in deeply blue Northeastern states. Mitt Romney strongly considered Christie for his presidential ticket. But when all three had to decide on a Donald Trump Presidency, at one of the last junctures where he can be derailed from the GOP nomination, only the Massachusetts men said “no.” If Trump wins, Christie is culpable as is much of the GOP establishment who clearly dislikes Trump but is too politically cautious and worried about their own political reputations/fortunes to act. Governors Baker and Romney decided quite differently.
So, yes, the GOP needs more Baker and more Romney. It needs more Massachusetts and far less Jersey.