Distancing from Trump? Some Republicans step up critiques

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FILE - In this June 17, 2020, file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. For more than three years, President Donald Trump instilled such fear in the Republican Party's leaders that most kept criticism of his turbulent leadership or inconsistent politics to themselves. That's beginning to change. While Trump avoids wearing a mask in public, McConnell said facial coverings are really important until a vaccine is found. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON – For more than three years, President Donald Trump instilled such fear in the Republican Party's leaders that most kept criticism of his turbulent leadership or inconsistent politics to themselves.

That's beginning to change.

Four months before voters decide the Republican president's reelection, some in Trump's party are daring to say the quiet part out loud as Trump struggles to navigate competing national crises and a scattershot campaign message.

“He is losing,” former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump friend and confidant, said Sunday of Trump’s reelection prospects on ABC’s “This Week.” “And if he doesn’t change course, both in terms of the substance of what he’s discussing and the way that he approaches the American people, then he will lose.”

Beyond politics, Trump's allies — even some in his own administration — are distancing themselves from his policies.

While Trump avoids wearing a mask in public, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “We must have no stigma — none — about wearing masks when we leave our homes.” Vice President Mike Pence was pictured this weekend wearing a mask and urged other Americans to do the same. And Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in the House, tweeted a picture of her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, wearing a mask with the hashtag #realmenwearmasks.

At the same time, Trump has been criticized by some Republicans for inconsistent leadership during the sweeping national protests against police brutality. On Sunday, the president tweeted and subsequently deleted a video in which a supporter used the white supremacist mantra “White power.”

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the GOP’s sole Black senator, called Trump’s decision to share the video “indefensible.”