David French: Trump’s Doing Something to the ‘American Body Politic that Is Very Very Negative’
CHUCK TODD: But I want to go back to this issue because it feels as if, if there were simply a debate about conservatism versus populism it would be one thing. But it’s Trump’s character, Dan, that sort of, frankly, complicates the debate for the right.
DAN BALZ: Well, it does. Although I think there’s two problems that the Republican party has or two different debates that they’re having. There’s the debate that was occurring pre-Donald Trump which was in a sense kind of the Ted Cruz view of the world versus the Marco Rubio view of the world.
Do we need a hard-line conservative to carry our banner? Or do we need to have something that someone who reaches out and expands the coalition? That debate got smothered in 2016 by Donald Trump who brought in populism. And so you now have this multiple clash within the party. And Trump’s behavior, Trump’s style, Trump’s operating style changes the way a lot of people think about all of those aspects.
HEATHER MCGHEE: I think that Senator Flake has done a great service actually to the debate. I think that what he’s doing right now is extremely important. You know, he says, “We, the Republican Party, created Donald Trump.” I think that his diagnoses are spot on. I think his prescription about what to do about it is cosmetic. I mean, he says, you know, basically that Donald Trump is now a threat to Republicans, only the Congress can save him, stop him, and then he just falls a little bit short.
CHUCK TODD: David, what should he do? You’re still voting with him. Is he a threat or not? If you’re character issues, when does the Trump ideology—last word.
DAVID FRENCH: Well, you know, every one of us who’s a conservative, I view you praise him when he’s right, you critique when he’s wrong. But you make the overall larger critique that something is very broken in our political culture. And he’s a big part of that. And so you can vote for lower tax rates. But don’t lose sight of the bigger picture which says Donald Trump is doing something to American body politic that is very, very negative.
DAN BALZ: I mean, one aspect—
CHUCK TODD: All right, I’m going to have to make that the last thought. I promise we’re going to get into this on the other side.