When lawmakers in Congress left Washington, D.C. for their summer break, there was a lot of talk about how the GOP would be using the August break to rally Republican voters back home on a number of policy fronts, looking ahead to a series of fall battles with Democrats and President Obama.
Then came Donald Trump.
Instead of Tea Party style protests against the President’s nuclear deal with Iran, or demands to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the news focus in Republican circles has been the GOP race for the White House.
And Donald Trump.
On abortion, Trump has certainly not echoed the core Republican message; for example, on Planned Parenthood, he said this week that he is not looking to get rid of all federal funding for the group.
That drew attacks from other conservatives in the GOP.
Trump also differs with some leading Republicans on another abortion issue, as he supports anti-abortion laws with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.
On Iran, while Trump has denounced the deal worked out by the Obama Administration, he hasn’t galvanized opposition to the agreement; instead, his declarations are mainly about how he would have done it.
“My Iran nuclear deal would have been 100 times better,” Trump has said.
So, instead of maybe helping the Republican push on Iran and abortion, Trump has been saving his biggest salvos – not for Hillary Clinton – but for other GOP candidates running for President.
This was his latest jab at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Wednesday.
Other Republicans wanted to use the August break also to gin up opposition to Speaker John Boehner, in hopes of forcing a vote after Labor Day to push him out.
But talk of a coup against Boehner has fizzled since Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced a resolution to force out the Speaker; only three other Republicans have signed on to that plan.
Meadows said he hoped his resolution would spark a “discussion” about Boehner’s future, but for now, few Republicans seem to be having that discussion in public – and certainly not Trump.
Almost halfway into August, there is no evidence of a groundswell in favor of Republicans on Iran, Planned Parenthood or a push to get Speaker Boehner a new job.
But there is ample evidence that one Republican brand is rising above all others.
His name is Donald Trump.