The White House still has leaks and an audio recording of a private meeting Saturday between a pair of top Republicans and their audience was handed over to the New York Times by an insider who attended, according to the media outlet. Several comments by two Republican leaders, Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman and Mick Mulvaney, the federal budget director, can reportedly be heard on the tape.
But what was puzzling in regards to the content were comments from Mr. Mulvaney about Trump’s frequent lack of recollection about why Roy Moore, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, lost the crucial election for Alabama Republican Senator to Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate.
That fact seems highly unusual, especially when the president broke with leading Republicans and gave his support to Moore’s controversial candidacy. The event was highly-publicized, and some Republicans such as Mitch McConnell had even called for Moore to remove himself from the race.
Moore, if you recall, is the Alabama Republican Senate candidate accused of sexually assaulting one teenager and molesting a 14-year-old girl. Back in 2017, President Trump said the following about it, “[Mr. Moore] totally denies it.”
The New York Times previously released an anonymous op-ed penned by a top administration official that painted an out-of-control president that’s out of his depth, held in check from his “worst inclinations” only by his experienced senior officials. The recording feels like deja vu in several aspects when you consider the op-ed, and they wrote that Mulvaney and McDaniel gave an “unusually raw assessment” of the Republican party’s strengths and weaknesses in the midterm elections on the tape.
On the other hand, like the op-ed, the recording also contains unflattering assessments about President Trump in addition to discussions about GOP strategy. For instance, Mr. Mulvaney is heard discussing Donald Trump “frequently” being stumped about Roy Moore’s election loss. Mulvaney additionally opined about why Roy Moore lost the seat Jeff Sessions vacated during the meeting.
The discussion about candidate quality being a consideration for who will win the race for Senate in Florida and Texas opened Mulvaney’s discussion about Moore and the president, with Mr. Mulvaney saying that a candidate’s likability will be a key factor in voter’s minds in the upcoming midterm elections.
“There’s a very real possibility we will win a race for Senate in Florida and lose a race in Texas for Senate, O.K. I don’t think it’s likely, but it’s a possibility. How likable is a candidate? That still counts.”
To that end, the federal budget director reminded everyone in the meeting about the stunning defeat in the special election of Republican Roy Moore by Democratic Senator, Doug Jones.
The defeat was particularly crushing because the state is the eighth most Republican state in the U.S., according to a Gallup Poll. Meanwhile, it also illustrates how voters can turn against candidates they strongly dislike. This effect happened in cases such as Roy Moore’s where, up until the final weeks, he was expected to be a shoo-in to beat his opponent.
Mr. Mulvaney said on the secret recording that President Trump asks him all the time, “Why did Roy Moore lose?'” To which he says he responds with, “That’s easy. He was a terrible candidate.” Mulvaney also said on the tape that there’s a great deal of hatred when it comes to President Trump and that Ted Cruz may lose his bid for re-election to the Senate because he doesn’t come across as “likable enough” to the voters.
However, in recent polls, Ted Cruz’s democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke is shown trailing behind him. When asked what he thought about Mr. Mulvaney’s assessment of his race, Cruz’s answer was dismissive.
“I don’t worry about what some political guy in Washington says. I worry about what the people of Texas say.”