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For GOP, every day spent defusing Trump is time away from attacking Clinton

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    For more on Donald Trump’s campaign for the White House, I’m joined by Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, and Reid Wilson, chief political correspondent for the Morning Consult.

    And welcome back to both of you.

    So, let’s pick up the conversation, Reid, about Donald Trump, all this focus for days after days now about what he said about this judge of Mexican heritage. How much damage has been done?

  • REID WILSON, Morning Consult:

    Well, not only has he done more damage to his own campaign. He’s doing damage now to the rest of the Republican Party.

    The Republican Party has spent years trying to rebuild relationships with the Hispanic community in particular. George W. Bush got 44 percent of the Hispanic vote when he won reelection in 2004. Mitt Romney got 27 percent of the vote. It’s the fastest-growing minority group in America. Republicans need to make those inroads.

    Donald Trump is busy erasing all of the inroads that have been made. And it’s starting to impact down-ballot Republicans across the country. The Des Moines Register today takes Senator Chuck Grassley to task for not having -gone – having repudiated Donald Trump’s comments, saying that they had seen better spines on invertebrates.

    So, this is starting to infect the entire party, and that’s the real danger in Donald Trump’s comments.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How do you see this, Susan? How long-lasting is this?

  • SUSAN PAGE, USA Today:

    Well, you know, we have been talking about divisions in the Democratic Party and whether Bernie Sanders will embrace Hillary Clinton.

    The divisions in the Democratic Party are nothing compared to the civil war that is brewing in the Republican Party.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Civil war?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    The civil war.

    We had the top-ranking Republican of the United States, the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, say that the party’s presidential nominee was making racist statements. This is an extraordinary situation, and not resolved.

    We saw Donald Trump try to be more restrained last night, when he talked with the benefit of a teleprompter, kind of a different message than he’s had before. But the test will be, over the time of this campaign, over the next six weeks, before the convention, can he keep that more moderate tone?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And we heard — Reid, we heard Donald Trump — or we read today that he said he was disappointed that these Republican leaders are being critical of him.

    How does something like this get repaired?

  • REID WILSON:

    And he is disappointed that his comments have been misconstrued. I find it hard to imagine how the comments were misconstrued. He was pretty clear about what he said.

    I think that how this gets repaired depends on how professionally Donald Trump’s campaign is going to be run. He ran this primary campaign on a sort of seat-of-his-pants basis, these big mega-rallies, without the sorts of sort of blocking and tackling that are required to run a professional, modern presidential campaign.

    If Trump isn’t going to build that kind of modern campaign, I don’t think these things can be repaired.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Where do you see this going, Susan? Is this the kind of thing that just — is just going to have legs as long as the — there’s oxygen to support it?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    Well, as long as Donald Trump is at center stage. And he’s going to be at center stage for the rest of this year, until Election Day. You know, he’s going to be the face of the Republican Party.

    Other Republicans are going to have to either embrace him or distance themselves from him. And every day they spend doing that is a day they don’t attack Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Every day that goes on, it makes it less likely that Republicans will be able to hold control of the Senate, for instance, even longer shot, get control of the House.

    So, I think that Republicans — some senior Republicans are now looking at this and trying to figure out, how can we not only be competitive in a presidential race, but avoid longer-lasting damage down the ballot and in years to come?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Right.

    Reid, we showed a clip of Donald Trump last night saying he was appealing to Bernie Sanders supporters in this election. What do people think is there? Is that really something that could happen?

  • REID WILSON:

    Every four years, I feel like we get to this point in the election where we talk about how deeply divided one party is and how one party’s candidate — voters might go and vote for the other party’s candidate in protest.

    It never really happens. Even today, we have got close to 90 percent of Republican voters saying they will vote for Donald Trump, about 85 percent of Democratic voters saying they will vote for Hillary Clinton. Once there is a clear contrast between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, those partisan voters will largely come home.

    I think the notion of appealing — Donald Trump appealing to Bernie Sanders voters is fanciful at best.

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    You know, I actually think there is one way in which there could be some overlap there, where Donald Trump could in fact appeal to Bernie Sanders voters, in that there are some voters who are just so eager for change, so disgusted with the way the system works now, that they might have supported Bernie Sanders.

    Now, they might be open to a Trump appeal. I mean, that’s the tantalizing thing for Republicans. There are some strengths that Donald Trump could bring to a presidential campaign, an ability to appeal to some voters that Republicans haven’t traditionally gotten. The question is, does he wash that away with some of his more provocative statements?

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Very quickly, finally, to both of you, I asked Hillary Clinton about the Donald Trump threat really to bring out new information, damaging information about the Clinton Foundation.

    Is that something she should be worried about?

  • REID WILSON:

    I don’t think so. Hillary Clinton has been in the public spotlight for 25 years. What is there new? Who is undecided about Hillary Clinton and whether or not they have favorable impression?

    I think a lot of these attacks are going to be the same things that Republicans have tried for a very long time, and they haven’t worked.

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    It does reinforce, though, her biggest vulnerability. Do you trust her? Is she honest? And so, in that way, it goes to a weakness that she’s going to have to face in the months to come.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Susan Page, Reid Wilson, thank you.

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    Thank you.

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