The drip, drip, drip of Republicans defecting over Donald Trump's candidacy has become a sudden deluge of party loyalists urging the Republican National Committee to withdraw funding for the faltering campaign. A total of 123 Republicans, including current and former members of Congress, cabinet members, political appointees, party officials, aides and staffers signed an open letter to Reince Priebus today. (For perspective: Rolling Stone's running tally pegged the number of existing defectors at 113 on Friday.)
The letter's authors urge the RNC chair to abandon Trump financially and put party resources fully behind down-ticket Republicans who could lose their seats over his overwhelmingly unpopular campaign. The missive is signed by two sitting members of Congress — Wisconsin's Reid Ribble and Virginia's Scott Rigell — as well as eight former Congressmen and nearly 30 former members of the Republican National Committee itself.
"We believe that Donald Trump's divisiveness, recklessness, incompetence, and record-breaking unpopularity risk turning this election into a Democratic landslide, and only the immediate shift of all available RNC resources to vulnerable Senate and House races will prevent the GOP from drowning with a Trump-emblazoned anchor around its neck," the signatories wrote.
The blistering indictment includes a list, in bullet points, of the missteps Trump has made just in the three weeks since the convention wrapped up. Among the highlights: "Suggesting that gun owners take action against his opponent if she is elected;" "reportedly expressing interest in the preemptive use of nuclear weapons;" "exposing his total ignorance of basic foreign policy matters" and "deliberately and repeatedly lying about scores of issues, large and small."
The authors go on to enumerate Trump's attacks on members of his own party, like Arizona Senator John McCain (Trump derided his military service), New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (he told a crowd in her home state that Martinez was "not doing the job") and Illinois Senator Mark Kirk (Trump called him a "loser"). They also note the facts that Trump threatened not to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan in his in primary bid and floated the idea of creating a super PAC to "go after" Republicans who withheld their support of him.
The letter also cites several polls and analyses that predict Trump could lose the election by the biggest margin in more than 30 years, noting figures that show him losing in every battleground state and grim forecasts that show Clinton within striking distance in Republican strongholds like Georgia and Arizona.
"In summary," the authors conclude, "Every dollar spent by the RNC on Donald Trump's campaign is a dollar of donor money wasted on the losing effort of a candidate who has actively undermined the GOP at every turn. ... Only swift and decisive action can save the Republican Party and protect the hundreds of other GOP candidates running for office."
Money raised through joint fundraising with the RNC made up the majority of Trump's fundraising haul in July; some $64 million of a total $80 million.
Last week, RNC spokesman Sean Spicer disputed a report that the RNC had told Trump he was reallocating party resources away from the presidential campaign. Priebus retweeted Spicer's August 11th denial. Meanwhile, the official GOP Twitter account, a Politico reader pointed out Monday, hasn't mentioned Trump or used the campaign's hashtag #TrumpPence since July 28th.
Read the full letter below: