On Sunday, amidst the network coverage of the universal condemnation surrounding Donald Trump’s attack on John McCain’s military service, during an appearance on NBC's Today, Chuck Todd did his best to play up how the GOP was “desperate for this moment” when they could call out the Republican presidential candidate.
After the NBC News Political Director detailed how other Republicans saw Trump’s comments as the perfect opportunity to “marginalize” the billionaire, Todd proclaimed this to be “the beginning of the end of the marriage between Donald Trump and the Republican Party.”
Later on, co-host Erica Hill fantasized about Trump running as a third party candidate, especially if the GOP “continues to distance itself” from him, and she asked would he “continue to really inflict a little bit of pain on the Republican Party?”
Despite universal condemnation from the Republican Party, Todd argued that Trump could in fact "inflict a lot of pain on the Republican Party." The Meet the Press moderator maintained that Trump would “continue to be a viable protest vehicle for voters that are sort of fed up with sort Washington politics and that would hurt any Republican nominee.”
Despite the two NBCers doing their best to hype the alleged the “pain” Trump running as a third party candidate could cause the GOP, Todd eventually admitted he doesn’t see such a scenario as very likely:
One thing about Trump, usually he likes to take shortcuts to get to where he is and that's why I don't think he would actually follow through with the full-fledged third party candidacy.
On ABC, Good Morning America host Paula Faris struck a similar tone to that of Todd when she asked if Trump’s attack on McCain will give the GOP a “chance to drive Trump to the sidelines?”
In her response, This Week fill-in host Martha Raddatz stressed how the GOP saw Trump’s comments as an opportunity to silence the presidential candidate:
I think the Republican Party probably does. There have been statements from the Republican National Committee as well, and they have come together and have said these are completely inappropriate comments. So I think some people will try to step in and say, wait, wait, what about me, I'm moderate. And you’ve got Rick Perry, who's also a veteran, asking for Trump to step aside.
See relevant transcripts below.
July 19, 2015
ERICA HILL: Chuck Todd is moderator of Meet the Press, joins us this morning from Washington. Chuck, good morning.
CHUCK TODD: Good morning Erica.
HILL: The New York Post, perhaps not surprising, wasting no time here. Their cover this morning is, there we go “Don Voyage!” And yet, we know Trump doesn't follow a traditional narrative when it comes to campaigning, or frankly anything. So as much as there's all this talk about whether or not he’s toast and this is a fatal blow for the campaign, does Donald Trump really care or does he just keep going?
TODD: I think, look, the history of Trump is he doesn't care. He'll keep going whatever that means. But what we saw yesterday and we learned is that the Republican Party has been desperate for this moment. The Republican candidates not named Donald Trump have been looking for a moment to do what they did yesterday which is find an easy way to marginalize him.
And when they saw him attack McCain and his military service that became an easy thing to pounce on. There wasn't this fear of alienating his conservative supporters because this is sort of a universal thing when it comes to military service. So, I do think it's the beginning of the end of the marriage between Donald Trump and the Republican Party. That means this is the end of the Trump running for president? No. But I think you’re going to see this huge push to continue collectively to get him out of the party.
HILL: So as the party continues to distance itself, as you said though this may not be the end of him as a candidate. If he does decide to run as a third party, does he continue to really inflict a little bit of pain on the Republican Party?
TODD: He could inflict a lot of pain on the Republican Party. The people he's drawing from right now who are -- the group of voters that are supporting Trump, and I've talked to some of them, it has nothing to do with Donald Trump and his competence or incompetence and it has everything to do with protesting Washington, D.C., and protesting sort of the establishment of the Republican Party.
So, look, he could continue to be a viable protest vehicle for voters that are sort of fed up with sort Washington politics and that would hurt any Republican nominee. The question is, is he -- is he actually so focused that he, it is hard work to run as an independent to get on all the ballots. One thing about Trump, usually he likes to take shortcuts to get to where he is and that's why I don't think he would actually follow through with the full-fledged third party candidacy.
ABC’s Good Morning America
July 19, 2015
DAN HARRIS: Let's stay on this story and go down to Washington now and ABC's Martha Raddatz who will be hosting "This Week" later this morning. Martha, you saw the cover of the New York Post. The New York Times is also saying this morning that this will, and I'm quoting here, “probably mark the moment where Trump's candidacy went from boom to bust.” So what's the sense in Washington, can he survive this?
MARTHA RADDATZ: Well, I think you just have to look again at those comments that Cecilia went through right there and remember, John McCain's service. He said that he's only a war hero, said Donald Trump, because he was captured, I think it would be pretty hard for John McCain not to be captured. He was shot down, I think he was on his 28th bombing mission over North Vietnam, broke both legs as he ejected from his fighter aircraft. Broke an arm. He was tortured, as Cecilia said, held 5 1/2 years. So all of those comments are saying, it's not just about John McCain, it's also about veterans, and we still have a lot of service members out there fighting on the battlefields, around the world.
HARRIS: The criticism from the Republican Party has been much sharper on this one than on Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants. Do you think the party views this as a chance to drive Trump to the sidelines?
RADDATZ: I think the Republican Party probably does. There have been statements from the Republican National Committee as well, and they have come together and have said these are completely inappropriate comments. So I think some people will try to step in and say, wait, wait, what about me, I'm moderate. And you’ve got Rick Perry, who's also a veteran, asking for Trump to step aside.
HARRIS: Trump is not known for backing down. Do we think we'll maybe see an apology on this one?
RADDATZ: Boy, we haven't seen one yet, Dan. So I don't know whether we’ll see an apology or not. He really doubled down after making those comments which surprised a lot of people. We'll have to wait and see if there's any apology forthcoming. I just can't predict that.