Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is advising his fellow Republican senators to focus on their own races and avoid the controversy in presidential nominee Donald Trump's campaign, GOP sources told The Hill.
"We're advising the same thing we have all along. Run your own race. That has put us in the good position that we're in overall. Everybody is listening to people in their state," a Senate GOP aide said.
Internal polling was not yet available to tell Republicans about any damage Trump's lewd comments in 2005 about women has caused to individual races, the aide said. Trump has apologized for the statements he made in the video.
McConnell, who would be demoted to Senate minority leader if Democrats gain the majority, did not discuss the controversy during a chamber of commerce lunch in his home state of Kentucky. He told the audience, "I don't have any observations about it."
House Speaker Paul Ryan has made known his displeasure about the Trump comments known. However, Ryan and McConnell have not broken from Trump, since they would require votes from Trump supporters, according to The Hill.
GOP sources told The Hill that McConnell does not want to create problems for his fellow Senate Republicans, who appear split on whether to keep supporting Trump or to pull back.
Over in the House, Republican strategists believe that Trump has put the House GOP majority in jeopardy, which would require Democrats to gain 30 seats there. Republicans are more concerned about the Senate, where the GOP is defending 24 seats and the Democrats are only defending 10. If Democrats net four seats, they will gain control.
Some Republicans have distanced themselves from Trump, including Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and South Dakota Sen. John Thune.
Arizona Sen. John McCain and Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for the Senate in Nevada, said they would not vote for the real-estate mogul, according to The Hill.
Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida condemned Trump's remarks, but did not withdraw his support.
Some in the GOP are staying in Trump's camp, including Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr, who are both vulnerable incumbents, according to The Hill.
A GOP strategist told the Hill that voters' concerns about the economy would be a factor in battleground states and Republicans see him as more likely to improve the economy.
"The question is, who can fix the problems? It's certainly not someone who's been there for 30 years and hasn't been successful in doing anything about it and arguably made it worse," the strategist said, referring to Clinton's tenure as a politician.
MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough warned that rebuking Trump could backfire for some politicians. "For the Republican base, Donald Trump delivered the attack against the Clinton machine that the Republican base and middle America have been waiting for, for years now, so good luck being in Pensacola, Florida saying, ‘Hey, I'm off of Donald Trump,'" Scarborough said.
A Democratic Senate campaign committee released a video tying Republican lawmakers to Trump, which includes some that have since criticized his remarks.
Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada rebuked Republicans for not dropping Trump, saying, "What is it going to take for Republicans to discover even the barest modicum of decency and respect?"
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