Dumping Donald Trump now, after months of controversy, just shows down-ballot candidates are desperate to get on the right side of polls, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told me during a briefing on Thursday.
During a speech in Las Vegas four days ago, President Barack Obama said Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Rep. Joe Heck's "disendorsement" of Trump on Oct. 8 was "too late" and led the crowd in chants of "Heck, no."
At the regular briefing for White House reporters, I asked what President Obama felt was the right time for a Republican candidate to have abandoned Trump.
Regarding Obama's remarks on Heck's "disendorsement" of Trump coming "too late," Earnest said, "The president made a powerful case in terms of indicating his frustration with Congressman Heck and other Republican Congress members who seem to be more motivated by poll numbers than the actual offensive comments of the Republican nominee.
"After all, there were a whole litany of controversial comments that were made by the Republican nominee that didn't prompt Congressman Heck and others to change their position," he explained.
The president's top spokesman went on to say that "it was only after the string of those controversial comments started to have an impact on the nominee's poll numbers and poll numbers of Republicans further down the ballot, that we started to see some Republicans change their position."
In Heck's case, however, the polls indicate just the opposite.
Where Heck led Democratic opponent Catherine Cortez Masto in virtually all polls before breaking with Trump on Oct. 8, a just-completed CNN/ORC survey showed Cortez Masto leading Heck 52 percent to 45 percent, and an 8 News Now (Las Vegas) poll showed her leading by 40 percent to 35 percent.
But Earnest insists that denouncing "disendorsers-come-lately" is a tactic President Obama will pursue in the closing days of the campaign.
"I think you can expect him to continue making that case to the country in the days up to the election," he said.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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