Have you seen the Jimmy Kimmel Toomey ad yet?
The awkward spot that Donald Trump has put a host of Republican candidates in is hilariously spoofed in an ad Kimmel’s producers crafted (above), which shows Toomey arguing with himself about Trump.
“He’s a national embarrassment and a disgrace,” the imaginary Toomey says, “whom I am proud to support for president of the United States.”
The real-life Toomey is walking a delicate line, criticizing Trump’s behavior while leaving open the possibility that he’ll vote for him. His official posture is that he’s “waiting to be persuaded” that Trump deserves his support.
That’s a position he’s held since May. But, as revelations and accusations mount about Trump’s behavior, the calls for Toomey to take a hard stand one way or the other grow.
His opponent, Democrat Katie McGinty, takes every opportunity to tie Toomey to Trump, and to mock his professed indecision about his party’s nominee.
In McGinty’s latest web video, an announcer says “even after Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women, Toomey stood by him.”
In fact, after the video of Trump talking about groping women emerged, Toomey tweeted that Trump’s “comments were outrageous and unacceptable.” But he didn’t say he couldn’t vote for him or rule out endorsing him.
Pivoting on Trump
As I’ve followed Toomey in this campaign, it’s struck me that he’ll respond to questions about Trump when asked, but doesn’t want to talk about it more than he has to, especially in front of a microphone.
There’s just not a lot of upside: condemn Trump, and he risks the support of core Republican voters; embrace him, and he loses ground with moderates, especially women.
His people say it’s not just a political calculation, but a real dilemma of conscience. However loathsome Trump may be, is electing him worse than letting Hillary Clinton appoint Supreme Court justices and run federal regulatory agencies?
In any case, Toomey decided to address the T issue in a new ad, in which he begins by saying, “I have a lot of disagreements with Donald Trump. I’ve been very clear about that.”
Toomey then pivots to a point he often makes — that, unlike him, McGinty never criticizes her party’s nominee, which he says shows the difference between blind partisanship and independence.
“In Washington, if you don’t have some independence, some backbone, you might as well not even be there,” Toomey says in the ad.
The ad dovetails with a central theme of his campaign — that while he may be a conservative Republican, he’s an independent thinker who’ll work with Democrats and compromise to get the right thing done.
When McGinty appeared on WHYY’s Radio Times last week, host Marty Moss-Coane asked if she had any disagreements with Clinton.
“Sure, in foreign policy for example,” McGinty said. After the experience of the Iraq war, she said, she’s a person “who will bring a huge dose of caution and skepticism if there’s ever thoughts or proposals about regime change.”
When Moss-Coane asked if that meant Clinton was wrong to vote for the Iraq war in the Senate, McGinty wouldn’t say that — just that, going forward, she’d have to be convinced of any plan for regime change anywhere.
After that, she pivoted to Toomey, saying he’s “refused to come clean with voters” about Trump.