Yesterday many Republicans expressed shock — shock! — at Donald Trump’s call for a total and “[…] complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” With this latest outrage some prominent Republicans repudiated the remarks, among them candidate Jeb Bush went so far as to call Trump “unhinged.”
Such repudiations are long overdue but perhaps a bit odd given Bush’s own near unhinged call, made after the Paris attacks, to screen out all Mideast refugees coming to the US who are not Christians.
But a Republican strategist recommends candidates stake out Trump turf. In September a Republican memo on how to deal with Trump and his supporters suggested the following strategy “Trump will continue to advance those messages, but you don’t have to go along with his more extreme positioning,” [NRSC head Ward] Baker writes. “Instead, you should stake out turf in the same issue zone and offer your own ideas.”
Ted Cruz has his own idea in that issue zone and it may please Vermont’s own Phil Scott. Earlier, along with Scott, Bruce Lisman suggested a ban on allowing Syrian refugees into Vermont and both expressed worries about the thoroughness of the Federal vetting process for immigrants fleeing war zones. A gaggle of Republican governors expressed similar fear, all using almost identical language. Phil Scott was briefed by security officials and he claimed to be reassured for now.
But Ted Cruz‘s Trump-light legislation seems designed with these exaggerated fears in mind. Cruz wants to allow governors to refuse to participate in resettlement programs if they, “[…] conclude that the federal government has not done a sufficient job ensuring that the safety and security of the citizens of the state will be protected.” Cruz’s position might please Scott if he once again questions security.
For now Scott firmly twittered his criticism of Trump’s latest remark but he seems basically aligned with Cruz’s legislation. This is the Trump/Cruz issue zone, a dark-alley, Constituion-free twilight zone that Scott and Lisman have already peeked into. Would Phil Scott want the Cruz legislation to use as governor?
And more tellingly, would Scott admit it if he did, or just ride Cruz’s coattails on legislation that recalls some of the worst excesses of right wing fanatics?