Trump’s Endorsement of Roy Moore Points Up a G.O.P. Problem: Chaos

President Trump himself largely dictates whom to back and how to support his preferred candidates.

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s sudden decision on Monday to endorse Roy S. Moore and direct the Republican National Committee to restore funding for the embattled Senate candidate in Alabama undercut party officials who have disavowed him.

But it did not surprise them.

Mr. Trump’s improvisational, and often impulsive, political decision making has become so routine that Republican leaders now accept that there will be days when he suddenly endorses and telephones candidates, including one accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

On Tuesday, Senate leaders appeared dismayed about — but also resigned to — being linked to Mr. Moore’s candidacy. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, conceded that he could not stop Mr. Moore, a former state judge, from being seated if he won the special election next Tuesday. But in an illustration of how uneasy Senate Republicans are about Mr. Moore joining their ranks, Mr. McConnell pointedly said that if Mr. Moore was elected, “he would immediately have an issue with the Ethics Committee.”

While the Republican National Committee resumed financial assistance to Mr. Moore, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has more direct responsibility for such campaigns, noticeably did not.

And Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, one of the president’s fiercest Republican critics, publicly broadcast an image of the check that he wrote to the campaign of Doug Jones, Mr. Moore’s Democratic opponent.

As the party prepares for a midterm election that could bring a fierce backlash against a historically unpopular president, Republicans are growing more alarmed that a difficult race could be made worse without some semblance of planning to avert more discord.

Some top party officials say they are worried that the political environment may prove punishing enough to cost Republicans control of the House.

But an organization that can fend off such a landslide does not appear in the offing. In a departure from every modern White House, Mr. Trump himself largely dictates whom to back and how to support his preferred candidates. Even before tensions between the president and Senate Republicans flared back up over Mr. Moore’s candidacy, there was little regular communication between West Wing officials and Republicans overseeing the 2018 races, Republicans say.

The scheduled meetings between the White House, the Republican National Committee and the House and Senate campaign committees stopped months ago. Congressional officials find it difficult to get presidential signoffs for even small requests like using Mr. Trump’s name in direct-mail appeals, according to party officials. And less than a month until the election year begins, he has not scheduled a single fund-raiser for a candidate running for the House, Senate or governor.

Raj Shah, a White House spokesman, did not address the specifics of the relationship between the administration and the party, but said, “The president has led the R.N.C. toward record-breaking fund-raising, helped the party go 5-0 in special elections, and is leading the effort to elect Republican candidates running for office up and down the ballot.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, conceded that he could not stop Roy S. Moore from being seated if he won the Senate election in Alabama next week.

Some top strategists involved with the midterm elections, including officials with the pre-eminent Republican Senate “super PAC,” say they have yet to set foot in the White House for political planning sessions. A Trump adviser insisted that meetings were taking place, but said that for legal reasons, they were not happening at the White…


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