Donald Trump implied during that 2016 presidential campaign that if a candidate accepts the endorsement of a political figure, that candidate must then answer for the wrongs of the person endorsing him or her. Trump told us as much in December 2015 after Hillary Clinton announced that Bill Clinton would be taking to the campaign trail to help her run for the White House.
In response, Trump tweeted, "Hillary Clinton has announced that she is letting her husband out to campaign but HE'S DEMONSTRATED A PENCHANT FOR SEXISM, so inappropriate!"
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It's only fair to apply Trump's own rule to every single Republican that Trump endorses and campaigns on behalf of in this year's election and beyond. After all, Trump wouldn't want one set of rules to apply to the Clintons and another to himself, right?! (Stop laughing.)
But all snickering aside, Trump makes a valid point. If candidates do openly accept the endorsement of a well-known politician, it's certainly fair to ask those candidates where they agree and disagree with that political figure when it comes to policy issues.
For example, if a progressive Democrat running for Congress accepted the endorsement and campaigned alongside a politician who was known for opposing a woman's right to choose or wanted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the public and the media would naturally ask the candidate for a reaction to how can he or she accept the endorsement of someone with such a different view on these substantive issues.
Shouldn't candidates be called upon to answer for the baggage of any person who is out on the campaign trail with them? That information could obviously affect the way people vote.
So with Trump vowing to campaign "six or seven days a week" to help Republicans who are locked in a "difficult race," here are some suggested questions for the public and the media to ask every GOP candidate who accepts Trump's endorsement:
1. After the August 2017 white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump infamously declared that there were some "very fine people" among the group. Do you agree that people who march along with those who espouse racist and anti-Semitic views are "fine people"?
3. In 2017, after Trump's former White House aide Rob Porter was accused of being abusive to his two ex-wives, and despite photo evidence of the alleged abuse, Trump publicly praised Porter yet expressed neither support nor sympathy for the two women. Porter denied these allegations but left the White House over the controversy. Not until a week after Porter's resignation did Trump state that he is "totally opposed to domestic violence." Does this conduct by Trump disgust you, or do you condone it?
4. Do you agree with the comments Trump has made to gin up fear about undocumented Mexican immigrants, referring to some as rapists?
5. Trump endorsed Roy Moore in the Alabama race for US Senate in December despite allegations that Moore sexually abused teenage girls, one as young as 14. Are you comfortable being endorsed by the same man who endorsed Moore?
Voters deserve to know where a candidate stands on the issues. But they also are entitled to know the character of people seeking their vote. And asking every GOP candidate who accepts Trump's endorsement if he or she agrees with the President's history of bigotry, sexism and hate-filled comments will help voters make an informed decision.