Despite loud calls to fire campaign manager Corey Lewandowski after he was charged with misdemeanor battery, Donald Trump strongly defended him and voiced serious doubts about his accuser.Lewandowski will stay on, we're told, even if he's found guilty:
... Trump addressed allegations corroborated by police that Lewandowski yanked the arm of a female reporter at an event in Florida on March 8 as she tried to question the candidate.
... "If you look at her she's actually grabbing me," Trump told reporters. "She was running up and grabbing and asking questions and she wasn't supposed to be doing that."
Trump said that he believed Lewandowski was innocent and "should never settle this case." The billionaire added that he had no plans to fire Lewandowski, and questioned whether the bruises on Fields' arm had been a result of her altercation with Lewandowski.
"How do you know those bruises weren't there before?" Trump said. "I'm not a lawyer. She said she had a bruise on her arm. I mean, to me, if you're going to get squeezed, wouldn't you think that she would have yelled out a scream or something, if she has bruises on her arm?"
Katrina Pierson, Donald Trump's national spokeswoman, said Tuesday that embattled top aide Corey Lewandowski would stay with the campaign even if he's convicted of a criminal battery charge in Florida.This is making me think about the guy who used to be the Republican base's favorite Northeastern bully: Chris Christie. It's widely assumed that Christie's future as a national Republican star was snuffed out by Bridgegate. That's true, but it's not really because of what happened on the roads during Bridgegate.
When CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked if Lewandowski would stay with the campaign even if he was convicted of a misdemeanor for allegedly roughing up a reporter, Pierson replied "yes" without hesitation.
"Yes, absolutely. Mr. Lewandowski is an integral part of the team, the camp wholeheartedly supports him and will see him through the ordeal," she said.
I'm think Republican voters might well have forgiven Christie for Bridgegate if it hadn't transformed him from a Trumpesque verbal abuser into a cowering wimp, a guy who actually apologized for something he and his administration did.
Sounding somber and appearing contrite, the normally garrulous Mr. Christie said he had no advance knowledge of the lane closings and had been “humiliated” by the entire episode.If he'd been defiant -- if he'd insisted that no apologies were necessary and the whole thing was a partisan witch hunt ... well, sure, he might have infuriated prosecutors so much that he'd be looking at prison time now. But if he'd remained defiant and managed to avoided being indicted himself, he might still be the right-wing hero he used to be back when he was being nasty to schoolteachers in video clips.
“I am a very sad person today,” he said. “I am heartbroken that someone I permitted to be in that circle of trust for the past five years betrayed that trust.”
It's said that Christie couldn't survive Bridgegate because Bridgegate hurt ordinary people in a way rank-and-file voters can relate to. But the Trump campaign reminds us that GOP rank-and-file voters don't care if you do something awful as long as they like you. Remember when we were told that voters would turn against Trump once he insulted John McCain or the Pope, or once they learned that he'd used eminent domain against ordinary homeowners? These things rolled off Trump's back -- just the way Bridgegate would have rolled off Christie's if he somehow could have dug in his heels and stayed out of jail.
Christie said nice things about President Obama after Sandy. Then he said mistakes were made in Bridgegate, which weakened him. Then he spent a year as head of the Republican Governors Association trying to trade favors in advance of the presidential race when he should have been upping his bullying game. And that's why Trump is king of the hill and Christie is trying to be his valet.