By Alana Wise
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A senior official with the Republican National Committee on Sunday played down the prospect that the party would cut off cash and logistical support to White House nominee Donald Trump in order to shift resources toward congressional races.
Last week 70 Republicans wrote a letter urging the RNC to stop helping Trump and to focus instead on candidates for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The letter, signed by former members both of Congress and RNC staff, said Trump’s actions were “divisive and dangerous” and posed a threat to the party and the country.
Sean Spicer, RNC communications director, said in a telephone interview that abandoning Trump with nearly three months to go to the Nov. 8 election “doesn’t make logical sense.”
In October 1996 the RNC moved money from the presidential race to congressional candidates after Republican nominee Bob Dole fell far behind Democratic President Bill Clinton in opinion polls.
But Spicer said giving up on Trump could be harmful to other Republican candidates and there was still time for him to rebound in opinion polls against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“Number one, you need a strong top of the ticket. That’s number one. Number two, we’re only six points down,” Spicer said, referring to the gap that Clinton has opened up against Trump in some national polls.
Clinton led Trump by more than five percentage points in a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.
Clinton has strong leads in hotly contested states such as Pennsylvania and New Hampshire and some polls show her within a few percentage points of Trump in some states such as Georgia that normally lean strongly Republican.
Any discussions of cutting off funds to Trump in August would be “ridiculous,” Spicer said.
Trump has polarized the party with his vow to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and his plan to impose a temporary ban on Muslims seeking to enter the country.
Trump has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for a prolonged feud with the Muslim family of a fallen U.S. Army captain and his assertion last week that President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had co-founded the Islamic State militant group.
(Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Caren Bohan and Howard Goller)