Donald Trump v. Charles Koch!

Dear Commons Community,

A rift has developed between Donald Trump and the Koch brothers over trade policy and immigration and has now spilled over into a public feud. By calling Mr. Trump’s trade policies “detrimental” and denouncing divisive leadership, Mr. Koch is making a provocative political move that — be it hardball strategy or more of a ploy — threatens to complicate Republican efforts to hold on to their slim congressional majorities in the November midterm elections.

Mr. Trump hit back yesterday by attacking Mr. Koch; his ailing brother and business partner, David; and the powerful political network they founded as “totally overrated” and “a total joke in real Republican circles.”

 “I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” Mr. Trump fumed on Twitter in an early morning series of posts. And several Republicans, including some allies of the Kochs, accused them of self-aggrandizement.  As reported by the New York Times:

“The back-and-forth between the two men began with threats from Mr. Koch and his top political aides over the weekend to withhold support for Republican candidates who do not help enact the free trade, budget-slashing, government-shrinking policies that have always been at the center of the Koch political philosophy but are of little interest to the president. The Koch network has said it plans to spend up to $400 million on politics and policy in the 2018 election cycle.

In a video released to the media during a Koch network retreat in Colorado Springs on Saturday, Mr. Koch was unsparing in his criticism of the kind of nationalist, protectionist trade policies that the president favors. And while he did not mention Mr. Trump’s name, at times he appeared to be speaking directly about the president and many of his supporters.

Mr. Koch denounced a “rise in protectionism” in which countries, organizations and individuals are “doing whatever they can to close themselves off from the new, hold on to the past, and prevent change.”

“This is a natural tendency,” Mr. Koch added, “but it’s a destructive one.”

A Koch endorsement and the accompanying advertising and on-the-ground campaign support that often follows can help swing close races. Koch groups like Americans for Prosperity were built to be vehicles for the conservative grass-roots, even if they rely heavily on paid staff to do their work. And their emphasis on cutting spending, regulations and the size of the government helped elevate fiscal issues to the forefront of the Tea Party-inspired revolts that helped Republicans take control of the House of Representatives in 2010.

That Mr. Koch is being harshly critical of a president beloved by the conservative grass roots, while at the same time endorsing a strategy that could help cost Republicans seats in a close election, struck some activists as strange.”

It is my sense that Trump and Koch will mend their differences before November.



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