North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr hopes to win re-election to the high chamber of the U.S. Congress, and for a while it appeared he’d get a third term fairly easily. But then a newly minted Republican elephant strolled into the room by the name of Donald Trump. If Burr’s campaign isn’t worried, GOP presidential nominee Trump is doing his best to see that it should be.
Burr is chairman of the prestigious Intelligence Committee and a minister’s son from Winston-Salem with an affable manner. He hasn’t done much in the Senate, it’s true, and he is most certainly a right-winger in ideology. But he projects a competent image.
His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Deborah Ross, is an Ivy League-educated former head of the state American Civil Liberties Union who’s a liberal. An easy victory for Burr?
Unfortunately for the senator, Ross has proved a tougher opponent than Burr figured. And recently, Burr’s “Trump problem” escalated. In Wilmington, no less, Trump started running on about gun rights and warned his crowd that his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, wanted to abolish the Second Amendment.
“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Trump told the Wilmington faithful. Then he said, “Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is, I don’t know.”
Though Trump’s campaign tried to cast the comment as having a different meaning, it wasn’t working. The nominee clearly implied a threat to the president of the United States (assuming Clinton was that president) from “Second Amendment people,” presumably meaning gun owners. This was an outrageous comment from someone who has made one after another.
There was Trump’s recent criticism of a Gold Star family, the Khans. Prior to that, his endorsement of the Russian hacking of Secretary Clinton’s email. His advocacy of waterboarding and more for prisoners held by America. His ridicule and imitation of a physically disabled reporter.
Burr praised the Khans and said he was “surprised” by the Second Amendment comment. But the senator, who supports Trump, has mostly ducked responding to outrageous comments from his party’s standard bearer. .
Burr shouldn’t be sitting back to make a political calculation about the perils or benefits of de-endorsing Trump. There is only one choice: Repudiate Trump, once and for all.