For eight years, Republicans in Congress had to contend with Barack Obama, a hostile president who could draw large crowds and undermined them at every turn. Not much has changed with one of their own in the White House, many of them complain.
President Trump has fingered fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill for criticism just as often, if not more, than he has opposition Democrats, spurning the political role of party leader and party builder traditionally assumed by the commander in chief.
That detachment has saddled Republicans with the burdens of White House power that are foisted upon political parties in midterm elections, while denying them many of the crucial benefits — fundraising and organization chief among them.
This development has strained relations between Trump and the Republican congressional committees, the foremost GOP campaign organizations charged with holding the House and Senate majorities in 2018.
“He’s certainly pursuing a different model,” said a Republican operative who worked in the White House under President George W. Bush and requested anonymity in order to speak candidly. “If he’s not careful, he’s going to help Democrats take over one or both chambers. This is galactically stupid.”
Trump hasn’t been totally inactive.
This year, he headlined a fundraiser for the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House GOP campaign arm, that brought in a record $30 million. His email and hard mail fundraising appeals for the Republican National Committee have been wildly lucrative.
Through a spate of special House elections held in the spring, Trump recorded robo-calls and put his vaunted social media network to work promoting voter turnout for the Republican candidates, who all won. He hosted two fundraisers for individual Republicans: Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey and Rep. Karen Handel of Georgia.
Vice President Mike Pence is handling the rest of the political duties expected of the president on behalf of his party, traveling to…