Down-ballot Missouri Republicans face decision on Trump endorsement

In the aftermath of a Donald Trump debate performance Sunday at Washington University in St. Louis that appeared just strong enough to prevent his damaged campaign from collapsing, Missouri Republicans are confronted with a delicate political dilemma.

The Manhattan billionaire still faces historically long odds of winning the presidency on Nov. 8, but having lived to fight on at Sunday’s debate means he almost certainly will win Missouri.

This means the state’s down-ballot Republicans have to choose between ditching a man who their state’s voters are likely to support, or sticking with a man who still has more than three weeks to make them regret it.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, is alone, so far, among top Missouri Republicans in employing a new verb that has sprung from the Trump Era: “unendorse.” She broke with Trump following the revelation Friday of a 2005 video in which he brags about groping and kissing women without their consent and getting away with it because he’s famous.

Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., locked in a tough re-election fight, has stuck by Trump (while condemning his comments) in the face of a base of rural conservative voters across outstate Missouri who still view the blustery mogul as an anti-establishment hero.

A new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, taken over the weekend, had Trump trailing Clinton by 14 percentage points in a two-way race, and by 11 when Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein were included. It’s Clinton’s widest lead in months, though it doesn’t take into account any ground Trump may have gained from Sunday’s St. Louis debate.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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