WASHINGTON ― Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) is with Republican nominee Donald Trump “no matter what crazy things he says.” At least, that’s what he told a group of Cub Scouts on Oct. 11, just days after the world learned of a 2005 recording where Trump talked about grabbing women’s genitals without their consent.
In a video published Thursday by The Washington Post, one young Scout asks Yoder who he’ll be voting for in the presidential race.
“Aha! Which parent put him up to that?” Yoder playfully asks. “Is there a hot mic in here?”
Yoder then says he’s a Republican, “so I’m going to be supporting the Republican nominee, no matter what crazy things he says.”
It’s that last part ― Yoder’s profession of unconditional support of Trump ― that may land the already embattled congressman in further electoral trouble, even though he only seems to be acknowledging what almost every GOP member of Congress privately thinks: Trump says crazy things, but I still have to support him.
It won’t help that Yoder is telling this to Cub Scouts ― in a church, no less ― but the event doesn’t seem to be the most serious. (Yoder was also asked if he likes pizza.)
Still, it’s indicative of the mindset so many Republicans have adopted this year. They are Republicans, so they have to support the Republican nominee. No matter what. Yoder can laugh the incident off. Because it’s just sexual assault the GOP nominee is talking about, right?
Yoder is in the re-election campaign of his life, as his once R+6 district grapples with Trump and a poor climate for Republicans. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has the lowest approval rating of any governor in the country, with just 23 percent of Kansas voters giving him a thumbs up after a stretch of austerity measures have hurt the state’s economy.
As for Yoder, his favorability in the district is down too. And his Democratic challenger, businessman Jay Sidie, is polling neck-and-neck with him.
According to polling supplied by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from early October, only 35 percent of Kansas voters have a favorable opinion of Yoder, compared to 34 percent who have an unfavorable opinion. Adding to his problems, Hillary Clinton is beating Trump in his district by 10 points, 52 to 42. And in a generic battle between a Democrat and a Republican, voters favor the Democrat this year, 49 percent to 44.
Yoder does have high name recognition, and a record as an appropriator who’s moved up the congressional ladder quickly, but his declaration of unconditional support for Trump might nonetheless hurt him.
Yoder’s campaign laughed off the video Thursday in a statement to the Post.
“Anyone who knows Kevin knows that he utilizes his quick wit to connect with voters,” spokesman C.J. Grover said. “All this video shows is Kevin continues to be out in the community taking all questions from anyone who wants to ask them, whereas his opponent has been hiding in his basement hoping his financial backers in D.C. can steal him a victory.”
Yoder’s campaign declined to comment further to The Huffington Post on Thursday.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.