It’s increasingly difficult to imagine anything that could make the 2016 election season stranger than it already is, but the National Republican Congressional Committee managed to do just that when it released a television ad for Congressman Bob Dold of Illinois this week. In it, the narrator praises Dold for his decision to disavow the Republican Party’s own presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
“Dold is an independent voice, who stood up to Donald Trump months ago,” the narrator says. The ad then cuts to a clip of a Dold appearance on CNN from March of this year in which the first-term congressman says, “Listen, I think Donald Trump has disqualified himself.”
The advertisement, which National Review writer Alexis Levinson flagged this afternoon, has aired in Dold’s congressional district, where he is locked in a close battle with Democrat Brad Schneider. The seat is one of the most competitive in the country. Dold won it in 2010, only to be ousted by Schneider in 2012, before winning it back again in 2014.
The advertisement does not even mention that Dold is a member of the Republican Party. In fact, someone unfamiliar with the congressman would likely come away with the impression that he is an Independent, because the narrator refers to him as “a proven Independent for Illinois.”
At this point in the campaign, it’s become commonplace for individual Republican lawmakers to disassociate themselves from Trump. However, the formal GOP establishment, like the Republican National Committee, has remained steadfast in its support of the party’s nominee.
The decision by the NRCC to put its name -- and its money -- behind an ad slamming its own party’s presidential nominee has got to rate as one of the oddest moments of an odd election season.
Update: The NRCC's advertisement for Rep. Bob Dold (R-IL) was removed from YouTube sometime on Thursday afternoon, after stories pointing out the implicit criticism of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump began popping up in various publications.