So far most of the pivotal denunciations of Donald Trump have come from Republican candidates in close races, who’ve finally found their opportunity to untether themselves: Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Rep. Joe Heck, people like that. But the denunciation that marked a turning point Saturday came from South Dakota Sen. John Thune. Thune didn’t just condemn Trump’s remarks; he called on Trump to drop out “immediately” and clear the top of the ticket for Gov. Mike Pence.
Thune is up for re-election in November, but it’s not as if he’d ever lose. More important is the signal Thune sends from the GOP leadership in Washington. This is the No. 3 Senate Republican, by virtue of his chairmanship of the Senate Republican Conference. If by early afternoon on Saturday someone of official importance is calling on Trump to drop out, who will issue a similar call by Saturday night? All eyes on you, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.