This weekend, amid calls from across the Republican party for Donald Trump to step down as the GOP presidential nominee, the Republican National Committee asked a direct mail vendor to stop the presses. On Saturday, Politico reported that the RNC's joint fundraising committee sent the vendor an email instructing the company to put a hold on all projects:
" 'Please put a hold/stop on all mail projects right now. If something is in production or print it needs to stop. Will update you when to proceed,' Lauren Toomey, a staffer in the RNC's political department, wrote in an email that was obtained by POLITICO."
The report emerged a day after the Washington Post published bombshell video footage of Mr. Trump behind the scenes at an Access Hollywood shoot referring to his failed attempt to "fuck" a married woman and boasting about how his celebrity allowed him to "do anything" to women including "grab them by the pussy."
The video's revelation prompted a fresh crop of Republican leaders to call for the candidate to call it quits, including conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, who's running for re-election, and Senate candidate Joe Heck, who is embroiled in a closely-watched race for Harry Reid's vacated Senate seat in Nevada.
It's not clear which vendor was asked to stop production, or whether other mail or advertising-related vendors were told to cease work. There's also no indication that the work stoppage was the result of a broader decision within the RNC to pull back from supporting the Trump campaign.
The RNC didn't respond to a request to comment for this story in time for publication.
One GOP media strategist who asked to remain anonymous suggested that the directive may be related only to a program targeting specific voters in particular locations and not necessarily a sign of wider problems. There are several reasons such work could be stopped. Polls might show that the targeted voter segment or geographic location is no longer in play, for example, or that the direct mailer message was no longer relevant as the political winds blow wildly.
"I don't know anything specific but [it] is not unusual and based upon my reading of it, [the call to stop work was only for] the actual mail program (where the cost is upfront and mostly postage)," the strategist said in an email. "They didn't freeze fundraising emails or anything from what I saw in my inbox or on twitter so this is a specific political program that is just on hold - could literally be as they wait to see what polling comes back and if they need to go in to different states (not a lot of flexibility with mail once you print it/put the names from a specific state on it...)," he continued.
Coupled with the continued exodus of Republican party officials who once backed Mr. Trump, however, a directive to stop a direct mail run doesn't look good. Mr. Trump's campaign depends in large part on the party's support.