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Trump is alienating Republicans: GOP strategist

  • Republicans don't want to be stained by Trump's tepid response to the deadly violence in Charlottesville, said Joe Watkins. former White House aide to President George H.W. Bush.
  • GOP strategist Ron Christie agrees Trump's response was not swift or strong enough.
  • With midterm elections on tap next year, he thinks some Republicans are going to want to distance themselves from Trump.

President Donald Trump is alienating his fellow Republicans after his reaction to the deadly violence during a white nationalist rally, GOP strategist Joe Watkins told CNBC on Monday.

"They don't want to be stained by a tepid response, by a too slow response to an overt act of racism like the one that took place last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia," the former White House aide to President George H.W. Bush said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

One person was killed and 19 injured after a car rammed into counterprotesters during a white nationalist rally on Saturday. Police have arrested and charged an Ohio man.

On Saturday, Trump condemned hatred and violence "on many sides" and did not specifically denounce white supremacist groups. After mounting pressure, Trump on Monday explicitly condemned white supremacists and "racist" violence.

"The statement that President Trump made today should have come last Saturday and it should have come with heart, in the same strong terms that he talks about North Korea or the strong terms that he's used against Sen. Mitch McConnell and other people with whom he's angry," Watkins said.

Republican Ron Christie also doesn't think Trump's latest statement went far enough.

With midterm elections on tap next year, he thinks some Republicans are going to want to distance themselves from Trump, particularly those in suburban Philadelphia, New York City and upstate New York.

"His response was not quick enough, was not swift enough, was not strong enough, was not heartfelt. I think there are a lot of people who are losing heart by the actions and deeds this president has been undertaking in the last couple weeks," Christie told "Power Lunch."

Sarah Fagen said while some members of Congress will still benefit from being aligned with Trump, some will not.

"Some of those independents in suburban America have started to write the president off in part because of the way he handled this latest situation in Charlottesville and health care and everything else," she said in an interview with "Power Lunch."

Watch: Trump: Responding to hate with love