Trump raises nightmare scenario for GOP as he lashes out at potential primary foes


Donald Trump is raising the nightmare scenario for Republicans in the 2024 presidential election – that he might refuse to endorse the party’s nominee if he loses his primary race.

The former president’s warning comes as he ramps up efforts to try to scare or damage potential party rivals who are maneuvering ahead of their own possible campaign launches as a sleepy GOP contest is too far from bursting into life.

Specifically, Trump is turning to Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and his former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. Those veiled threats presage his possible attempt to stigmatize the brand in the eyes of Republican primary voters and mirror his 2016 caricature of rivals. So far, however, his scare tactics have not worked.

In an appearance Thursday on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s talk show, Trump launched his most focused effort yet to intimidate the potential GOP primary. When asked by Hewitt if he would commit to supporting the GOP nominee if not her, he hedged.

“It would depend. I would give you the same answer I gave in 2016 during the debate. … It would depend on who the candidate was,” Trump said. The former president’s comments play into fears that he could undermine turnout among his own loyal voters in the GOP if he would oppose the party’s 2024 presidential nominee or claim that the primary race was rigged against him.

He also highlighted a needle his potential challengers must thread – how to build their own coalition without alienating Trump supporters and full-scale attacks on the former president. But given the growing debate over Trump’s position in the GOP after his 2020 election loss and a disastrous midterm bid last year, it also raises questions about whether the twice-impeached former commander-in-chief is overestimating his own l support level.

Trump also used the interview to deliver fresh shots at potential rivals for the nomination — especially Haley, who has previously said she would not run against him.

“She’s a very ambitious person. She just couldn’t stay in a seat. I said, ‘You know what, Nikki, if you want to run, you go ahead and run,'” Trump told Hewitt. And he also took a jab at Pompeo with his new autobiography.

“I haven’t seen the book yet. I haven’t read it, though I heard it was generally nice. … He took a little more credit than he should have, but that’s OK with me,” Trump said, before adding: “We did a great job. I got along very well with Mike.”

Haley is expected to launch a campaign on Feb. 15 in Charleston, a source familiar with her plans told CNN Tuesday. Pompeo, promoting his new book chronicling the conservative media race, is making the kind of political noise to clear the throats of typical candidates. And South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is embarking on a faith-focused listening tour. The first two stops just happen to include Iowa and his home state — early voting stakes that will frame the GOP primary contest early next year.

The sudden activity follows Trump’s two-state campaign debut last weekend, which saw the former president slam another potential rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who he says is showing disloyalty considering his own run. This prompted a veiled counterpunch from the rising star of Republican politics, who noted that he – unlike you know who – won reelection.

Trump remains the only declared GOP candidate and this early shadow boxing comes a year before the ballots are cast in the only true test of political viability. But the first upset of the Republican race is important because it will help shape what is already sure to be a turbulent campaign that, given the dominance of electoral denial in the GOP base, could be another election that tests American democracy.

The increasingly clear indications of various campaigns are remarkable because they seem to show that Trump, who has been the most influential force in the GOP since 2016, is not so prohibitively formidable that he cannot be challenged by serious rivals.

It would be too much to say that his rivals sense the weakness of the former president’s deeply loyal ties to the Republican activists who decide the primaries. Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican who is hardly a Trump acolyte and himself considering a 2024 bid, said when pressed in an interview with Hewitt on Thursday that he would support Trump if he were the party’s nominee.

But Trump’s campaign to date, his energetic launch last year and his infrequent campaign appearances underscore his electoral liabilities, especially after his often disastrous midterm interventions.

Still, having multiple rivals would help Trump, just as he did in 2016, since the winner-take-all nature of most Republican primaries allows a candidate with just a handful of votes to build up large delegates in a crowded field. people

In other words, if Trump can divide the opposition, he can win the primary, but that is not guaranteed for the general election because the former president twice accused left Washington in shame after he tried to steal an election and foment a mob attack on the US Capitol.

Haley’s expected campaign launch will highlight a political figure with considerable appeal as Republicans wonder how to expand their coalition after losses in the 2020 general election. Haley has the advantage of being the former governor of a southern state that could be one of the most decisive main battlefields. , and his career has long been on a trajectory in a presidential race. Her candidacy would bring the historic potential of the first woman in the Oval Office and her South Asian heritage could help the GOP win back women and more moderate voters. He added some foreign policy experience to his resume with a stint as US ambassador to the United Nations under Trump.

Unlike many of his cabinet members, he crafted a smooth exit from the Trump administration on his own terms. His photo-op departure meeting with Trump in the Oval Office even then looked like potential photos for a future Republican primary campaign. Haley is not subtle about her stance — one that may allow her to gently argue that it’s time to go after the former president and President Joe Biden without directly repudiating the Trump presidency and its fans.

“It’s time for a new generation. It’s time for more leadership. … We have to remember, too, that we’ve lost the last seven out of eight popular votes for president,” Haley said in a Fox News interview last month. “It’s time for we got a Republican there who can lead and win a general election.”

He added: “I don’t think you have to be 80 years old to be a leader in DC.”

But the more fundamental question Haley will face is whether the Republican base, which has rewarded culture warriors, extreme “Make America Great Again” rhetoric and election deniers, has any interest in what she plans to do. sell

His qualifications seem formidable in isolation, but less so when they are considered the values ​​of the party whose nomination he is seeking. For example, is there really a market in the GOP for a more unified, multicultural, less strident delivery vehicle for Trump’s “America First” credo? After all, the ex-president’s outbursts, occasional profanity and lacerations of the liberal government and media elite create more of an emotional than a directly ideological connection with his biggest fans.

Sure, Haley might have the upper hand in a general election that would avoid Trump, but she has to get through it first.

Haley has struggled to reconcile her past ties to Trump with her wilder, anti-democratic outbursts, suggesting she is vulnerable to counterattacks from the former president who focus on his ambitions and perceived shifting loyalties.

For example, after leaving the administration on good terms, he reprimanded his party for following Trump in a “path he should not” take and denying his election that led to the January 6, 2021 insurrection. But with Trump still a powerful figure in the GOP, he repositioned himself in October 2021.

“We need it in the Republican Party. I don’t want us to go back to the pre-Trump days,” Haley said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Trump, who said over the weekend that he told her to “do it” when he called her, is already looking at Haley’s ouster. He posted a video on his social network Truth Wednesday of Haley saying in 2021 that she would not run for president if she did.

With the former South Carolina governor’s nomination for GOP governorship some observers are wondering exactly how he will build a base of support broad enough to carry him to the nomination.

“I think there is just room for three candidates in this race. Former Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger, who is now a former CNN politician, said the former Illinois Republican Adam Kinzinger. Commentator. “Nikki Haley’s struggle will be: it was pro-Trump, anti-Trump, he said he wouldn’t run if he ran, now he’s going to run. It does not yet have a natural constituency. She’s a smart lady, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Haley is not the only Republican to signal that they are ready to challenge Trump. Pompeo is hinting at a potential 2024 campaign.

“I spent time in Iowa and New Hampshire. This is not random,” he said at a forum in Washington, DC, on Wednesday. “We are just trying to understand our way through this. It is an incredibly important decision to say you believe you should be the leader of the United States of America America,” he added.

Pompeo appears to have an even more serious position problem than Haley, as he was the former president’s executive at the State Department and while he was director of the CIA, and shared many of his former boss’s nationalist foreign policy instincts. Almost everything that a GOP primary voter could get from Pompeo, they could get from Trump, although the West Point graduate and former Kansas congressman would undoubtedly argue that he has a calm temperament.

But Pompeo — like Haley, Scott, former Vice President Mike Pence, more fringe candidates and even DeSantis, if he gets in the race — all face the same problem. They might not be afraid of Trump, but that doesn’t mean they can beat him.

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This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.


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