While most former presidents have comfortably withdrawn from the harsh US media spotlight for a while, Trump, 74, is dating his time in the White House. In a conversation with Fox Business last week, he said that he meets weekly with his political team and is considering “100 percent” about a new candidacy for the presidency of the United States. “The polls show everyone wants me to do this.”
Everyone, this is Trumpian exaggeration. But while he has retired from fellow retirees in Florida, polls are already indicating that Trump remains the most popular figure in the Republican Party. And a Reuters / Ipsos poll last month showed that six in 10 Republican voters want their return in 2024.
He lost some land. For the first time since the summer of 2019, slightly more Republican voters are initially seeing themselves as Republican, rather than pro-Trump, as they indicated in a NBC News poll. But the golden formula for the party’s success is still loyalty to Trump. In the Texas midterm congressional elections, a candidate wanted to support him so badly that she gave her phone number on live TV in the hope that the former president would call her.
Republicans hope to regain seats in Congress in the midterm elections at the end of next year. But the party does not agree on the path required for this. There are a good number of Trump loyalists imitating his provocative policy that is devoid of facts. For example, stricter electoral rules are being introduced in many republican states to prevent alleged electoral fraud. There is no evidence that fraud influenced last year’s election, but Trump’s lies about it have made it a spearhead for the Republicans.
Another, smaller group can’t wait to get out of the Trump drama. Trumpians and apostates continue to argue publicly, with Trump in the lead. In his interview with Fox, he again attacked Mitch McConnell, the leader of the party who had distanced himself after denying his loss and a mob of his radical supporters stormed the Capitol. “We need good leadership. Mitch McConnell has not done a great job.” Trump said, “I think they should replace McConnell.” A few weeks ago he described McConnell as a stupid “son of a bitch.”
McConnell’s reaction was hypothermic. “We are looking to the future, not the past.” McConnell said the party’s future is Tim Scott, the senator who received a response to Biden’s speech to Congress last week. Scott emerges as the great-grandson of a cotton collector who became the only black Republican in the Senate. Democrats are believed to be divisive in their efforts to combat racism. The party leaders are full of praise and openly express their hope that Scott will run for president.
Possible new stars
But as long as Trump continues to hint at a comeback, such potential new stars will not spew. It’s uncertain if he really will return to politics – Trump especially likes to call attention to pessimists. Until it becomes clear what he intends to do, few Republican politicians want to portray themselves as Trump’s enemies. In addition to Tim Scott, a number of former Senators and Cabinet members, among others, are preparing for the campaign. They include former Vice President Mike Pence and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Haley said if Trump gets involved again, she will withdraw.
The existential crisis in the party distracts from what matters: opposing Joe Biden. Republicans have yet to find an effective criticism. Biden’s first steps to help the country out of the coronavirus crisis through social programs are popular with voters. Meanwhile, the Republican Party is focusing a lot on the struggle over cultural issues. Young transgender rights in sports, for example, or concerns about a so-called “elimination culture” – things Biden doesn’t do often.
Trump remains relatively invisible now as he no longer has access to social media. Ideas he shared on Twitter for years, he now sends them out in press releases. We haven’t heard of big plans for a private party, media company, or online platform for long. Nor from his wife – Melania Trump is filling her days with visits to the spa in Maralago, according to CNN sources. Next month, when it gets hot in Florida, Trump will move north to their golf club in New Jersey.
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