Donald Trump and his supporters are stepping up efforts to shame – and potentially remove – members of their party who they consider disloyal the former president and his false claims that last year’s election was stolen from him.
On Capitol Hill, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the House, is at risk of losing her leadership position amid her increasingly public feud with Trump.
In Utah, Sen. Mitt Romney, Trump’s rare foe in the Republican Party, faced the humiliation of reminding him over the weekend. a crowd of boosters who was once its presidential standard-bearer.
Donald Trump tweeting? during a State Dinner in 2020. Photo: Reuters
And in Texas, the only overtly anti-Trump Republican came in a humble 9th place in a well-attended special vote for a congressional seat.
Trump left office almost four months ago with the reputation very damaged after a mob of his supporters staged deadly riots in the United States Capitol to prevent the certification of the election results.
But recent events suggest a resurgence in the former president’s political fortunes, with those who refuse to endorse his fallacies on the defensive.
“It’s scary,” said Michael Wood, a Republican congressional candidate for Texas who based his campaign on a promise to push the party beyond the “cult of personality” that constitutes Trump. In the end, he got only 3% of the votes in Saturday’s special election, while two Trump supporters, including one the former president supported, will move into a runoff.
Trump’s grip on the party could strengthen in the coming days.
Trump supporters in Canton, Ohio. Photo: AP
In addition to his press releases, his powerful Facebook account could be restored this week if a supervisory meeting almost independent rules in their favor. Meanwhile, Virginia Republicans will decide whether to nominate an avowed Trump supporter for governor in one of the few major elections on this year’s calendar.
Another significant signal about the party’s leadership may come on Capitol Hill, where Liz Cheney’s future is in doubt.
The Wyoming congresswoman, the highest-ranking Republican to call for Trump’s impeachment, insisted the party must reject the former president’s lie that the election was somehow stolen. There is no evidence to support Trump’s allegations of massive voter fraud, and numerous audits, Republican state election officials, and Trump’s own attorney general have said the election they were fair.
But Trump has remained firm in his story and has issued a “proclamation” on Monday in which he tries to appropriate the language used by his enemies to describe his fallacies.
“The fraudulent 2020 presidential election will be known from this day as THE BIG LIE!” He wrote.
Face to face. Liz Cheney talks to Trump in a photo from November 2019. Photo: AP
Cheney, who has not ruled out running for herself in the 2024 elections, returned fire.
“The 2020 presidential elections weren’t stolen. Anyone who says they were is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law and poisoning our democratic system, “he tweeted.
It is clear that he has no intention of diminishing his criticism, even as he faces the possibility of losing his leadership position.
The deputy already survived a previous attempt to remove her from leadership, but this time it could be different. GOP Minority Leader in the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy supported her earlier this year, but has refused to defend her from the latest round of attacks as she faces conservatives resisting Cheney’s removal. .
This is indicative of McCarthy’s own calculations, who is struggling to stay close to Trump while trying to pitch a larger tent to help his party win the general election.
Although in the Capitol the Republican voices in favor of Trump far exceed critics of his own party, do not despise the detractors.
Mitch McConnell. Photo: AP
Total, 10 Republicans The House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for inspiring the Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill and seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump, but publicly rebuked the former president and privately encouraged the party to move forward.
The calculation is different for rank-and-file members of Congress, particularly those representing heavily Republican areas, where approximately 8 out of 10 supporters Party members tend to approve of Trump. Among Republican militants and grassroots voters the figure is believed to be much higher.
It is still too early to draw definitive conclusions about Trump’s success so far this year. Some Republican strategists privately indicate that there are real signs that the former president’s strength within grassroots voters and elected officials has started to decline.
“With each passing day he is less influential, but among those who still listen to him he is more influential than ever,” said veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
“It’s still important. It’s going to stay that way for months and even years, but as time goes on it will matter less and less.” At the moment, the former reality TV celebrity appears to be enjoying the ride.
“Good to see RINO Mitt Romney booed offstage at the Utah Republican State Convention,” Trump cackled in a series of commemorative remarks Monday praising the Texas results and criticism of Cheney and Romney. “RINO”, in English, means “Republican in name only.”
Senator Mitt Romney. Photo: AP
Over the weekend in Utah, a roomful of Republicans had dumped a shower of boos about romney before trying, unsuccessfully, to censure him for supporting Trump’s impeachment.
“Show respect,” the state party chairman scolded the crowd. Romney reminded them that he was a lifelong conservative, that he had been their presidential candidate in 2012, and told them that Republicans would only harm themselves by attacking each other.
“If we divide our party, we will be a losing match“, he claimed.
In Texas, losing congressional candidate Michael Wood, a 34-year-old former Marine and two-time Purple Heart recipient, stood in solidarity with a handful of prominent anti-Trump Republicans, including Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois. , former Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Liz Cheney, who had contributed donations to Wood’s campaign and provided moral support.
On Monday the former Marine said there is real urgency that anti-Trump Republicans unify against him.
“It can’t be that there are only individuals pulling back. We have to organize and show people that you can be a good Republican and not buy all that crap,” Wood said. “This fight is not won with podcasts and opinion pieces.”
Mike DuHaime, a leading Republican strategist, argues that the party is still grappling with your post-Trump identityBut he argued that he will rank better in the future if he includes conservatives like Cheney and Romney.
“There are people who play with the base of the electorate, who are very passionate and believe the great lie of the elections. And that enough to win primaries for the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate or the government, and even the presidency, it seems. “But, he warned,” if we focus only on that, we will not obtain enough success in the general elections to regain the majority. “
“At some point we have to put this behind us if we want to win the general election.”
The authors are Associated Press journalists
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