Senate Republicans got an unwelcome intrusion into their swanky campaign donor retreat this week in Palm Beach, Florida, when Donald Trump issued a statement Wednesday threatening to tank turnout among GOP voters if Republicans didn’t find a way to overturn the 2020 election results.
According to reporting from The Washington Post, Trump’s ill-timed and self-serving statement cast a pall over the gathering.
“It gives everyone cold sweats over the Georgia situation and the prospect he could have some impact again,” said one party strategist, referring to Trump’s effect on the Georgia Senate runoffs earlier this year.
On Thursday, a Trump spokesperson followed up with a statement asserting that Trump was actually a GOTV machine. “There is no one in the country that does more to increase voter engagement and participation than President Trump. Through his endorsements and massive Save America rallies, President Trump is single-handedly rebuilding the Republican Party at the ballot box.”
Fascinating. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis of depressed turnout among Republican voters in Georgia’s runoffs included a quote from 61-year-old Craig Roland, who said Trump’s message about the stolen election had discouraged him from voting in the runoffs.
“What good would it have done to vote? They have votes that got changed,” Roland said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever vote again.”
Trump, speaking to attendees at the Palm Beach getaway, offered a different view. The Post reviewed some audio from his speech, and it’s a doozie. Trump bragged about all his electoral successes after four years in which the Republicans lost total control of Congress and the White House alike.
“It was a dying party, I’ll be honest,” he told the room full of GOP operatives and Senators, who are now sitting in the minority. “Now we have a very lively party.” That’s one way of putting it.
Trump went on to blast certain Senate Republicans who have dared to publicly challenge him, name-checking Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska at their own retreat. Nothing like some uplifting rhetoric to foster that ol’ team spirit.
“The Republican Party has to stick together,” Trump added. He wasn’t being ironic.
Playing up his own baseless election fraud claims (which nearly every GOP senator knows are ludicrous) was a centerpiece of Trump’s pitch to the crowd.
Trump called what happened in Georgia “a terrible thing” and said many states were “correcting all the ways we were all abused over the last election . . . last two elections if you think about it.” Apparently, Trump is aware that 2018 wasn’t exactly a home run for the GOP either.
Congressional Republicans see real opportunities for gaining seats and retaking majorities next year, but not with a message dominated by Trump’s obsessive 2020 election fraud lies.
GOP Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska, who holds an urban/suburban swing seat, said Republicans could “win big” in 2022 with consistent messaging about foreign policy, inflation, immigration, and crime.
However, Bacon said, “If the party wants to make it about the election is rigged, we will lose. Independent voters don’t respond well to that.”
The problem for Bacon and other vulnerable Republicans is that it doesn’t matter what “the party” wants because no one in GOP leadership has the guts, integrity, or political juice to face down Trump, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blew his chance to shiv Trump during the January impeachment trial. McConnell either couldn’t muster the votes to convict Trump or didn’t try—either way, he failed.
In the meantime, both the Senate and House campaign arms continue to avidly fundraise by invoking Trump’s name and a potential 2024 presidential bid.
Trump is also set to keynote the fall dinner of the National Republican Congressional Committee. When NRCC chair Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota was asked about Trump’s threat to sink GOP turnout next year unless Republicans overturned the 2020 results, all Emmer could muster was, “The former president, he’s a private citizen. He, of course, is entitled to his own opinion.” (That’s clearly the best Emmer’s going to do because it’s the second time he’s deployed the private citizen/own opinion messaging.)
Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel has also promised donors that the party would make “election integrity” a key focus in 2022.
Historically, congressional Republicans enjoy a huge advantage heading into next year’s midterms simply because they are the party out of power. The problem for them is they have hung their hat on a guy whose delusional obsession with the 2020 “steal” is overwhelming the entire party. Trump is demanding fealty on that message from every one of his GOP primary endorsees and alternately promising primary challenges for anyone at the state and federal levels who defies him.
In Michigan, where Trumpers are currently knocking on doors trying to find evidence of 2020 fraud, Trump issued a statement threatening any GOP lawmaker who stood in their way.
“Hopefully, each one of these cowardly RINOs, whose names will be identified and forthcoming, will be primaried with my complete and total endorsement in the upcoming election,” Trump said in a Wednesday statement.
To date, the state’s GOP-led legislature hasn’t launched an audit and an investigation by the Senate Oversight Committee concluded there was “no evidence” of widespread fraud.
So whatever message GOP operatives and lawmakers might hope to feature in next year’s midterms: They can kiss it goodbye. Trump is going to go to his grave spewing 2020 election fraud conspiracy theories and he’ll happily drag the Republican Party with him.
From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.