Republicans Shockingly Back Republican Nominee

Never underestimate the hypocrisy of politicians.

AP (“Many Senate Republicans were done with Trump after Jan. 6. Now they want him back in the White House“):

Three years ago, Donald Trump had few friends left in the Senate.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell declared in a speech that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by spreading “wild falsehoods” about election fraud and trying to overturn his reelection defeat.

After the House impeached Trump for his actions, seven Republicans stood with Democrats and declared Trump guilty. He was acquitted, but several GOP senators — even some who still publicly supported him — distanced themselves from the former president. Many were certain his political future was over.

But it wasn’t. Trump is now the party’s presumptive nominee to challenge President Joe Biden. And on Thursday, he returned to Capitol Hill to meet with Republicans — the first such official meetings since his presidency — to enthusiastic and near-unanimous support from the Senate GOP conference, including many of the same senators who condemned him for his actions as he tried to block President Joe Biden’s legitimate victory. McConnell shook his hand, multiple times, and gave him a fist bump.

The hard feelings, and any memories of the violent end to his presidency, seemed to have faded completely.

“I think that’s in the rearview mirror for most people,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said of the 2020 election. “There will always be tension there. But I think most Republicans really see President Trump as the only way to turn this country around. And they’re enthusiastic about the chance.”

Republican senators’ embrace of the former president comes after years of ups and downs. With a few exceptions, senators have never backed him as consistently and as eagerly as their GOP counterparts in the House. But as he runs again, Senate Republicans are backing Trump more enthusiastically than ever.

The zealous Senate support is partly rooted in self-interest.

Republicans have a good shot at winning the Senate majority in November, and they know Trump’s support is key to doing that, especially in solidly Republican states like Ohio and Montana where Democratic incumbents are struggling to hold on.

And they are already starting to talk about what they will do if Trump wins and they gain both chambers of Congress. House Speaker Mike Johnson visited a Senate GOP luncheon Wednesday to discuss the possibility of tax legislation, among other things, if Republicans win full control.

“Our ability to get a majority in the Senate is intrinsically linked to Trump winning,” Republican. Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina said after the meeting with Johnson. “So we’re like, one team, one vision.”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is running to replace McConnell as GOP leader when he steps down from that post in November, said the party faces a “binary choice” between Trump and Biden.

“There is no Plan B,” said Cornyn, who had called Trump “reckless” after the Capitol attack. “I think people know the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates. And for me, I think President Trump is clearly preferable.”

Also, Cornyn added, “his support is going to be important in a lot of these states where he’s very popular, where we have Senate races.”

I have little respect remaining for Graham. He’s demonstrated time and again that he lacks backbone and principal and will do pretty much anything to “remain relevant.”

At the same time, it’s hardly shocking that Republican Senators are baking the Republican nominee for President. To the extent they’re motivated by public policy goals, they need to retake the Senate majority and the White House to achieve them. To the extent they’re motivated by the prestige of the office, they need to get re-elected—which they are extremely unlikely to do if they help get a Democratic President re-elected.

This is a situation unprecedented in the modern era: a defeated President seeking re-election. Most of those people doubtless believed—indeed, hoped—Trump was finished after the election loss and, especially, after the Capitol Riot. Sadly, they were wrong. Once it was clear he was running again in 2024, he scared off every plausible challenger save Nikki Haley. And the nominating electorate overwhelmingly backed him throughout.

So, again, these folks have no real alternative to Trump if they wish to accomplish their political goals. It’s him or nothing.

FILED UNDER: 2024 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    “To the extent they’re motivated by public policy goals…”

    Okay, James. I’ll play. Name three of these public policy goals – serious ones – that they’re so eager to implement.

    “This is a situation unprecedented in the modern era: a defeated President seeking re-election.”

    Not to mention that whole felon thing. That’s unprecedented in the entire history of the country.

    The most I’m willing to grant any GOP congress critter right now is that they have received threats of violence. They’re scared for their families. Some of them have come out and said or at least hinted as much. I’m not condoning it but I will grant that dealing with that kind of threat must be extremely unsettling. Doesn’t justify how they’re flailing around in public and clearly don’t care about the national good.

    That’s another Trump legacy. That’s also unprecedented in this country.

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  2. just nutha says:

    @Not the IT Dept.: This situation reminds me of a joke I saw years ago on Big City Comedy, an SNL type skit show out of Canada staring John Candy.

    He had Steve Martin on and one routine centered on Candy asking Martin how it felt to be a sellout. Some heated words ensued and finally Candy says “You used to do comedy that made a statement.”

    Martin replied, “I still do comedy that makes a statement; these days, I’m working on comedy that makes a bank statement, that’s all that’s different.”

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  3. Tony W says:

    I will never understand why the Democratic Party is so inept at basic marketing. We have the majority, by quite a lot, and still the races are neck-and-neck because the Ds refuse to play hard ball.

    These Republicans are creating campaign ads for the Ds every day, and it’s all wasted.

    The Lincoln Project is better at taking down fellow Republicans than the opposition party is.

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  4. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Tony W: I read your comment and felt inclined to agree with you. Then I saw this headline in Steven’s tab roundup post:

    Trump Demands Biden Remove Ad of Him Calling Dead Soldiers ‘Suckers’ and ‘Losers’.

    Interesting, wouldn’t you agree?

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  5. CSK says:

    Trump clearly thinks he looks stern and commanding in that photo, but, as always, he only looks petulant, like an elderly infant.

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  6. @Not the IT Dept.:

    Okay, James. I’ll play. Name three of these public policy goals – serious ones – that they’re so eager to implement.

    1. Cutting taxes for the wealthy and for corporations.
    2. Further deregulation of business.
    3. Various social conservative goals linked to gender and reproduction.
    4. Continuing to fill the judiciary with pro-business, pro-social conservative judges.
    5. Protection of gun rights.

    (off the top of my head)

    I suppose it depends on what you mean by “serious” and, of course, one’s miles will vary as to who “they” are.

    But do not discount the degree to which there are a lot of people who firmly believe that taxes (as. general and specific matter) should be cut, that regulations need to be significantly changed, and that we need more stringent rules constraining various sexual and social behaviors.

    This is not to defend Trump or standing by him, but to point that political preferences are a real thing and that simply dismissing others are nonferrous doesn’t change their behavior.

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  7. @CSK: And that hat will never not look ridiculous, especially on someone wearing a suit jacket.

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  8. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    In a breeze, that hat might keep his hair from looking as if he’s been electrocuted.

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  9. Tony W says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Of course he’s going to whine when his own words are used against him.

    Hell, he whines when the buffet line at Merde-a-Lardo is too long.

    Democrats need to use that trait in their ads as well.

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  10. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Just focusing on the needs of reliably R states, none of those would solve the top issues facing those states. Which reinforces the observation that red state voters are poorly served by red state politics and politicians.

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  11. @Sleeping Dog: But that is a different issue. And, not surprisingly, a Democratic-leaning commentariat would object to these policy goals. It doesn’t change the fact that they are sincerely held goals.

    This is not to say I disagree with you, but that still doesn’t change the fact that Republican politicians and voters have these goals. And as a denizen of a deeply red state, I concur that these are not helpful policies. I was engaging with a family member about taxes very recently, but the working-class view of your typical working-class Alabamian is that taxes are too damn high, and convincing them that that is not the problem (or that a tax cut would barely help them) is a hard sell.

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  12. Not the IT Dept. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    No, Steven, those are platitudes, not policies. Give me three actual policies. My idea of “serious” is something that specifically addresses an issue or problem facing the country.

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  13. JKB says:

    @Tony W: I will never understand why the Democratic Party is so inept at basic marketing.

    Whatever do you mean. The Biden campaign theme is “Finish off America”. Okay, the words they use are “Finish the Job” but after the 2020 MAD campaign for “Make America Decline” it goes without saying. And Democrats have been very successful in making America decline over the last 3 years or so. But they need more time to make it stick.

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  14. Tony W says:

    @JKB: Yeah, like “Make Attorneys Get Attorneys” is such a great slogan.

    Sheesh….

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  15. just nutha says:

    @JKB: PUT DOWN THE BONG!! Seriously, if you keep smoking this much, you’re bound to damage your lungs eventually.

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  16. Modulo Myself says:

    There’s no mystery. The entire premise of Republican anger is based on things (taxes, regulations, values, crime) being shoved down their throats, like Mrs Alito having to see a Pride flag a few days out of a few year and wanting to spit on somebody about it. That’s why it took roughly a day for Trump’s failed coup to become another thing They are shoving down the throats of Republicans. If you’re on your knees, everything feels like it’s going down your throat. Maybe this is an ideology, maybe it’s just pure selfishness, but no mystery exists as to why the support happens.

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  17. charontwo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @Not the IT Dept.:

    I would call #3 on that list a policy: creating a theocracy – that’s one. Still need two more to get to three.

    (I would characterize the other 4 of that list as “attitudes” or “stances.”)

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  18. Mr. Prosser says:

    @CSK: @Steven L. Taylor: The salute and wearing a hat when doing so are probably the only things he learned at the military school he had to attend.

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  19. gVOR10 says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    The most I’m willing to grant any GOP congress critter right now is that they have received threats of violence.

    Republican pols are being threatened by RWNJs. Dems have been threatened by RWNJs all along (bothsides) and get on with their jobs. But I suppose it’s different for GOPs who, as you note, have no core beliefs or sense of public service.

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  20. gVOR10 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I could only come up with two, you’re 1. and 2. As you say, YMMV. 3. and 5. are just the “populist” veneer necessary to further 1. and 2. 4. is a repeat of 1. and 2. 3. and 5. may become serious goals as the party slides further right into MAGA cloud cuckoo land, but right now, much as I hate to disagree, I’m stuck at two.

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  21. Scott F. says:

    To the extent they’re motivated by public policy goals, they need to retake the Senate majority and the White House to achieve them. To the extent they’re motivated by the prestige of the office, they need to get re-elected—which they are extremely unlikely to do if they help get a Democratic President re-elected.

    To the extent that they’re motivated by their personal integrity, they need to…

    Sorry, that thought is too ludicrous to finish typing out.

    Sadly, I don’t think it has always been true that honor and integrity had no value for politicians. To my mind, there are unquestionably many Democratic politicians in Congress today for whom “public service” isn’t a punch line. There are even a few Republicans politicians who come to mind as honorable, though Trumpism has forced the likes of Cheney and Kinzinger from their positions.

    I honestly wish we, as citizens, weren’t so glib about the cravenness of what we are seeing now from the Republicans. “Trump just being Trump” or “politicians just being politicians” are premises that once fully accepted make our whole system unsustainable.

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  22. gVOR10 says:

    @Not the IT Dept.:

    My idea of “serious” is something that specifically addresses an issue or problem facing the country.

    @charontwo:

    Look at what they do, not what they say. What did they do when they had the power? They passed tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations and confirmed Federalist Society trained judges. The FS judges are trained to support the populist stuff for political reasons and Alito seems a true believer, but the priority of the FS is destroying the regulatory state.

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  23. Mikey says:

    I initially read the post title as “Republicans Shockingly Bad Republican Nominee” which is no less accurate than the actual title.

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  24. DeD says:

    Republicans supporting Trump is like parents flagellating themselves for their child’s bad behavior.

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  25. Andy says:

    Agree with this but I don’t think most Republicans are focused on policy goals since they all have to sing to Trump’s tune and only Trump knows the song. For example, Trump pulled the rug out from GoP senators on the border security for Ukraine funding deal such that even the authors of the bill (IIRC) voted against it.

    No, I don’t think policy enters into it, this is entirely about political survival and relevance. Opposing Trump during an election year is political Seppuku.

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  26. Kazzy says:

    “House Speaker Mike Johnson visited a Senate GOP luncheon Wednesday to discuss the possibility of tax legislation, among other things, if Republicans win full control.”

    Didn’t they HAVE full control during Trump’s first two years? And didn’t they pass tax legislation?

    What’s the problem? Did Trump not win hard enough when he was playing with a loaded deck? They need to win harder? Which is impossible because he won the hardest the first time but of course only he can win the hardestest?

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  27. @Not the IT Dept.:

    No, Steven, those are platitudes, not policies. Give me three actual policies. My idea of “serious” is something that specifically addresses an issue or problem facing the country.

    Basically you are defining your challenge in a way that makes it impossible to answer and, moreover, wherein you are the arbiter of what “serious” means.

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  28. And let’s me frank, most voters, regardless of their voting behavior, are not motivated by serious policy, at least not in the way most persons who read this site think about policy.

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