Trump Hemmorhaging Donors and Backers
The ship is abandoning the sinking rat.
NYT (“Key Allies Are Inching Away From Trump“):
Three billionaire donors have moved on and others are actively weighing their options. A number of former allies are staying on the sidelines. A long list of potential rivals — from popular governors to members of Congress — are seriously assessing their chances for 2024. Even his own daughter has declined to get involved.
Within hours of Donald J. Trump announcing his third presidential bid on Tuesday, some of his former aides, donors and staunchest allies are shunning his attempt to recapture the White House, an early sign that he may face difficulty winning the support of a Republican Party still reeling from unexpected midterm losses.
While Mr. Trump has long faced opposition from the establishment and elite quarters of his party, this round of criticism was new in its raw bluntness, plainly out in the open by Wednesday and focused on reminding voters that the Trump era in Republican politics has led to the opposite of the endless winning Mr. Trump once promised.
“The message he delivered last night — which was self-serving, which was chaotic — was the same one that lost the last election cycle and would lose the next,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican and Trump critic who spoke Wednesday from Iowa, where he is testing the waters for a presidential run in 2024. “We need alternatives.”
A growing chorus of Republican officials, lawmakers and activists blame the former president for their failure to regain control of the Senate and for what will be a narrow margin in the House.
The scope of the Republican losses has prompted some of his allies to publicly voice complaints they have long kept private about the former president’s ability to win the White House. For those who have been more vocal, their concerns have morphed into far more direct attacks as they try to seize what they see as a chance to move past Mr. Trump and embrace a new class of party leaders.
At an annual gathering of Republican governors in Orlando, donors and lobbyists mingled with governors past, present and future while weighing ways to wrest Mr. Trump from the party’s base. Their main complaint was not over policy or even style, but losses the party has taken since Mr. Trump won the White House in 2016.
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota, a Republican often mentioned as a potential 2024 candidate, said she did not believe Mr. Trump offered “the best chance” for the party in 2024.
“If we narrow our focus there, then we’re not talking to every single American,” Ms. Noem said in an interview as she sat across a mahogany table from her political adviser, Corey Lewandowski, who served as campaign manager for an early portion of Mr. Trump’s 2016 bid. “Our job is not just to talk to people who love Trump or hate Trump. Our job is to talk to every single American.”
Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, a former Trump ally who spoke at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, put it more bluntly in a phone interview: “In 2020, there was no other option. In 2024 we will have candidates who are vastly superior and will do much, much better competing against the Democrat nominee than the loser Donald Trump has proven himself to be.”
While I’ll take it, it’s noteworthy that most of the elites abandoning Trump are doing so because they think he’s bad for the Republican Party, not because he’s bad for the country. There are, presumably, a significant number of more traditional Republicans who never cared for him but clung to him out of cowardly expediency. They, I suppose, are feeling freer to speak their minds.
Whether the complaints filter down to a Republican Party base that has long stuck by Mr. Trump remains to be seen. Predictions of his demise among the party’s rank and file have long been undone by primary results, particularly in this year’s Senate contests. Officials who are closest to the party’s base — state legislators and county G.O.P. leaders loyal to Mr. Trump — said Wednesday that they had not seen the sort of defections predicted by the Republican elite gathered in the swanky conference rooms of a Waldorf Astoria hotel within a stone’s throw of Disney World.
“I haven’t had anybody express their dissatisfaction with Trump since the midterms,” said Terry Brand, the Republican chairman in Langlade County in rural northern Wisconsin. “The people that supported Trump in 2016 and 2020, the real supporters, they’re going to support him again.”
One imagines that’s true. But it’s not like he was getting supermajority support even in 2016; he was just a singular brand among a large group of fairly interchangeable candidates.
Three major party donors — Stephen Schwarzman, Ken Griffin and Ronald Lauder — said this week that they intended to back someone other than Mr. Trump or have no plans to support him this time. Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka said she would not be involved with his campaign, saying that she is “choosing to prioritize” her children. Groups like the conservative Club for Growth, once a staunch Trump ally, are circulating polling showing Mr. Trump trailing Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida by double digits.
Other potential contenders — including Ms. Noem, former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia — are reassessing their 2024 chances in the wake of the midterms. Another possible contender, Mike Pompeo, who served as Mr. Trump’s secretary of state, wrote on Twitter that Republicans needed “leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood,” a reference to Mr. Trump’s declaration on Tuesday that “I’m a victim.”
On Capitol Hill, some Republican lawmakers long loyal to Mr. Trump began a slow backpedal.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, who has tied his bid to become the next House speaker to Mr. Trump’s political legacy, wouldn’t say if he will endorse Mr. Trump for president. Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, a staunch ally who won his 2018 election on the back of Mr. Trump’s endorsement and support, said he was rooting for a wide-open presidential primary.
“I hope a lot of other people get in,” Mr. Cramer said. “He’s not entitled to the job. None of us are.”
Plenty of others jumped to Mr. Trump’s side, however. They included not just his most fervent supporters — Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Representative Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who lost his primary — but rising stars, such as Wesley Hunt of Texas, one of two new Black Republicans elected to the House.
In an ideal world, a Trump-MTG-Cawthorn Caucus would comprise three people. We’ll see how large it really is.
“He’s a loser,” said Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, who won a commanding re-election victory last week. “He lost in 2020. And most Republicans agree with that.”
Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, a longtime-but-no-more Trump ally, received a standing ovation on Tuesday morning after he told a roomful of party donors, governors and strategists that Mr. Trump cost the party victory in the past three federal elections.
But in an interview hours later, Mr. Christie acknowledged that the former president might not have lost his grip on the party’s base. “Primary voters need to understand the ramifications of another vote for Donald Trump,” said Mr. Christie, not ruling out his own 2024 bid. “It will mean four more years of a Democratic president.”
Polling indicates that about one-third of the Republican Party remains devoted to Mr. Trump, making it difficult for another candidate to oust him in a sprawling primary field. That explains why most elected Republicans have remained silent as they wait to see how far Mr. Trump gets and whether possible challengers like Mr. DeSantis will be able to withstand his taunts and assaults or will fold like his rivals in 2016.
“I am on the horns of a DeSantis-Trump dilemma,” said Tom Tancredo, a Republican and former Colorado congressman who helped pioneer the anti-immigration politics that Mr. Trump successfully exploited. “I guess it will just boil down to which looks more electable by primary time.” He said he thought that would be Mr. DeSantis.
The sheer fecklessness and opportunism of these people continues to astound me.
WaPo (“Trump’s early 2024 launch fails to rally GOP around him“) adds:
[H]is official campaign announcement on Tuesday echoed his original 2015 launch in other ways that are less to his favor — lacking the advantages of incumbency and a unified party at his back.
Republican leaders in Washington and around the country are openly blaming Trump for leading the party to its third consecutive electoral letdown. A conservative press that cheered his presidency reprised the hostile tone many right-leaning outlets took when he first appeared on the political scene in 2015. And an emboldened array of potential 2024 competitors for the nomination have stepped forward to suggest an alternative future for the party, even if they are not formally joining Trump in the race yet.
Few major donors or even former Trump administration officials immediately came to his defense — with some, most notably Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, a longtime adviser to Trump in the presidency, saying he would support someone else. And some polls show Trump has seen significant erosion among Republicans.
“For the first time since the 2020 election it is clear that Trump is far more vulnerable than people may have thought,” said John Tillman, CEO of the American Culture Project, a conservative nonprofit group funded by major donors to the GOP. “As Trump continues to focus on himself, criticize fellow Republicans, endorse less competitive candidates that go on to lose — that means he is helping more and more Republican primary voters see his flaws.”
Back in Washington, Trump’s clout within the party suffered another setback as Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky defeated Sen. Rick Scott of Florida to remain the Senate’s Republican leader. Trump has repeatedly demanded McConnell’s immediate ouster and made clear his preference for Scott, yet the challenge attracted only 10 votes.
House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of California — fresh off his own win in leadership elections but short of the votes needed to become speaker in January after the GOP clinched the House — declined to endorse Trump on Wednesday, telling reporters at the Capitol, “You guys are crazy.”
McCarthy told others before the election that he did not expect to immediately endorse Trump if he ran for president again. He was the first member of the House leadership to endorse Trump in 2016 — as well as the first major Republican to publicly embrace Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — and Trump has been supporting him for speaker.
Advisers say Trump sees being an outsider as a valuable political advantage and wants to talk about “draining the swamp” and how the establishment — and the entire media — is against him. But his team also courted a number of advisers, members of Congress and other influential Republicans, including Republican National Committee members, who did not show up on Tuesday night.
The party’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, was not present. Nor were several of Trump’s most reliable congressional allies, such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida or Jim Jordan of Ohio, who in some cases blamed their absence on the weather.
Among the few notable Republicans present were Rep. Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), who lost his primary and is leaving office; Michigan GOP co-chair Meshawn Maddock; and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Instead, the crowd was padded with Trump rally superfans, alt-right influencers, and alumni of various Trump political and business ventures. There were no prominent elected officials.
“His team was hoping for far more people there and they didn’t get it,” said one senior Republican, who like some others spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions.
Again, I would far prefer it if these people were defecting from Trump out of moral principle rather than political calculation. But to the extent Trumpism is a cult of personality rather than a movement, getting rid of the cult leader would be most helpful.
What shall we call Trumpism when Trump is gone? DeSantisism doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. DeSantisitis is better, but not much. I guess we’ll have to accept things for what they are and call it Republicanism.
When (not if) the same GOP primary voters who gave Republican nominations to Mastriano, Bolduc, Oz, Gibbs, and Lake give the 2024 nom to Trump, all these elites will get back in line. Because, the Democrats are worse (being Satanic pedophiles, doncha know.)
@gVOR08: @Scott F.: GOP slowly turned from a Country Club/Chamber of Commerce party united on anti-communism and small government into a populist party appealing to the baser instincts of the white working class. And, unfortunately, we have a very weak party system such that it’s really hard for the elites to control who gets nominated. It is what it is.
@James Joyner: Those party elites are not innocent, they have been playing to those baser instincts for several decades now. They created then nurtured this monster and were quite fine with it as long as they were calling the shots. Then trump came along and cut the leash. Time will tell how many GOP faces will be eaten by the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party before it is satiated.
Work at a trauma center so its… (Half of my docs get this wrong so I tell them to never use the term and just use bleeding.)
gerund or present participle: hemorrhaging
Gore Vidal couldn’t spell it, either.
@Just nutha ignint cracker:
Or you could say that there are two kinds of Republicans: the New England type who don’t care about much other than saving money, and the southern or midwestern type who gets off on guns ‘n’ God. The former usually has more socials standing and more money and education.
I wonder about this actually. Trump still went for the giant tax cut for the rich, repealing healthcare, pro-corporate judges, and putting industry lobbyists in charge of every department. Seems like the Chamber would still get what they want from a Donny part 2.
@Tim D.: Trump was only interested in being President, not in doing anything with it, except small minded grifts. Governing fell into the hands of McConnell, Ryan, the Federalist Society, and a bureaucracy staffed under the transition plan overseen by Mike Pence, a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries. Was it Karl Rove who said all they needed the president for was to sign his name? That’s about what they got in TFG. Plus parts of a wall they never agreed to fund.
@gVOR08: Agree. Trump was in charge of doing crimes and tweeting. But the country club was still making policy.
There is an argument that Trump must be the nominee in 2024 because he holds the GOP hostage:
A) Trump’s MAGA base (or some of it) might not turn out to vote if he is not nominated.
B) Trump might threaten an independent run if the party holds primaries rather then nominate him by acclamation.
These are strong arguments given the typically craven behavior of GOP pols.
But – if Trump looks like a certain loser if he runs anyway, does it really cost to lose one way instead of another? Trump will look worse after he is indicted and tried – stuff will come out. And his behavior will continue to get worse. Therefore, I think there is a solid chance the GOP bites the bullet and dumps him – or at least holds real primarues, which my guess is he does not win.
Move Heaven and Earth to get DeSantis the nomination, and have Benito as VP.
A lot of these people are already hedging that this is just for the primaries. If Trump wins the nomination, they’ll all fall in line behind him for the general election.
I would contend that one of the reasons our party system is so weak is that GOP elites will inevitably get in line behind their tribe regardless of how misaligned these primary winners are with what the elites want to party brand to be.
If the establishment had turned its back on Kari Lake, for example, she likely would have lost by a significantly larger margin than she did. And of course, drubbings send a different signal than close calls. In the end, primary voters want to win the general and they currently aren’t getting a clear signal that extremism is ultimately a losing proposition for their party.
Now, this approach would mean ceding power to the Democrats, at least for a time. (This is the position that Liz Cheney and other Never-Trumpers have taken.) And that’s not unreasonable when you are rational about who the opposition party really is. But, if your loudest rhetoric categorically states that just two more years of Democratic control will lead to the end of the America you love with forced association with drag queens and teeming hordes of rapists crossing the border, then it is simply impossible to send a signal to their voters that moderation might the better path to power.
@Stormy Dragon: Of course they will. There is a lot of truth in the saying that “Democrats have to fall in love, but Republicans just fall in line.”
Twas always thus, and ever thus shall be.
I suspect that the Chamber of Commerce was not happy with TFG, and will work behind the scenes to sink his chances. Trump’s business efforts are appalling. Taxes are just one facet of a pro business agenda (albeit an important one), but the protectionism is very counter to what businesses want.
I think that the big money will go elsewhere heavily in the primary. A lot of powerful people are not going to want another 4 years of the Master of Chaos.
Which was more or less what happened in 2016.
The real question I think will be how packed the 2024 slate of nominees will be.
@Tim D.: I’ve always seen it as a case of eventually discovering how to graft working class issues onto the basic philosophy. Ironically, part of that success came from unionization lifting some of the working class into the middle class. The real triumph on that front came in splitting off a “f**k solidarity” cohort off with 2-tier contracts and other “innovations.”
@Stormy Dragon: “If Trump wins the nomination, they’ll all fall into line…”
Well duh. What are they gonna do? Stop buying politicians? Vote Democrat? Stay home?
One thing the RNC can do is work to limit how many candidates run in the primaries. This is chancy, as they can’t really compel anyone not to run, nor donors to give money to whomever they choose.
I wonder if a move to award delegates on a more proportional basis would help, and whether the RNC can determine this (and if so, whether it can be done in time for the primaries).
Things would be different now, naturally. In 2016, Benito “won” tons of delegates with only a plurality of 30-40%. In many cases, a full slate of delegates. More people chose someone else, and none of them got a thing.
He was minority candidate in the primaries but won the nomination. then he wa a minority candidate in the general election but won the EC. Anyone with a shred of concern for legitimacy should not want this to be repeated.
While El Cheeto Dos would look after the interests of the big donors and establishment Republiqans, he’s also a big risk to cause massive unrest this time around. For one thing, he’ll want payback on a lot of people, mostly Democratic Representatives, Senators,a dn governors. For another, he will likely appoint a fixer loyal to him as AG, who will get him his revenge fantasy. Things could escalate out of control from there.
IIRC, you need 10%+ of votes to be awarded delegates – should limit how many people are competitive.
In current polling of Republican voter preference, there are only two names polling above 10%. Of course, this could change, for example if DeSantis faceplants.
Who’s he going to appoint? Hasn’t ex-President Lardass alienated almost every sentient being?
There seems to be a bottomless barrel of careerist asshats who don’t understand that Everything Trump Touches Dies.
Speaking of careerist asshats, I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy Barr would accept if offered.
Nonsense. There are millions of people who will take an appointment at those pay grades. Whether a Republican Senate will approve actually incompetent people is another question.
I kind of figured Trump ran through them all between 2017 and 2021.
In order to fully savor licking a boot, one must first briefly resist.
Most of these people are the same ones who wanted someone other than him in 2016, and then fell in line. At this point, they’re hoping he doesn’t do well, but not really.
I wish people wouldn’t play out their degradation fantasies in public like this. Involving other people in your kink non-consensually is icky and wrong.
There must be a large number of true-red Republiqan lawyers eager to score against the Democrats, who would take up the position because their pay would not depend on El Cheeto’s mood. and the boss won’t mind if they grift on the side (and he may not be smart enough to demand a cut).
The biggest argument against Trump is that he seems extremely lethargic, not like the spry man dancing to The Village People at the end of 2020’s election. The biggest argument for him is that the persuadable voters are as sick of the GOP’s shit as they are of Trump’s. There’s something so off-putting about turning on Trump now, and it’s hilariously short-sighted. You can call him a loser, but what are you going to do if he gets indicted for stealing these documents? Call for prison? Or start equivocating with stuff about Hillary and then refuse to comment?
I’ve been wondering over the past week why we didn’t see anything close to this kind of reckoning after either 2018 or 2020. Third time’s a charm, I guess.
I guess that in the case of 2018, Republicans had ways of rationalizing the results and not allowing them to reflect badly on Trump. They told each other, well, presidents usually do poorly in midterms; we actually increased our Senate majority in the supposed “blue wave”; and even the 40-seat loss in the House wasn’t as bad as the 54-seat loss under Clinton or 63 under Obama.
In 2020, there was of course the stolen-election narrative. But even among Republican operatives who never bought into that, there was the narrative that Trump only lost because of the black swan event of the pandemic, and that even then Republicans performed much better than expected and did fairly well downballot. Actually, that last point ought to have reflected poorly on Trump, but it also suggested Trump wasn’t necessarily a drag on the rest of the party.
All these rationalizations were somewhat delusional, but I think they convinced a lot of the “Smart People” in the party that sticking with Trump was still their best bet moving forward.
And now we’re here. I’m still hearing some of the hackiest of conservatives like Hannity trying to spin the results as just fine for the party. After all, they did win the House. But most conservative pundits and even elected Republican office-holders are actually admitting outright they had their asses handed to them, to a degree that surprised even me; I thought acknowledging defeat had become a totally alien concept in the GOP.
What it means to “win” a midterm has always been vague. The perception that emerges after Election Day is always going to be down to who wins the narrative war, and no matter how you try to spin it, it’s going to be affected how well a party did relative to expectations. That is, after all, how they downplayed the Dems’ gains in the previous two cycles. Sure the Dems won, but they didn’t win as big as everyone said they would. That way of looking at things placed the Republicans in a position that made it harder for them to wriggle out of it this time, with their doing way worse than the expectations they themselves had set. And it revealed what most of us have long suspected, which is that a lot of them have wanted to move on from Trump for a long time, they just felt they were stuck with him, and now they see a possible pathway out.
To the right of this article on my screen is this one under “related posts”, https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/the-republican-exodus-from-trump-quickly-becoming-a-stampede/
It’s from 2016.
It’s from June 2016, after Trump was already the presumptive nominee, and therefore the only choice for Republicans that year was Trump or Hillary.
They are not in that situation now.
And how. The Trump of 2016 didn’t have a record to attack and it appears the Murdochs have crossed the Rubicon. DeSantis and FOX against Trump and Social Truth? Doesn’t look good. DeSantis will show up at the debates loaded for boor.
@Kylopod: What’s your point? I don’t see a “Republicans abandoning Trump” story as less meaningful when he’s the only choice. In fact, to me, that makes it more meaningful.
I’m just saying we’ve heard this kind of talk before. It seems reasonable to assume it might be true this time but there’s plenty of time for most of them to get back on the bus before it, hopefully, drives off a cliff.
@CSK: While I will admit that I have no qualifications whatsoever (which may be a positive in and of itself), I have to admit that if I were asked (and the moon turned to blood), the fact that I have no reputation to kill and an income increase of 2 or 3 hundred % might be enough to convince me to sell out for a few years. I’d really have to think it over before I said “no.”
I feel compelled to bring up a caveat to the GQP 2024 race discussion:
We don’t even know who will run or how well.
Cast your mind back to the early days of the 2008 electoral season, before the first primaries happened in 2007, the punditry and the conventional wisdom was for a Clinton vs Giuliani race in November. We got McCain vs Obama instead.
Benito is running for 2024, and he’s off to a slow, lackluster start. The opposition he’s facing int eh GQP, among donors, the would-be state press, etc. is good, but if they alter fall in line then it will become meaningless.
The incentives aren’t the same. Once Trump became the GOP nominee, many Republicans weren’t enthused by him, but he was their only path to gaining power in that election. They may not have been happy about that situation, but the partisan incentives all led in one direction. That is very much not the case now.
And who, may I ask, disagrees with this? Nobody’s saying it’s absolutely certain Trump is finished.
I feel that responses like this are still a sign of lingering 2016 PTSD. It reminds me of 2020. Throughout that year I was constantly seeing comments and articles saying stuff like: “The conventional wisdom is that Trump can’t possibly win again, but people are making the same mistake they made before, underestimating him and getting complacent.” I saw dozens of examples of that sentiment. You know what I never saw? Actual complacency among Democrats. If anything, I saw the opposite extreme: Dems seemed in a near state of panic over the election, and most people were bending over backwards to acknowledge Trump’s very real chances of winning again. Yet it was like you couldn’t express the tiniest hint of optimism about the election without being accused of complacency. You’d say “I think Biden is probably going to win,” and you’d invariably get the response, “They said the same thing about Hillary.” And these statements always came with this tone like they were the lone voice of reason, as if the majority of people had learned absolutely nothing from 2016 and were still stuck in the Trump-can’t-possibly-win mindset.
I get the same vibe from the past week seeing the scores of Republicans apparently turning against Trump. There are significant differences between what’s happening now and previous times when it looked like Republicans might be on the verge of abandoning Trump before turning around and getting in line. For one thing, they have more choices now; it’s not like they’re in a situation where they have to sacrifice their chances in an upcoming election in order to get rid of Trump. And there’s evidence actual Republican voters are open to moving on from him. Some recent polls have shown DeSantis beating Trump in a head-to-head primary matchup.
Will this be sustained? Well, the other night my parents asked me who I thought the 2024 GOP nominee would be, and I said I thought it would most likely be Trump. So make no mistake: I’m very much not sold on the idea that he’s going down or that DeSantis is the next big thing. But I have very particular reasons why I think this way, and one thing I am absolutely not falling into is the old knee-jerk Trump-is-unstoppable-in-the-GOP-and-will-destroy-anyone-who-lays-a-glove-on-him. I feel like people who think that way are committing the gambler’s fallacy, thinking a winning streak will never end, like those Hollywood producers who thought Star Wars films could never fail until Solo came along.
DeSantis is a full on fascist.
In a speech at the beginning of his term, he said that our entire system of public education, kindergarten through grad school, was “nothing but leftist indoctrination.” I guess he agrees with a Roger A. Freeman, who as an advisor to Reagan and Nixon stated at a press conference that free education was bad because America was in danger of “producing an educated proletariat.” Joe Goebbels explained this attitude long ago, as he is reputed to have said that propaganda should always be aimed at the uneducated, since the educated are not persuadable.
The idiocies Ronnie has presided over as our Clown Prince of Floridastan, from the Martha’s Vineyard show to the “Stop Woke Act” to his election police arresting people who had valid voter ID cards while ignoring real voter fraud in the Villages, to his bad-mouthing COVID vaccines that has made Florida a sanctuary state for the virus and all its evolving variants. (The death rates are accordingly high, particularly among the law enforcement officers who came at DeSantis’s invitation when they were fired elsewhere over a vaccine mandate. Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID has been the greatest cop-killer in Florida as in the rest of the country, by a ratio of two to one over all other causes combined. DeSantis touts his pro-business approach to COVID policy as he considers it a great accomplishment.)
Like Trump, Ronnie has shown little interest in actually doing the hard work of governing since it does little to polish his halo among his base and it’s just no fun.
When I think of DeSantis I think of the late Fred Thompson, who looked like an ideal candidate for president until the country got a good look at him.
If you hate democracy, as all white supremacists do, then Ronnie is your boy.