There’s something soooo familiar about this.
Oh, right. Last year the same group called for Coulter to primary Trump. Slight difference this time, though: They’re no longer politely asking her to announce her candidacy. They’re trying to organize grassroots support on her behalf and give her a running start.
— William Gheen (@ALIPAC) January 24, 2019
I wrote about the prospect of a Coulter primary challenge to Trump a few days ago. It was a good idea last year and it’s a good idea now! No more fantasy football for populist media heroes. Let ’em put on a helmet and show POTUS how it should be done.
“There are millions of Trump voters like me who will never vote for him again because we believe America can only be saved and secured by honest men and women who treasure the truth and keep their campaign promises,” said William Gheen, President of ALIPAC. “I hope Ann Coulter will give serious consideration to running against Trump in the primary and run on a MAGA platform offering conservative voters a pledge to keep her promises…. unlike Trump!”
William Gheen believes that an “Ann Coulter for President” campaign may encourage Trump and his left-wing advisors like Jared Kushner to fall back on or abandon their plans to create millions of new Democrat voters through Amnesty legislation for Democrats, Republican employers, and illegal aliens.
Gheen believes Ann Coulter has the national name recognition, a written record on immigration and other conservative issues, debate skills, and the integrity to mount a strong run for President.
Gheen’s being cute in laying off Trump’s interest in a DACA deal on Kushner. Jared certainly does play a role, especially lately, but last year’s offer of full amnesty for DREAMers in return for the wall plus some limits on legal immigration wasn’t a pure Kushner production. There are endless comments from Trump dating back three years or more hinting about having a “big heart” for DREAMers. Primarying him over his willingness to grant some sort of relief to DACA recipients would be especially amusing in that, although the most fervent part of Trump’s base dislikes the idea, huge majorities favor it in poll after poll. It’d be the perfect populist wedge issue: Who’s Trump going to listen to, the innermost core of grassroots righties or … the other 65 percent of the country he represents?
It could work out well for everyone too. It would give populists a way to flex their muscle and pressure POTUS on their pet issues but it also might make center-righties who are leery of Trump a bit more comfortable with voting for him again, reminding them that he’s by no means the most hardline exemplar of the right. “But wait,” you say, “primary challenges always end up hurting incumbent presidents. This would hurt, not help, Trump by reducing his chances of reelection.” To which I say: Maybe. It’s true that that’s how it’s worked out historically. But none of the presidents in recent history who were successfully weakened by primary challenges had anything resembling the cult of personality that Trump enjoys. Gerald Ford didn’t. Jimmy Carter didn’t. George H.W. Bush didn’t. On the contrary, each was a centrist without an ardent base of support among any wing of their party. They were vulnerable to an impassioned challenger. Trump really isn’t. “He fights!”, remember?
To believe that Coulter primarying Trump would damage him next fall, you need to believe that her message will not only turn part of his base against him but that they’ll stay turned through Election Day. Through all of the Democratic nominee’s attacks on him, through all of the daily reminders from Trump’s campaign about the promises he’s kept, through all of the messaging that staying home means handing the Supreme Court to the left, through all of the inevitably infuriating biased media coverage of the election. To hurt him you’d need to somehow convince people who’d vote for him if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue to resolutely refuse to vote for him because he didn’t get them funding for a wall which they didn’t seem to care much about through two solid years of total Republican control of government. Good luck.
If Ford, Carter, or Bush had operated in an era of negative partisanship as intense as the current one, they might very well have held their bases and won. (Well, probably not Carter.) But hey: If worse comes to worst and a Coulter primary challenge does end up costing Trump the election, at least we’ll have the spectacle of hardcore populists trying to explain why it was high treason for NeverTrumpers to stay home in 2016 and risk handing the White House to the left but perfectly patriotic for border hawks to do so in 2020. I hope she takes him on. She’d give him hell.