Assuming Trump doesn’t run again and we end up with a field of contenders in 2024, the most interesting question asked during the primary debates will be this: “Do you believe Joe Biden is the legitimately elected president of the United States?”
How many Republican hopefuls will be willing to tell their base a hard truth even four years removed from the “stop the steal” effort? Of those who refuse, how many will vote to acquit Trump at the impeachment trial next month claiming that it’s “divisive” to want to impose consequences for a coup attempt that was supported by a two-month disinformation campaign?
All Romney wants is consistency. If you’re worried about the trial being divisive, you should worry that lying to your own voters about a national election having been rigged is a wee little bit divisive too.
“You have many of the Trump supporters in elected office, senators, congresspeople, governors, continuing to say the same thing, that the election was stolen,” Romney said.
But, he said, what they should tell people is that the Trump campaign “had a chance to take their message to the courts, the courts laughed them out of court. I’ve seen no evidence that suggests that there was widespread voter fraud.”…
“I say, first of all, have you gone out publicly and said that there was not widespread voter fraud and that Joe Biden is the legitimate president of the United States? If you said that, then I’m happy to listen to you talk about other things that might inflame anger and divisiveness,” he said.
“But if you haven’t said that, that’s really what’s at the source of the anger right now.”
No “stop the steal” lie, no “divisiveness” about the outcome of the election, no attack on the Capitol. No injuries for 100+ cops either:
Capitol police Union: 140 officers injured in Jan. 6 mob attack.
Officers without helmets “sustained brain injuries. One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake” pic.twitter.com/3x2JyhIiDh
— Luke Broadwater ☀️ (@lukebroadwater) January 27, 2021
Looking ahead, I wonder if the pressure from MAGA on aspiring nominees to toe the line on believing the election was stolen will create space for a candidate to disrupt the primary by insisting on the truth. I’m thinking of Chris Christie, who’s spent the past four months dropping truth bombs on Trump and his supporters and isn’t ruling out running. Christie’s not going to win the nomination by telling Trump voters things they refuse to believe, but he’s the sort of figure who could grab the 20 percent or so of the party that’s eager to see Trump exit politics and the GOP start a new chapter. “Who won the election?” could be an important dividing line in 2024 and there won’t be many candidates to compete with Christie on his side of that line. He might talk himself into believing that being a truthteller is his ticket to prevailing over a huge splintered field of populist contenders. He’d be wrong, but that primary could be interesting in terms of how Republican voters react to him.
Speaking of the 2024 primary, Trump’s handpicked RNC chief, Ronna McDaniel, sounds like she’s not ready to do much to make sure he’s the party’s choice for a third cycle in a row:
“The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.”…
In the interview, McDaniel called for Republican unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is traveling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest ranking House Republican that supported Trump’s impeachment.
“If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said.
Nothing would be more “divisive” than the former president and his cronies waging a civil war against the party’s few remaining anti-Trumpers in 2022, but according to news reports Trump is eager to do it. McDaniel’s using what little clout she has to discourage it, and also to reestablish the party’s image as somewhat distinct from Trump’s. But that’s conditional on him allowing her to do so. All he needs to do is put out the word that she’s become “disloyal” and she’ll be telling people in no time that he should be the 2024 nominee by acclamation. No primaries necessary.
I’ll leave you with this, something else for the ol’ “divisiveness” folder.
For @just_security, @rgoodlaw and I analyzed dozens of hours of Parler videos scraped from the site of the events of January 6th at the US Capitol. They reveal the psychology of the crowd, and how its violent behavior was a direct result Trump’s rhetoric. https://t.co/EW9Ro9zOZE pic.twitter.com/xG9E9Rb03S
— Justin Hendrix (@justinhendrix) January 25, 2021