At least four Republicans are considering getting into the 2020 race to mount a primary challenge to President Trump. The Washington Post reports that Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford, Jeff Flake, and John Kasich are all either testing the waters themselves or being encouraged by others to consider taking the plunge.
The anti-Trump movement inside the Republican Party — long a political wasteland — is feeling new urgency to mount a credible opposition to Trump before it’s too late. With state deadlines for nominating contests rapidly approaching in the fall, potential candidates face pressure to decide on running within the next few weeks. So far, only former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld has declared that he is running, but he has struggled to gain traction.
Republicans considering bids, as well as those trying to draft other candidates, acknowledge that defeating Trump appears to be nearly impossible but argue that a recession or an unforeseen change in the political climate could weaken him enough to make a primary challenge more than a Never Trump fantasy.
“Anybody who says, ‘I think I can beat Donald Trump,’ I think is stretching it,” Sanford said. “It’s a daunting task and it is indeed preposterous at many different levels.”
Preposterous is the right word for it. No challenger to Trump is going to do more than make a few predictable headlines from the usual outlets looking for another angle to damage Trump. But candidates like Sanford suggest that may be worthwhile if it creates “a national conversation on what it means to be a Republican these days.” But the real goal here would be to serve as a spoiler. In fact, the piece points out that the challengers best chance to raise money probably comes from Democrats:
Many traditional Republican donors already are backing Trump, but anti-Trump organizers are courting wealthy independents or even liberals to contribute in the GOP primary, if only to bruise the president and help the eventual Democratic nominee in the general election.
Of course, there already is one Republican running against Trump. Bill Weld has staked his campaign on winning the New Hampshire primary. But a recent CNN poll of the race in New Hampshire showed Weld at just 7 percent. Weld is doing so poorly that Trump hasn’t even bothered to give him a nickname. Adding a few more challengers might split that 7 percent several ways but it won’t result in a drastic decline in Trump’s support.
Here’s Bill Weld making his pitch on CNN yesterday: