The result is a party in a holding pattern — one incapable of starting its long-term planning for 2022 or beyond until Trump makes up his mind, according to interviews with 13 current or former administration officials, party operatives and Republican donors. And even if Trump does make a swift decision to run, the GOP will then be beholden to the ex-president’s whims.
“If he starts holding grudges against sitting officeholders and donors who decline to throw their support behind him, it is going to put Republicans in a bind,” said Jon Thompson, a former Trump aide who left the president’s reelection campaign earlier this year.
In sum, it could be a taxing few years for Republicans, with GOP institutions that are expected to remain neutral having to grapple with Trump’s grip on millions of voters, not to mention the insults he hurls at those who fail the loyalty tests…
One person close to the president said Republicans who are up for reelection in 2022 will find “that it is impossible to run a successful campaign if you are not on Team Trump,” adding that this standard will apply even if the president has not announced a 2024 run. Several people familiar with Trump’s thinking said the president fully intends to stay active in politics upon leaving office, unlike Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who mostly stayed out of the spotlight during their first few years of retirement.