Donald Trump's iron grip on the GOP: Why Republicans stick with him
President Trump speaks during a panel discussion at Gateway Church in Dallas on Thursday. (Alex Brandon / Associated Press)
After Randall Ritnour, a lifelong Republican in Lincoln, Neb., Attacked President Trump in a video, his own brother sentenced him. Ryan Rapier, a Republican in Thatcher, Arizona, who announced that he would vote for Joe Biden, feared that this could cost him his seat on the city council. When Jennifer Horn, former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, was photographed with Biden, a GOP committee lifted a special service award it had given her.
It has never been easy to be an anti-Trump Republican, and even now that the president is going through a dark political hour, it is not easier.
Trump's position in almost all public polls is waning. He sparked racist tensions after the murder of George Floyd. He has suffered unprecedented criticism from former military leaders.
Still, Trump's influence on the Republican Party remains so strong that only a handful of elected GOP officials have publicly criticized him for fear of putting down the anger of the president or his supporters.
After each controversial episode - using violence against mostly peaceful demonstrators in a park in front of the White House to give Trump the opportunity to stage a photo opportunity, then his tweets, which promote the unsubstantiated claim that a 75-year-old Buffalo A leftist provocateur, who was pretended to be pushed, was beaten down by the police and bled. TV cameras in the Capitol have held a parade of Senate Republicans who passed by and refused to comment.
"There is no political incentive for elected Republicans to leave his side," said Brendan Buck, a former advisor to House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had a troubled relationship with Trump before leaving Congress in 2019.
"Members of Congress are not afraid of Trump. They are afraid of their voters and voters, "said Buck." As long as he has a stranglehold on them and can communicate directly with them, this will not change. "
There have been some exceptions, but the tiny number of opposition figures symbolize how fully Trump has taken over the Republican Party - and, as some fear, it could be in ruins if he loses in 2020.
"He has put us on the wrong side of every emerging population," said a senior Republican in Congress who asked not to be mentioned and discussed fears about Trump.
"Donald Trump doesn't think long term. The future of the Republican Party is very important to me, and it needs serious work."
Trump has maintained support for most Republicans so far, also because he has introduced tax cuts, deregulation and other traditional GOP priorities and they refuse to give up power to an increasingly leftist Democratic Party.
A Monmouth University poll earlier this month found that Biden led Trump with 52% to 41%, and 93% of Republicans said they voted for Trump, and 84% said he was positive.
The cornerstone of Trump's re-election campaign is to focus more on mobilizing his base than expanding his appeal.
"He leads a historically united party," said Tim Murtaugh, Trump's campaign spokesman.
Still, some of his supporters acknowledge that Trump's prospects were abruptly shaken by the economic and health crises triggered by the pandemic and the wave of protests after a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd.
When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich completed the first draft of a book about Trump in February, he said the tone was "triumphant." He had to rewrite it ever since.
"Boom, everything exploded," he said.
"It is very difficult for Trump to win a personality campaign between Trump and Biden," said Gingrich, who urges the Republicans to redefine 2020 as the choice between Trump and a radical, anarchic opposition party.
The high political mortality rate among previous Trump critics helps to suppress GOP dissenters: Rep. Mark Sanford from South Carolina and Sens. Jeff Flake from Arizona, Kelly Ayotte from New Hampshire and Bob Corker from Tennessee have all been defeated or retired driven.
"The Republicans who spoke out against the president had serious election results," said Sanford, who lost his seat in the House of Representatives after Trump supported his main opponent in 2018.
Those who have dared to criticize Trump are mostly unelected or retired Republicans or elected officials with a particularly secure political base.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) welcomed an extraordinary criticism of Trump from former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis last week, saying she has "problems" with voting for Trump in 2020. Trump promised this in a tweet campaign against her when she stands for re-election in 2022.
But Murkowski was able to shake off the threat because she has a strong brand in Alaska - her father was a long-time senator and governor - and a distinctive political base: she was elected as a candidate in 2010 after losing the GOP area code to a team. Party challenger; She won the GOP nomination in a landslide in 2016.
Another Republican who has repeatedly criticized Trump with impunity is Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming. She has objected to his proposed troop reductions in Germany and Syria, as well as his recent tweets that promote an unfounded conspiracy theory about MSNBC host Joe Scarborough. Even so, Trump or his Twitter account hasn't posted a bad word about them.
Cheney, a member of the house's GOP leadership, is little afraid of political clashes in his home country, although Trump is very popular in Wyoming. She benefits from a political background: she is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who previously represented Wyoming in the House of Representatives.
"She's not afraid of Donald Trump," said Alan Simpson, a former Wyoming GOP senator. "She won't lose a single voice."
Utah Senator Mitt Romney has criticized Trump's tweets, joined a Black Lives Matter march, and was the only Republican to vote against Trump during his impeachment process. Romney basks in the political freedom of a 73-year-old former presidential candidate who comes from a red state where Trump is unusually unpopular.
Maine's Susan Collins, one of the most vulnerable Senate Republicans to be re-elected in 2020, was also one of those who criticized Trump's recent photocall after protesters were violently evacuated from Lafayette Square in front of the White House. She deliberately stayed away from her home state when he visited last week. But perhaps as a concession to her fragile political position in a swing state, Trump didn't criticize her for it.
Horn, who founded an anti-Trump political action committee called the Lincoln Project with other discontented Republicans, is dismayed by the political fear that Trump will grab so many members of the party.
"It is outrageous that so few elected Republicans have had the courage to do the right thing," she said. The group reaped a fundraiser after Trump attacked them on Twitter after seeing a crushing ad.
Some anti-Trump Republicans have almost given up trying to convince elected officials to go public with their cause. Instead, longtime Trump critics - including Bill Kristol, a conservative writer, and Tim Miller, who advised former governor Jeb Bush's 2016 presidential campaign - have created a new group, Republican Voters Against Trump, that focuses on mobilizing the simple GOP Voter.
The group is asking people to submit iPhone videos with anti-Trump testimonials that will turn into $ 10 million digital and broadcast ads.
Participants say they are experiencing a setback not only because they oppose Trump, but even more because they support Biden.
"They shake their heads, they think I'm crazy," said Rintour, a former district attorney, referring to his Republican friends.
Rapier, who won his seat on the city council with just seven votes, wonders if his 2020 decline would persecute him the next time he runs for election in his ruby-colored community.
"But I felt I couldn't be someone leaning back with my mouth closed and shaking my head in amazement," he said. "I had to say something"
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