Republicans Presidential 2024 Election May Face Another Donald Trump Regime

“Most openly racial campaign by a president since Andrew Johnson,” said Stuart Stevens, a Republican consultant who recently published “It Was All a Lie,” a history of the party’s reliance on Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” over the last half-century. “Trump ran openly on racial grievance. It was expanded beyond the Southern Strategy, as it was hatred and fear of Muslims, Hispanics and Blacks.”

Republicans presidential 2024 election may face another Donald Trump regime, considering White House runs in a post Trump world evaluated one another as a potential opponent, there appears one name who could mess up all of their planning.

The GOP is ready to officially elect the president for a second term Monday evening, but some in the party are already looking ahead 48 months, to the nomination of 2024. Arkansas’ Tom Cotton, Texas’ Ted Cruz, and Missouri’s Josh Hawley are some of the senators thought to be observing a bid, as are the two from Florida, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, and a number of Republican governors.

However, in a party that has become more about President Donald Trump than what Republicans used to refer to it as guiding principles, the president’s most loyal supporters could well belong to his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

At a gathering at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in late February, Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, were hands down the most popular warmup speakers, even receiving an extended roar as they walked to and from the camera riser for a pre-rally interview.

When he got on the stage a short time later, a chant of “46” stood up from the 15,000 a reference to the president who will follow his father. Trump Jr. smiled but did not try to dishearten them.

“Let’s focus on 2020 first. Eyes on the prize, all right? But thank you,” he said from the stage.

The next day, he and Guilfoyle were at a gathering in Las Vegas, again winning over the crowd. “He’s so energetic on stage,” said Nevada Republican Chairman Michael McDonald.

“I’d vote for him in a second,” said Lou Woodward, 57, who owns a construction business in Massachusetts and who saw Trump Jr. encouraging the crowd for his father in Manchester, New Hampshire, earlier in February. “If he’s anything like his father, he’ll be fantastic.”

“He’s from the same mold,” said retiree Linda Payette as she waited in the concession line in the Southern New Hampshire University’s hockey arena. “They tell it like it is. They don’t sugarcoat it.”

And since in-person rallies largely concluded, Trump Jr. has become even more omnipresent in the reelection campaign, hosting a weekly live-streamed program and making usual appearances on Fox News.

McDonald said he can easily imagine the son attempting to win his father in office. “With the following he has right now? No, I would not be surprised,” McDonald said. “He has what it takes, 1,000% he has what it takes.”

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Still, what President Donald Trump and his family might want and what Republican voters want are mostly two different things, said John Ryder, a former top Republican National Committee member from Tennessee. “The same reason that Jeb Bush was a bad idea and Hillary Clinton was a bad idea, Don Jr. is a bad idea. The American public is not attracted to dynasties,” he said. “I think that would be very, very difficult to make that case to the American people.”

Trump Jr., who is 42-years-old and works for his father’s family business, the Trump Organization, refused to answer questions last week. “Go through my guys,” he said, but then declined to say which “guys” he referred to and then hung up.

Florida Republican consultant and important Trump attacker Rick Wilson, though, said party regulars who assume they will easily recover control from Trump after he leaves the White House are mistaken.

“This is the dawn of the age of the imperial Trumps. He is going to say, ‘Donald J. Trump Jr., my son and heir, is the only one who can continue in my footsteps,’” he said. “They are a dynastic political force now. It’s douchebag dynasty of the Trump family.”

The Republican Party was at a crossroads when Trump took it 2016. The party had, as pointed out in its own “autopsy” of the 2012 defeat of elected Mitt Romney, didn’t win the popular vote in five of the six most previous presidential elections. It had suggested an aggressive outreach to Latinos and other minorities to make the party competitive for the day in the not-too-distant future when white people will no longer make up a majority of the country.

But President Donald Trump, a reality TV game show host who had never so much as worked in a local precinct when he ran for president against what had been regarded a strong field of contenders, instead took the demand opposite approach. He played to white grievance politics and screamed the racially-based appeals that recent Republicans since 1968 had mentioned to with winks and nods.

“Most openly racial campaign by a president since Andrew Johnson,” said Stuart Stevens, a Republican consultant who recently published “It Was All a Lie,” a history of the party’s reliance on Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” over the last half-century. “Trump ran openly on racial grievance. It was expanded beyond the Southern Strategy, as it was hatred and fear of Muslims, Hispanics, and Blacks.”

President Donald Trump immediately closed the segment of the Republican primary electorate for whom concerns about America’s changing demographics were a major worry and hurt riding that group to the nomination, as a dozen other more traditional Republicans carved up the remaining voters.

His unanticipated win made many of the same party leaders who had signed on to the 2012 “autopsy” decide that perhaps Trump had found a better way to a majority: appealing to white, working-class voters in northern and Midwestern states.

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One top RNC official, speaking on condition of the unknown, supported the party’s neglection under Trump of its long-held rules like free trade and close alliances with NATO. He revealed that Trump, unlike the previous two Republican nominees, had actually become president. “Our job is to win,” he told HuffPost in 2017. “We won.”

Since then, Trump’s hold on the party machinery has extended ever more complete. Republicans live in terror of a Trump remark or a Twitter post belittling them because of his still-powerful hold over his supporters. At the local and state party levels, longtime Republican activists have been pushed out and replaced by Trump loyalists. And the RNC has basically become an arm of Trump’s family business and a benefactor to his children.

A firm owned by Brad Parscale, jointly funded by the RNC and the Trump campaign proper, secretly pays Guilfoyle and Lara Trump, the wife of middle son Eric, $15,000 a month each. The RNC also has been buying large quantities of books written by Trump Jr. as premiums to give to donors, providing him many tens of thousands of dollars.

And the party, Trump’s campaign, and their two joint fundraising committees have, from the time he took office through June 30, spent $6.9 million at Trump properties even though they are usually more expensive than competing hotels and resorts in the same area putting donor money right back into Trump’s cash registers.

When questioned, RNC members have told HuffPost they enjoy visiting Trump’s properties.

“It’s no longer a party. It’s a cult,” said Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who ran against Trump for the 2020 nomination.

Now, 10 weeks out from Election Day, the Republican Party faces an existential moment. A Trump win will almost certainly combine further his hold on the 166-year-old organization and likely make it easier for him to choose his own successor, including his own son.

“I think Don Jr. would be the favorite for the nomination,” said Stevens, who worked on the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.

Even a Trump loss, though, does not necessarily end his hold over the party. Unlike previous presidents who didn’t win after one term Democrat Jimmy Carter, Republican George H.W. Bush there is no sign Trump would simply throw in the towel from politics.

“He will not stop tweeting. He will not stop talking. He will go on Fox all the time, or he will form his own TV network,” Wilson said.

He added that the Republican senators who have been indulging to Trump’s base by speaking like him and applauding him are in for a rude surprise. “It’s a hideous landscape of wannabes who will be posting up against the son of God,” he said. “Just see what happens. It’s a family-centric cult.”

One former White House aide foreseen a horrific battle between the wing that has fashioned itself after Donald Trump Cotton and Hawley, for example, against the more traditional Republicans like Rubio or former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. “I think it goes into a civil war. They’re all going to be at each other’s throats,” he said on condition of unknown, adding that he distrusted Trump Jr. would make a serious play for the nomination. “I think he’s smart enough to stay away from it.”

But an informal White House adviser close to Trump said he definitely could see Trump Jr. jumping in. “I think he’s really good at it. I think he’s good for the base. I wouldn’t underestimate him in 2024,” he said, also on condition of unknown. “What are we going to do, roll in a Pence or a Rick Scott or some boring-as-shit white guy and get our asses kicked? So there’s a part of me that says, sure, why not.”

Of course, determined on what happens in November, Trump Jr. is not automatically the only Donald Trump that might want to lead in 2024.

Brian McDowell, who emerged on the third season of President Trump’s reality TV game show “The Apprentice” a decade and a half ago and now sells Trump merchandise at rallies, said the president losing this autumn just proves he has the chance to run again.

“If Trump loses? He runs again in four years,” McDowell said.

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