Is there a possibility Donald Trump may not be the Republican party’s nominee?
Consider there are now three Republicans primarying him for the 2020 nomination: former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, former Massachusetts governor and 2016 vice-presidential Libertarian candidate Bill Weld, and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.
Some may scoff at the suggestion any one of them stand a chance upsetting a Republican establishment mostly rallying around Trump, regardless of the damage he is doing to it. The chances of the RNC nominating anyone other than the incumbent is pretty unlikely, and canceling primaries to strengthen an incumbent’s chance for re-election is not unprecedented.
Nonetheless, blatant maneuvers to block primary challengers suggest Republicans may not be so confident this time.
Trump advisers point to a history of this for incumbent presidents, noting the money state parties save.
This current president’s primary opponents, however, are interpreting this as an effort to rig the process in Trump’s favor.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh said:
“Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states. It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.
“Primary elections are important, competition within parties is good, and we intend to be on the ballot in every single state no matter what the RNC and Trump allies try to do. We also intend to loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.”
Former South Carolina Gov. Sanford–whose own state canceled its primary–commented:
“I think all of us should find it a little bit curious. In the world of politics, if you can stack up a 90% win, you go with it, particularly if it’s the first in the South primary, given the signals it will send to subsequent states and subsequent primaries that will take place that will follow South Carolina. But they elected not to do that.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld added:
“We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.”
Trump officials admit the objective is to ease president’s re-election so he avoids the internal opposition that dogged former President George H.W. Bush in 1992, who lost his re-election to Bill Clinton, because, as Weld said in an NPR interview:
“Every time a president has had an opponent within their own party…that president has gone on to lose the general election.”
Bush’s internal opponent was Pat Buchanan, who earned enough delegates to earn a prominent speaking slot at the GOP convention.
Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter each faced primary opponents and lost re-election.
Republican state party chairs traditionally play a remote role in picking delegates. Trump political aides Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, however, held a conference call with state chairs to describe the campaign’s mission and discuss several outcomes.
“The goal is to have the convention be an advertisement of who we are as a party, as a unified party, to 300-plus million Americans, not an internal battle of the 15,000 people in the arena.”
In 2016, “Never Trump Republicans” pronounced their opposition to Trump’s nomination on television from the convention floor.
Utah Sen. Mitt Romney is one of several party favorites questioning Trump’s fitness for the office he holds.
Another is Bill Kristol, who stated:
“They’re more worried than they let on. If you are confident, if you’re Donald Trump, if these are just minor irritants, you know what, you beat them all, you crush them all in the primaries, and everyone says, ‘Wow, look how strong Donald Trump is.’ If you’re shutting down primaries, you’re a little nervous about how the dynamic of these primary challenges could go.”
Kristol admits the likelihood of Trump being denied the nomination is unlikely, yet he hopes the primary challenges wound Trump enough he loses momentum.
We’ve experienced some pretty interesting political shocks the past few years. Just look at Trump’s impossible “election.”
Consider that according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 25 states are considering legislation requiring presidential and vice-presidential candidates release their tax returns in order to appear on primary or general election ballots.
Could any Donald Trump’s primary opponents actually stand a chance of bucking convention?
At the very least, Trump may receive the body blow he deserves to limp into the general election against a truly progressive Democratic nominee.
Then we take back the Senate.
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