There’s a high-level GOP “plot” brewing to stop Donald Trump from winning the 2024 presidential nomination, according to a new POLITICO report that, aside from a few recent details, reads like it could have been written in 2015.
A big-money GOP donor and bundler who was an “early and enthusiastic supporter of Trump” the first time around, gave an insider’s view of insider thinking this time around:
Even one-time staunch supporters of the former president are reluctant to say out loud what they and their cohort all say privately: That should the former president win the primary again, he would be very likely to lose again to Joe Biden, even as some polls show him besting his 2020 rival.
“With the Iowa Caucus now just 11 months away,” the report continues, “party insiders say that this question — how to stop Trump — is the one they need to find an answer to before too many contenders start piling into the race.”
Do you know who really hates it when monied insiders try to rig one of the country’s few genuinely democratic processes?
Yes, the huge field of GOP candidates in 2016 probably did help Trump secure the nomination, but I don’t think it was the decisive element. Even as the field quickly whittled down to just Trump and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Trump continued to score wins.
If I had to guess what the deciding element was, it was just how conventional most of the other 16 candidates were. A large plurality, at least, of Republican voters was sick and tired of the party’s status quo. Trump could be unappealing in certain ways, even nasty. But one thing he was not was more of the same.
POLITICO reminds readers of this infamous bit of intraparty fighting: “‘If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed,’ later Trump acolyte Lindsey Graham notoriously tweeted. ‘And we will deserve it.’”
That said, Trump 2024 does give cause for concern.
The story quotes GOP fundraiser Eric Levine saying, “He is the first president since Hoover to lose the House, the Senate, and the presidency in a single term.”
Whether 2020 was stolen or not, Trump was clearly caught flatfooted by the shenanigans (I’m being uncharacteristically generous with my word choice) and never really recovered. His plea for peace on January 6 came late (Job Biden went on TV first) and he appeared shaken.
Hell, we were all shaken that day.
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I have to wonder, though, if Trump has yet to recover from his — and our — annus horribilis.
The once-and-perhaps-future POTUS kicked off his second reelection campaign (how many presidents get to do that) in November, but fundraising remains lackluster. Time magazine reported earlier this month that the one-time “fundraising juggernaut” is off to a weaker start. “As The New York Times smartly assessed,” Time said, “Trump’s pace trailed by half the first-round reports from the likes of Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, and Hillary Clinton.”
In a similar story about Trump’s “scramble” to “ramp up [his] cash machine,” the Washington Examiner noted at the end of January that “Trump has made sparse appearances on the campaign trail.”
I noted weeks ago that if Trump wasn’t holding rallies, which cost a lot to stage, it was a sign about his early fundraising. It will indeed not be a strong FEC filing later tonight, via Jon Allen and @MarcACaputo https://t.co/9a6LmoSHN6
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) January 31, 2023
Indeed, it was not a strong filing.
I was about to dismiss Trump’s slow fundraising as a side effect of announcing early, but as NBC reported, “the former president raised $9.5 million over the final six weeks of 2022 — less than he raised the six weeks before his launch.”
Emphasis added because it makes you wonder: Did announcing his third presidential campaign somehow dampen people’s willingness to send money? On the surface, at least, that’s what it looks like.
Even Trump’s zingers seem to have lost some of their sting, with him reportedly privately referring to Florida Governor (and potential rival) Ron DeSantis as “Meatball Ron.”
My biggest concern, as I’ve shared with you here before, about Trump vs. Biden Round II is that Democrats would make the campaign a referendum on Trump rather than a referendum on Biden’s failed administration.
My biggest concern now is that that’s exactly what Trump wants to do.
While I can’t entirely blame him, Trump can’t seem to let go of 2020 — and voters want to look forward, not backward. The formerly breezy reality show host now has an attitude that critics and rivals will paint as a “Sore Loser.” Between that and his currently lackluster campaign, you have to wonder if Trump’s biggest enemy isn’t a cabal of big-money GOP insiders but The Donald himself.