Republicans divided as Trump kicks off 2024 bid
Republican figures appeared split Tuesday night in their responses to former President Trump’s announcement of a third bid for the presidency, with some hailing him as the GOP’s rightful leader and others claiming he should step back from the spotlight.
Close Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) endorsed the former president’s candidacy before his official announcement at a Mar-a-Lago event, retweeting her previous statements once Trump publicly shared his intention to run.
“President Trump has my full endorsement and my support as our Republican nominee in 2024,” wrote Greene, sharing a clip from the event where Trump promised to put “America first” if elected a second time.
GOP Reps. Troy Nehls (Rexas) and Andy Biggs (Ariz.) also endorsed the former president, with Nehls sharing a clip of Trump saying: “America’s comeback starts RIGHT NOW.”
“President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party,” said Biggs. “Let’s Make America Great Again.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) did not express outright support for Trump, but did applaud the political strategy used by the former president in his announcement.
“If President Trump continues this tone and delivers this message on a consistent basis, he will be hard to beat,” Graham wrote on Twitter. “His speech tonight, contrasting his policies and results against the Biden Administration, charts a winning path for him in the primaries and general election.”
Other Republican officials, however, including retiring Govs. Larry Hogan of Maryland and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, rejected Trump’s candidacy and predicted that he would fail as the 2024 GOP nominee.
“Doubling down on losing isn’t just foolish. It’s a gift to the Democrats,” wrote Hogan. “It is time to turn the page.”
Hutchinson said that “there are better choices” for a Republican nominee in the upcoming presidential election cycle, sharply criticizing the former president’s character.
“Trump is correct on Biden’s failures, but his self-indulging message promoting anger has not changed. It didn’t work in 2022 and won’t work in 2024,” wrote the governor.
Multiple members of the GOP establishment have cooled on Trump somewhat in the wake of last week’s midterm elections, which had disappointed party faithful expecting a red wave.
Prominent Republican Jeb Bush Jr. slammed Trump as “weak,” referring to him “#SleepyDonnie.”
“What a low energy speech by the Donald. Time for new leaders!” wrote Bush as he called for “leadership that unites.”
Former staffers from Trump’s own administration also cast doubt on his choice to run, including former White House director of strategic communications Alyssa Farah, deputy press secretary Sarah Matthews and chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.
“This started as, again, sort of professional, it was sort of on-script at first, but then just interspersing it with just outright lies, dabbling into conspiracy that maybe China had something to do with the midterms, something I haven’t even seen on the dark corners of the internet,” Farah said on CNN.
She continued: “No credible person in the Republican Party wanted this announcement today, but this is going to get legs. We are going to be covering him for the next two years and again there’s a non-zero chance he could be president again.”
On Twitter, Farah said that Trump is “wholly unfit for office and a clear and present danger to democracy.”
Matthews called her former boss’s address “one of the most low-energy, uninspiring speeches I’ve ever heard from Trump.”
“Not exactly what you want when announcing a presidential run,” she added.
“More than half an hour and still almost entirely on script. If he had stayed on script in 2020, he would have won,” Mulvaney commented during the speech.
“It will be interesting to see how long he can do it now. And I don’t mean just tonight.”