Former President Trump continues to dig a deeper hole for himself in the first few weeks of his latest bid for the White House.
Trump, who was slammed last week by several high-profile conservatives for eating with a white nationalist, got himself in trouble again this weekend when he claimed that Twitter’s handling of a controversial story about Hunter Biden was once again discussed. implied that parts of the constitution would have to be ignored so that he can return to the White House.
Some Republicans already viewed Trump with skepticism after many of his hand-picked candidates in key Senate and gubernatorial races lost their elections last month. The latest controversies threaten to accelerate the call for the party to look further.
“If you’re one of those other interested parties [in] running this year is certainly an opportunity to create some contrast,” Sen. John Thune (SD), the second Senate Republican, said Monday, calling it “choir” for would-be challengers.
An Economist-YouGov poll released last week found Trump 36 percent and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) 30 percent in a potential GOP primary field, a pretty slim margin for a former president.
Trump is less than a month into his 2024 bid for the White House, a campaign launched with his grip on the GOP on the back burner due to disappointing interim results. His most notable moments since the campaign’s launch have underlined the risks many Republicans see in nominating him for a third time.
Last week, Trump ran into trouble after hosting rapper Ye, formerly Kanye West, who has espoused anti-Semitic views. During their dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, Ye and Trump were joined by Nick Fuentes, a well-known white nationalist and Holocaust denier.
This week, Trump is once again at the center of controversy over his response to internal Twitter communications that showed company officials discussing their decision in 2020 to limit the spread of a New York Post story accusing President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. to limit.
Trump has seized on internal communications shared with select individuals by Twitter owner Elon Musk to claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent and therefore should be redone or declared the winner.
“A massive fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations and articles, even those in the Constitution,” Trump posted on Truth Social, suggesting that either there should be a new election or he should be called out to the winner with retroactive effect.
On Monday, amid extensive coverage of Trump’s remarks over the weekend, the former president claimed he did not want to “end” the Constitution, but he maintained his belief that the 2020 election must be redone or that he should to do. be returned to the White House.
Many Republicans spoke out to condemn Trump’s meeting with Fuentes and Ye and their anti-Semitic views, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
But reaction to Trump’s comments on the Constitution over the weekend was relatively quiet among Republicans.
Former Vice President Mike Pence said on a South Carolina radio show Monday morning that “everyone who holds public office, anyone who aspires to serve or serve again, must make it clear that we will support and defend the Constitution of the United States “.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who defeated a Trump-backed challenger in November, said the proposal to end the constitution “is not just a betrayal of our oath of office, it’s an insult to our republic.”
However, McCarthy, McConnell and other top Republicans have yet to factor in.
Representative David Joyce (R-Ohio) largely dodged the question of whether he would still support Trump as a 2024 candidate after his suggestion on the Constitution.
“He says a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to happen,” Joyce said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
A former Trump White House official argued that the sort of media outcry over Trump’s rhetoric will likely only harden the former president’s grassroots supporters, who already believe the media will twist his words.
The official suggested that Trump’s campaign ambitions may not suffer significantly given the GOP’s fairly subdued response, and because it is so early in the race and no other challengers have yet officially declared. Trump will remain the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination until someone can impeach him, the official argued.
The White House, meanwhile, has seized on Trump’s remarks. Administration officials have said they don’t plan to comment on all of Trump’s attacks or controversies, but his meeting with a white nationalist and his calls for the “termination” of the Constitution marked instances where they were happy to go on the offensive .
Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates over the weekend denounced Trump’s rhetoric as “an abomination to the soul of our nation” and said it should be “generally condemned.”
The White House tried to pressure Republicans in Congress on Monday, hoping to dodge the controversy.
“Every president and congressman swears to ‘defend’ the Constitution of the United States,” Bates said in a statement. “Asking members of Congress to reaffirm their oaths of office and uphold the Constitution should not be an arduous task. Congressional Republicans should do so immediately, rather than repeatedly refusing to answer the most fundamental question.”