Hot Posts


Trump folks just can't let 2020 go

Tuesday and Wednesday saw a flurry of reporting on how the Trump campaign and the GOP’s national political committees, which it now controls, will litigate the claim that the 2020 presidential election was marred by malfeasance.

Rehashing 2020 . . . Again

Washington Post reporter Josh Dawsey was first out of the gate with a late Tuesday dispatch revealing that the Republican National Committee, which is now co-chaired by both Trump “loyalist” Michael Whatley and Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, had transformed Trump’s belief that he was robbed of victory in 2020 into a litmus test for new hires.

“‘Was the 2020 election stolen?’ one prospective employee recalled being asked in a room with two top Trump advisers,” the report read. Others who experienced the RNC’s vetting process described the questions they were asked about the 2020 election as “open-ended.” Still, none denied the efforts to solicit prospective RNC employees’ personal views on the conduct of that election. And everyone knows how they’re supposed to answer those questions. After all, “if you say the election wasn’t stolen, do you really think you’re going to get hired?” one former RNC employee told Dawsey.

That report was confirmed by CNN journalists Alayna Treene and Daniel Strauss. “A key focus for the Trump campaign, and newly-elected leadership at the RNC, ahead of the 2024 election is election fraud,” their dispatch read. “Much of that focus stems from former President Donald Trump’s dissatisfaction with how the RNC handled claims of election fraud around the 2020 election, multiple sources familiar with the matter said.”

“Candidates who worked on the front line in battleground states or are currently in states where fraud allegations have been prevalent were asked about their work experience,” RNC spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez said in response to these allegations. “We want experienced staff with meaningful views on how elections are won and lost and real experience-based opinions about what happens in the trenches.”

That sounds benign enough. The attempt to reframe the RNC’s conspicuous interest in prospective staffers’ views on 2020 as little more than an effort to establish relevant work experience dovetails with comments Lara Trump provided NBC News in an interview published Wednesday morning.

“I think we’re past that,” the RNC co-chair told NBC reporter Garrett Haake when asked if the official position of the GOP’s central committee is that the 2020 election was rigged in Joe Biden’s favor. “I think that’s in the past.” Sounds definitive enough, but Lara Trump’s comments can be best interpreted as aspirational.

As Haake and his co-authors note, Donald Trump himself said as recently as last week that America would be in a better position “if the election weren’t rigged.” This sort of talk has Republican political professionals nervous. A willingness to promulgate Trump’s fraud narratives is the thread that ties together the GOP nominees who underperformed in competitive races in 2022. Barring exceptions that prove the rule, candidates who clung tightest to Trump’s fraud allegations lost. Although 2020 election-malfeasance narratives thrill “the Trump faithful,” the Wall Street Journal recently reported, those claims also have the effect of discouraging Republicans from participating in a “rigged” process while simultaneously activating the GOP’s opponents in the electorate.

If the Trump campaign has moved on from alleging that outcome-altering fraud tainted the 2020 election, you might not know it from Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita. “His plan? He will steal it,” LaCivita said of Joe Biden’s 2024 election strategy this week. “Won’t happen this time.”

Lara Trump’s comments to NBC News strain credulity further still. “I think if you talk to him right now,” she said of her father-in-law, “you will see that he is very much embracing early voting.” She must have meant right now — as in, this very second — because it was only weeks ago that Trump seemed as leery of vote-by-mail schemes as he has always been. “If you have mail-in voting, you automatically have fraud,” the former president told the hosts of a Fox News town hall in February.

For weeks, the president has been telling his rally attendees that the only way to thwart the plot against him is to swamp the polls with a huge Election Day turnout. “We want a landslide,” he told one North Carolina audience. “We have to win so that it’s too big to rig.” As the Journal observed, that slogan — “too big to rig” — was printed on campaign literature and handed out to supporters. Additionally, Trump has lobbied the GOP from the rally stage to “better secure their elections right away by insisting on single-day, in-person voting, with identification checks” — a position that is “at odds” with the RNC’s get-out-the-vote initiatives. If Trump has seen the light on early voting, he has been coy about it.

Trump himself is struggling publicly to subordinate his instincts to the political imperatives articulated by Lara Trump, among others. “You know, the polls are all rigged,” Trump said during a rally in Georgia earlier this month. “Of course, lately, they haven’t been rigged because I’m winning by so much.” He later thought better of the remark and withdrew it. “Disregard that statement,” the former president commanded. “I love the polls very much.”

But then, this is all just talk. None of it may matter if the polling landscape looks in November like it does today. But for Republicans to realize the promise of early head-to-head polling, they need to field a national campaign infrastructure capable of turning those potential GOP voters into actual GOP voters. So far, that project is off to a slow start.

“We’ve got the skeleton right now,” Michigan Republican Party chairman Pete Hoekstra told the Associated Press this week. “We’re going to have to put more meat on it.” The Republican Party’s modest footprint in Michigan is indicative of a broader trend. “Indeed,” the AP added, “just six months before the first early votes are cast in the general election between Trump and Biden, Trump’s Republican Party has little general election infrastructure to speak of.” The report contrasts the GOP’s gaunt campaign apparatus with Joe Biden’s increasingly robust ground game.

Biden also has the resources to keep growing. The president’s team “shattered fundraising records” yesterday with a single swing that produced $25 million in commitments. Biden’s campaign committees had $97.5 million on hand at the end of February compared with the $44.8 million that Trump and his committees could access. That fundraising disparity will only become a more acute problem for the GOP. “The Biden campaign,” Politico reported, “has begun to unload its war chest in TV and digital ads, with a $30 million effort this spring designed to boost Biden’s record and attack Trump.”

Of course, it’s very early. But it gets late early, as a venerable rhetorician once said. Back in 2012, the Obama campaign broke all the rules when it launched an unspeakably early ad blitz against Mitt Romney . . . in late May. It has long been anticipated that this year’s uneventful primary-election cycle would pave the way for an early start to the general election. The Biden campaign is already off and running. So far, Donald Trump’s GOP is just getting off the starting block.

Post a Comment