Donald Trump continued his complete takeover of the GOP as his own personal party, again saying Thursday that if Republicans don't find a way to "fix" the election that was "stolen" from him, that it would be a shame if Trump voters didn't show up at the polls anymore.
Former president Donald Trump has in the past week threatened electoral defeat for Republicans who dismiss his election falsehoods, inserted himself into the Virginia governor’s race to the delight of Democrats, and promised to root out disloyal GOP officials in legislative primaries in Arizona and Michigan.
With more than a year to go before the midterm elections, the former president is leaving no corner of the party untouched as he moves to assert his dominance, both in public and behind the scenes. His stepped-up efforts create a conundrum for many of the party’s strategists and lawmakers, who believe they could have a banner election year in 2022 if they keep the focus on President Biden and his agenda.
But Trump has repeatedly turned the focus back onto the 2020 election. He moved into new territory Wednesday when he released a statement threatening the GOP with ballot-box repercussions if candidates do not embrace his false claims that the White House race was rigged.
“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” Trump said, part of a barrage of statements on the election and the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that he sent out this week. “It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”
The former president’s threat drew winces among GOP operatives and U.S. senators gathered for a donor retreat for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in Palm Beach, Fla., this week. Many still blame Trump for the loss of two U.S. Senate seats in Georgia in runoff elections early this year, saying his false claims of fraudulent ballots kept people from coming to the polls.
“It gives everyone cold sweats over the Georgia situation and the prospect he could have some impact again,” said one top party strategist, who like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
Already, many GOP candidates are following Trump’s lead, echoing false allegations that the election results were manipulated and raising the prospect that fraud will taint other elections.
In a private speech at the retreat Thursday, Trump cast himself as the GOP’s savior, saying he had brought the party back from the brink of disaster and helped Republicans hold seats on Capitol Hill — failing to mention that the party lost the White House and control of both the House and Senate under his presidency.
“It was a dying party, I’ll be honest. Now we have a very lively party,” he said, to a room of senators, donors and lobbyists, according to a recording of the event obtained by The Washington Post, before boasting of all the endorsements and telephone town halls he had done in the 2020 cycle.
He then railed against Republicans who had spoken negatively about him — naming Sens. Mitt Romney (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) at an event paid for by the NRSC — and urged the party to “stick together,” with Trump as the de facto leader.
“They cheat like hell, and they stick together,” Trump said of Democrats. “The Republican Party has to stick together.”
And he reiterated his claims that the 2020 vote was tainted by fraud, praising GOP-controlled states that have passed new voting restrictions since then.
“It’s a terrible thing what they did in Georgia and other states,” he said.
“You look at Texas, you look at a lot of states — they are correcting all the ways we were all abused over the last election . . . last two elections if you think about it,” Trump added.
In a statement Thursday, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said, “There is no one in the country that does more to increase voter engagement and participation than President Trump. Through his endorsements and massive Save America rallies, President Trump is single-handedly rebuilding the Republican Party at the ballot box.”
Everyone left in the GOP works for Donald Trump now, or he'll pull the plug on the ones who don't play ball. He knows he can get away with it, too.
What are they going to do, tell him no?
As I said earlier this month, the one thing that needs to happen to allow Dems to keep Congress in the midterms is happening in a deluge right now, and that's Donald Trump unleashed on the GOP and purging anyone who might be able to win a competitive general election.
I'm glad he's back. Voting against him is the one thing that might unite everyone else.