The question for the Republicans trying to take the Glenn Youngkin path to Trumpism without the Trump is how long they can avoid the "without the Trump" part.
Donald Trump is expected to maintain a prolific schedule of campaign rallies to boost Republicans in next year's midterms. But on the heels of Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin's victory in Virginia -- accomplished without a single Trump cameo -- some of the former President's aides and allies warn there could be parts of the country where he may now be encouraged to keep his distance.
The "stay away strategy," as one aide described it, would involve Trump steering clear of states or districts where a confluence of factors -- such as his popularity and the demographic makeup -- could mean his presence might sabotage Republican chances.
"There are absolutely places he shouldn't go. I wouldn't put him in Maryland, New Hampshire, or Arizona," said a person close to Trump. Despite the former President previously campaigning in those states for his own campaigns or other candidates, this person suggested Trump harm GOP Senate or gubernatorial hopefuls if he were to make appearances next year.
The approach assumes an unusual level of deference from the prideful ex-President, who has long insisted his support is the most essential ingredient in any Republican candidate's quest for victory. Trump has relished his position atop the GOP since leaving office and has spent much of the past week huddling with aides and outside advisers at Mar-a-Lago to discuss his involvement in 2022 and where he should be most active on the ground. Trump has already endorsed Republican primary challengers and incumbents at national and statewide levels in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Wyoming, Ohio, Alaska, Texas and several other states.
It also poses a challenge to candidates who determine it would be best for them if Trump focused his attention elsewhere, but do not wish to run afoul of the former President by asking.
"They will have to make a strong case and it can't be, 'I just don't want him around,' because at the end of the day many of these guys are running on his policies," said the person close to Trump, adding that it's "a delicate balance that certain candidates are going to have to dance, but the whole point of elections is to be strategic and to win, not to appease a former President."
Hard truth time again, folks.
They're not going to be able to do both.
Trump is cunning, but he cannot keep his raging malignant narcissism in check. The more stories like this that the press runs, that Trump is a liability to 2022 Republicans in general elections, the more rage Trump will burn with. You won't be able to keep him out of Arizona, for example, or Wisconsin, or Georgia. He's gonna show up, he's gonna do rallies, and he's going to remind everyone why he's a loser.
He'll burn down the party rather than stay home, and we all know it. It's the one thing Dems truly have going for them in the elections ahead.