As his “brand” starts to diminish, there are three choices left for former President Donald J. Trump.
First published: Dec 2022.
A s his “brand” starts to diminish, there are three choices left for former President Donald J. Trump:
- Maintain his current posture that he is a candidate for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination and see if he can win (doubtful);
- Decide that the way to take over the country is to convince his followers that they and he have been wronged and that the Constitution must be done away with and then wage a full-blown insurrection in an effort to take the country by force (unlikely and will not succeed);
- Decide to withdraw from his decision to run for president (more to come).
Each option is fraught with huge downsides for Trump.
To take them one by one:
First, Trump’s path to the nomination is a possibility if enough candidates join the race to oppose him and he keeps a stranglehold on his base. With enough candidates in the race, his 20 to 30 percent of the party can win (as it did in 2016). If he wins, it seems nearly certain that he cannot beat President Joe Biden or any Democrat in November 2024. Last time he ran, he was defeated with authority.
Since then, his brand has been diminished and there are clear cracks in what some see as his Superman powers. He took a drubbing in the mid-term elections ending in dramatic fashion when his hand-chosen candidate to win in Georgia turned out to be a horrible candidate with big-time baggage, came close but didn’t make it and actually gave a somewhat classy concession speech.
Second, Trump certainly has the potential to lead an(other) attempted coups. Still, democracy won out, the mob was defeated, the electoral ballots were counted and Joe Biden was sworn into office. Still, that episode improved Trump’s image as a martyr.
Third, and the option I think he will take, is to withdraw from the race at some point before the first primary or caucus, claim his reason is that he is being attacked by everyone outside of his base for potential crimes including attempting to change the results of the 2020 election, to his company’s drama over illegal acts by two senior executives, to the January 6th committee’s likely referral of Trump to the Justice Department for indictment, to his taxes, which are in the hands of the Congress which apparently hasn’t decided what to do with them yet.
Certainly there is enough in that list, which could even be expanded, to give Trump a reason to pull out of the race yet keep his base with him for whatever nefarious reasons he may have. Playing the martyr has been a Trump trait. Trump cannot lose, as evidenced by his whining since the 2020’s election, that he was robbed and he is the president.
Donald Trump still doesn’t understand the Constitution nor the concept that “no one is above the law”. | CREDIT: FLICKR/GAGE SKIDMORE
But, his cover can be that the “establishment” needs to be taken on and he can best do that by fighting the various lawsuits and charges he may be facing. For some reason, he thought announcing his candidacy would make those issues go away, but he still doesn’t understand the Constitution nor the concept that “no one is above the law.”
His brand has taken hits and some senators coming out and criticizing (gently, but criticizing) his Truth Social post that the Constitution should be “suspended” and he should be inserted into the presidency¹, which ain’t gonna happen, plus once Trump saw the comments criticizing the statement, he saw the whole party may not always be afraid of him. And won’t be silent much longer. But his base is with him.
On top of that, Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who has been a loyal Trumpee throughout the last six years, said in Georgia that Republicans must get better at early voting if they want to succeed. She never mentioned Trump’s name but he was the leader of the effort to get Republicans to vote only on Election Day. A tactic that hurt Herschel Walker in the run-off yesterday, and that closed down some voting during his election. For McDaniel to even make that statement is a big deal.
His magic has been reduced and we are seeing some, but not a lot, of evidence the last week or so: his dinner with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, an anti-Semite, and Nick Fuentes, an anti-Semite and white supremacist, clearly was not supported by a lot of (unnamed) Republican leaders, some of whom did issue mild criticisms of him. As if it is even a decision whether to criticize breaking bread with white supremacists and anti-Semites.
Let’s just say Trump is no longer invincible and as his former supporters (Chris Christie) and Administration appointees (Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley) inch closer to announcing their own presidential candidacies, he likely will see former Trump insiders begin to admit their negative experiences with him during his time in the Oval Office.
The emperor may be on the verge of realizing he has no clothes.
— AUTHOR —
▫ B. Jay Cooper, Former deputy White House press secretary to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Also headed communications offices at the RNC, U.S. Department of Commerce, and Yale University.
- Text: This piece was originally published in The Screaming Moderate and re-published in PMP Magazine on 11 December 2022, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.
- Cover: Flickr/Gage Skidmore. (Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)