PERRYSCOPE: Quo vadis, Donald Trump?

BEATEN AND DISGRACED in November 2016 by Democrat Joe Biden, former president Donald Trump wants a comeback in 2024.  He’s been holding rallies in various cities around the country, bringing together a cultic following among Republicans. 


Initially, he managed to demonstrate his hold on Republicans who see him as the leader that would lead them to victory in the forthcoming midterms in November.   But not all Republicans are beholden to him.  There is a growing number of Republicans who want to see another Republican lead the GOP to recover the White House in 2024.  And there are at least a dozen presidential wannabes who’ll be running in Republican primaries challenging Trump. 


While it is most likely at this time that Trump is still the man to beat in the primaries, there is likelihood that one of them would emerge the leader in the pack, which begs the question: Who would that be?




The answer depends on several factors, foremost of which is: Electability. 


There are a few at this time who would be considered “electable” someone who could face up to Trump in state primaries.   Two come to mind: Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.  Kinzinger mocked the celebrated MAGA firebrand Representative Madison Cawthorn’s defeat over his defeat by “RINOs”—Republicans In Name Only—in last Tuesday’s primary election in North Carolina.   Cawthorn, a first-time congressman, is a pro-Trump who vowed to defeat the “RINOs” who had set out to defeat him.  Humbled by his defeat, Cawthorn immediately conceded defeat a few hours after the polls closed. 


However, Kinzinger has been targeted by right-wing Republicans for his criticism of Trump.  He announced his retirement after voting to impeach Trump for inciting the attack on the Capitol.  But he made clear that he’s not running away from the political arena.  “This isn’t the end of my political future, but the beginning,” he said in his retirement announcement video.


Kinzinger launched a PAC earlier this year, dubbed “Country First,” to challenge the GOP’s embrace of Trump’s election lies and root out what Kinzinger has described as a “cancer” inside the party.


Kinzinger is reportedly “actively weighing whether to seek his political fortunes in the Senate, the Illinois governor’s mansion or even the White House, despite serious questions about whether there’s any future at all for a Donald Trump critic like him in today’s GOP.”  But Cawthorn’s defeat promises to elevate Kinzinger’s viable political future.


Declaration of war


Meanwhile, Liz Cheney raised eyebrows when she announced she’s going to New Hampshire in November.  There is only one reason why someone would go to New Hampshire – to test the political water for a possible run for the presidency.


As early as last April Cheney had left the door open to a presidential bid in 2024. “I’m not ruling anything in or out — ever is a long time,” she said.  Shortly after being removed from her third ranking post in House leadership for her criticism of Donald Trump, Cheney reportedly said she “would do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure that Trump was not the Republican standard-bearer in 2024.”  Does it seem like it’s a declaration of war?  You bet.


Trump was angry that Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him for his role in the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.  He has called Cheney a “warmonger” and a “disloyal Republican.”   He has endorsed a primary challenger to Cheney and is promising to defeat her.  


Cheney has not backed down in the face of Trump’s assault.  Instead, she has rallied the GOP establishment.   Reportedly, “former President George W. Bush is set to hold a fundraiser to benefit Cheney in October in Dallas and she has also received campaign contributions from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as former House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan. Cheney has already raised more than $3.4 million this year and had nearly $2.9 million left in the bank, according to her last campaign finance report.”  Not bad for a warmonger and disloyal Republican, which just shows the deep division among GOP stalwarts, particularly those who don’t want a Trump resurgence leading to 2024. 


If Cheney wins her primary next year, she would emerge in GOP circles as the one who slayed the Trump dragon.  She will prove that standing up to Trump doesn’t have to be a death sentence for a Republican elected official.


Trump’s Waterloo


As a matter of fact, Georgia might prove to be where Trump would meet his Waterloo on March 24.  Early on, Trump has endorsed former Senator David Purdue against incumbent Governor Brian Kemp, who is leading by 32-point margin against Purdue.  Incidentally, former Vice President Mike Pence has endorsed Kemp, a smart move to line himself up against Trump’s candidate.  Another prominent Republican who is supporting Kemp is former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will join Kemp in his campaign before the primary.


Purdue’s defeat would be the latest sign that a Trump endorsement would not guarantee a candidate’s victory.  A case in point was Representative Madison Cawthorn’s primary defeat. The young firebrand lost to state Senator Chuck Edwards after an aggressive attack campaign by Democrats and Republicans alike.  After his defeat, Cawthorn called for “Dark MAGA” forces to take revenge on establishment Republicans.


Cawthorn reportedly posted a list of people who supported him when the “establishment turned their guns on me.”  The list included Trump, who pleaded for voters to give Cawthorn a “second chance” despite “some foolish mistakes,” as well as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as well as others that Cawthorn said “came to my defense when it was not politically profitable.”


Cawthorn’s supporters should now be wary because the voters could deal them the same fate that he was dealt with.  And as Trump ponders what effect it would have on his own fate, the die would soon be cast against him in 2024.


While it is too early to predict Trump’s 2024 comeback, there seems to be a silent undercurrent going on in the Republican Party that could deal him a fatal blow in 2024.   The signs are growing.   After Georgia, what’s next?


But for sure, there will be serious challenges to a Trump presidential nomination.   Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger would be at the forefront and they would give Trump a run for his money.


At the end of the day, Trump’s endorsed candidates might win in the primaries, but how would they fare in the midterms and general elections?  Will the American people vote for them if they would think twice before electing Trump as president again?


Quo vadis, Donald Trump?