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Republicans reflect on Trump’s continued grip on their party 

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Republicans reflect on Trump’s continued grip on their party

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Former US President Donald Trump recently addressed 15,000 ardent supporters in Arizona, making his first major public appearance since the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol that sought to keep him in office despite his defeat. in the 2020 presidential election.

In 93 minutes of remarks on Saturday night, Trump repeated the false claim that the election was stolen from him and predicted a Republican presidential victory in 2024, hinting at what political watchers are already assuming: that he plans an attempt to return to the White House.

Trump is expected to hold more rallies in the months leading up to the midterm elections in November that will determine control of Congress for the final two years of President Joe Biden’s term. State after state, Trump aims to increase the fortunes of Republicans seeking office who are loyal to him and reiterate his demands.

A supporter dressed as Uncle Sam listens to speakers before an appearance by former President Donald Trump at a rally on January 15, 2022 in Florence, Arizona.

Voters realize this.

“He’s going to remain a factor in American politics for the next few presidential terms,” ​​Robert Ellis, a New Orleans-based lawyer who voted for Trump in the 2016 and 2020 elections, told VOA. postman. He got results while he was president, and the more we see of Biden’s failures, the more we see that Donald Trump was right.

By contrast, many moderate Republicans and independent voters — who often play a pivotal role in close elections — aren’t sure the former president’s continued politics are good for the country or the Republican Party.

Chelsea Jaramillo, an entrepreneur from Denver, is one such independent voter.

“Honestly, I think his presence hurts the Republican Party,” she said. “Even many Republicans seem tired of his bull—-all the hate and blame that benefits no one but him.”

Trump supporters

In his remarks on Saturday, the former president attacked his Democratic successor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the US economy and international affairs. He also happily took aim at the handful of Republican lawmakers who voted with Democrats to impeach him after the Capitol riot and either announced they would not seek re-election or face a bumpy road. to stay in power.

“They fall fast and furiously. Those who voted for impeachment, we’re getting rid of them quickly,” Trump said.

Robert Collins, a professor of urban studies and public policy at Dillard University in New Orleans, said there wasn’t much in the speech that he found surprising.

“It was pretty much the same from him,” he said. “But where it interested me was you could hear the crowd getting excited when they perceived Trump was talking about running for president again in 2024.”

A recent Marquette Law School poll found that 60% of Republican voters think he should run for president again in 2024.

“That’s more than enough voters to win the Republican nomination,” Collins said, “so it’s a real possibility if he decides to run.”

Brandon Legnion, a New Orleans-based nurse, is open to the idea. His priorities, he said, include the issue of abortion and how America is handling the pandemic.

“I don’t believe vaccines and masking are ‘anti-freedom’ like a lot of other conservatives seem to believe,” he told VOA, “but I do think Republican voters are more likely to listen to Trump than Biden when it comes to uniting around the fight against COVID-19. I would probably vote for him if he ran in 2024.”

Turn the page

While the vast majority of Republican voters say they would vote for Donald Trump if he wins the party’s presidential nomination, some say they hope a different candidate emerges to lead the party.

“Trump’s independent and patriotic attitude, as well as his work on border control, jobs and our economy, have all earned him a prominent voice in our party,” said Republican voter Jerry Bell of Indiana, “but I think there should be a new torchbearer president in 2024. New blood to repatriate our conservative view of governance so we can ‘Make America Great!'”

A University of Massachusetts Amherst poll conducted Dec. 14-20 showed 71% of Republicans mistakenly believe Joe Biden’s election was illegitimate — a claim Trump critics often call “the big lie.” .

Trump addressed the label head-on in Arizona on Saturday, opening the rally by declaring, “The big lie is a lot of bull —-,” to wild applause from the raucous crowd.

Legnion considers the focus on the past to be counterproductive.

“It’s time to move on,” he said. “Continuing to beat past elections to death is not at all unifying for America.”

Help or hurt?

Whether the former president and his obsession with the 2020 election helps the Republican Party midterm and in the upcoming presidential election is the subject of ongoing debate among pundits, politicians and voters. .

“The incumbent president’s political party almost always loses the House of Representatives in midterm elections during his first term,” explained Robert Collins of Dillard University. “So whatever Trump’s involvement is, you can pretty much bet everything you have that it will happen this year.”

The Senate is less secure, he said.

“While every seat in the House is up for election every two years, only one-third of the Senate is,” Collins said. “And of those, probably only five to eight of those seats will be competitive elections. Trump’s impact is more likely to be felt there.

The prevailing view among pundits such as Collins is that while Trump can generate enthusiasm and voter turnout for Republican candidates loyal to him, some of those candidates — including several he praised at the rally in Arizona — could struggle to win in swing states and constituencies with more moderate voters.

“I’m not opposed to Donald Trump endorsing midterm candidates,” said Ronald Robichaux of Tampa, Florida, who said he voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, “but I’m afraid he won’t. talks about voting irregularities that have so far been baseless and that it might put some voters off. He can’t seem to bury the hatchet.

Collins suggested that less emphasis from Trump would help his political fortunes and that of Republicans more broadly.

“People seem to forget that when Trump is involved, elections tend to be a vote up or down on Trump,” he explained. “If I was working on his campaign, I would spend time trying to rehabilitate his image and reign him in. But based on Saturday’s speech, that doesn’t seem to be their strategy,” he said.

Collins added, “So if you’re running for a midterm job, all that can be done now is decide if you want to keep your distance from Trump or if you want to embrace him.”

Republicans reflect on Trump’s continued grip on their party

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