He’s long believed that the true measure of a man is his TV ratings. So maybe it wasn’t a surprise when donald trump endorsed a famous doctor for a US Senate seat in Pennsylvania.
“They liked him for a long time,” Trump said of Mehmet Oz at a rally in Pennsylvania last week. “It’s like a poll. You know, when you’re 18 on TV, it’s like a poll. That means people like you.”
Trump card stunned his own party by his decision to support Oz, who is struggling in the real polls and is far from certain of winning the Republican primary.
It was one of dozens of risky bets Trump has made on extreme candidates. The upcoming primary — state and district polls to decide which Republicans will take on the Democrats in November’s midterm elections — is fast approaching a referendum on his dominance the party.
The next month could be crucial. Defeat for Oz by David McCormick in Pennsylvania on May 17, followed by a defeat of Trump-backed David Perdue to incumbent Governor Brian Kemp in Georgia a week later, could deal a major blow to Trump’s status as the party’s kingmaker.
Larry Jacobs, Director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota said: “Donald Trump is like a reckless gambler who has walked into a casino and bet his stack of money on a number. The roulette wheel is spinning right now, and if he’s wrong on any of them, you’ll see growing defiance.
“It’s almost certain that the growing sense among Republican leaders that Trump’s day has come and gone will be amplified this year. He has risked his political capital in so many races. A more experienced politician would have been a bit more sensible and cautious in these close races.”
A series of major losses for Trump’s selection could also pierce the aura of inevitability around him as the party flag bearer in the 2024 White House race and embolden potential rivals like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.
Jacobs added, “There are definitely some republican looking at the presidential candidates who are willing to take on Trump, especially if they see him as weakened. That is the orientation of many Republican leaders. They would like to see Trump slip quietly into the past. Like so much about Trump, he refuses to play along and still wants to be a player.”
Never before has a US President left office just to continue storming the country with campaign events and thus aggressively interfere in the congressional elections. Why Trump is so willing to risk his brand — and how he would react if he got a bloody nose from Republican voters — remains a matter of conjecture.
One apparent motive is to install loyalists who pass the litmus test of supporting his false claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Joe Biden. Trump is laying the foundation for this Suppliers of the “Big Lie” to take control of the electoral machinery across the country.
Alan Lichtman, a distinguished history professor at American University in Washington, said: “He is interested in shaping the party, in supporting those who he believes will support him and his approach to politics, and he also tries to be in some key swing states like Michigan, people from Arizona and Georgia who he believes can help him steal the next election if he runs.”
There are also financial incentives. Trump’s Save America group, which is responsible for countless fundraisers and emails, raised a whopping $124 million between November 2020 and March 2022, while allocating only about $14 million, or about 11%, to support midterm candidates output, such a Analysis by the Reuters news agency.
Wendy Schiller, a political science professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said: “This has become a deal for Trump. While his other businesses are either sold or dried up or the subject of court cases or criminal investigations, he continues to raise a lot of money and through all these activities he is able to support his lifestyle.”
She added: “Second, he is trying to build local support bases in swing states. If he decides to run, these are all people who will be part of the county and state political organizations. It’s going to be people who are going to vote in the Republican Party in these primary elections. So the more contacts he makes locally, the better positioned he will be.”
A procession of Republican aspirants has made its way to Trump’s luxury Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, hoping to join the anointed. They range from shoo-ins to too-close-to-call to outright underdogs.
On Friday night, Trump announced his support of JD Vance, author of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy, in a hard-fought Ohio Senate primary.
“Like some others, JD Vance may have said some not-so-great things about me in the past, but now he gets it, and I saw that in spades.” explained the ex-president.
He’s also All in for Sarah Palin, the former Alaskan governor and vice presidential candidate who is far from guaranteed to win a vacant seat in the House of Representatives in her home state. “Sarah shocked many when she endorsed me very early in 2016 and we won big,” Trump said. “Now it’s my turn!”
but Perhaps the highlight of August’s primary in Wyoming will come when Congresswoman Liz Cheney comes to embody the party’s anti-Trump resistance, is being challenged for a seat in the House of Representatives by pro-Trump Harriet Hageman. Cheney is well known in the state and raises huge sums of money.
Some of Trump’s recommendations have already backfired. In the race for the Pennsylvania Senate — potentially crucial in determining which party controls the chamber — he initially endorsed Sean Parnell, just for the candidate drop out amid spousal abuse allegations.
Trump’s successor decision to support Oz, Reportedly encouraged by Trump’s wife Melania and Fox News host Sean Hannity, he is bearing his own liabilities. The host of the syndicated The Dr Oz Show has been described by critics as a snake oil salesman. In 2014, he admitted before Congress that some of the products advertised on his show lacked “scientific patterning.”
Another setback occurred in Alabama, where Trump withdrew his consent of Congressman Mo Brooks in a Senate race, claiming Brooks “made a terrible mistake” in telling supporters to get behind the 2020 election. Most observers suspect the real reason was that Brooks was headed for defeat, according to polls.
Trump’s win-loss record is sure to be closely scrutinized by pundits. But if past is prologue, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine him dismissing defeats in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wyoming and elsewhere as the fault of weak candidates or rigged elections, while claiming primary victories as his own.
Frank Luntz, a pollster and political adviser, said: “I don’t think it’s risky for him because he doesn’t appreciate losing: if they win, they win because of him; if they lose, they have lost because of their own failure.”
He added: “He’s not as popular today as he was a year ago. The shine isn’t as bright, but he’s still the most influential Republican by far, and his support means something. I understand why candidates really want it, but you have to think about it: what getting you nominated in Pennsylvania will cost you the election.”
Trump has been written off countless times. But he got more votes at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February in a straw poll for the 2024 nomination than all other Republicans combined.
So, would a pinch of primary losses really break the fever?
reed galen, Co-founder of the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, said: “Some people will say that; more people might even want to believe it. Bipartisan bullshit class in Washington DC starts with [Senator Mitch] McConnell on the Republican side will read these tea leaves that way.
“But it doesn’t make it true, because ultimately Trump is speaking out for someone being on the ballot against Trump — the majority of those primary voters will come back to him if he decides to run again.”
DeSantis and other potential competitors should therefore not jump to conclusions, Galen added.
“I would tend to agree with the idea that potential challengers would see weakness in 2024,” Galen said. “It can encourage them. I don’t think that equation will result in them beating him in a primary.”
Will Trump’s ‘reckless’ endorsements be a referendum on his political power? | donald trump
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