The Trump administration’s most stringent allies have railed for months about the “deep state;” a shadow government, more or less, that is intentionally operating at cross-purposes to Trump for the sole purpose of undermining him and forcing him to fail. Well, there may not be a true “deep state,” but there are budding offensives out there, and they’re not from Democrats, at least, not solely. Many of them are being put together by Republicans.
Besides Mike Pence’s new PAC, and his incessant traveling to swing states as though he’s trying to get an edge on clearing the candidate field early, there are several other Republicans who look to be feeling out their chances for a presidential run in 2020. Usually, the incumbent doesn’t face much competition for their party’s nomination for a second term, but, as John McCain put it, “They see weakness in this president.”
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who has been a vocal critic of Trump despite voting for just about everything Trump wants, has already visited Iowa, as has Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Ohio Governor John Kasich, who mounted a 2016 campaign, is looking at a new visit to New Hampshire and will not rule out a 2020 run. And these aren’t just random or coincidental visits. They’re specifically working on gaining support from some of the GOP’s biggest donors.
This is a massive break from tradition, which dictates they stay away from things like party dinners in the states that start off the presidential campaign season (like Iowa and New Hampshire).
Then you have conservative media personalities like Bill Kristol. Kristol is another outspoken opponent of Trump and he actually said:
We need to take one shot at liberating the Republican Party from Trump, and conservatism from Trumpism.”
Kristol’s vision is to create a committee aimed squarely at Trump, called the “Committee Not To Renominate The President.” He’s compared Trump’s rise to the collapse of the Roman Empire, and is a fierce and vocal critic despite being very conservative. He seems to see Trump’s brand of conservatism to be a perversion of conservative principles. He very likely welcomes all these shadow candidates a mere six months into Trump’s first term.
75 Republicans at all levels of the GOP feel there’s too much uncertainty surrounding Trump and 2020. That group includes elected officials, strategists, and donors, and they all have their doubts about whether Trump will even be on the ballot in 2020. These particular candidates are supposedly doing this as a “just-in-case” measure, meaning, just in case Trump doesn’t make the 2020 ballot, they’re ensuring the GOP does have someone to put forward. But the message they’re sending is clear: Someone, and possibly many someones, will challenge Trump in 2020.
Trump’s administration and the White House are in chaos, despite his claims to the contrary. So far, his term has been marred by the Russia scandal and by his own hand on Twitter, but he’s always got someone else to blame for not being able to get any of his agenda through. Things do not look good for him. America is not winning right now. And the GOP knows it.
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