Several Republicans in the upper chamber including at least one up for reelection next year unloaded on the idea in statements to The Hill on promise of anonymity.
“He’s a clinical narcissist. He threw away the election in the debate with Biden and he threw away the Senate out of spite,” one senator told the news outlet, adding: “I think we’re better off when he’s not part of any story.”
One senator, Ron Johnson, even went on the record saying that anything that would distract from the performance of President Joe Biden, including a bid by Mr Trump for the White House, would be “ill-advised”.
“The 2022 election ought to be about the Biden administration and its rolling disasters so anything that would detract from the public being focused on what Democratic governance is doing to this country would be ill-advised,” he told The Hill.
Their statements clash very strongly with the views of their colleagues in the House, who have publicly boasted of the former president’s supposed intent to run and vowed that he will defeat the 2024 Democratic Party nominee.
“[A]s of January 20, 2021, Joe Biden was the inaugurated president," said Rep Clay Higgins, a Trump ally and one of the Republicans who has spread false claims about the 2020 election, during a recent congressional hearing. He added: “Listen good: On January 20, 2025, we're gonna fix that.”
Mr Higgins and many other Republicans in the House come from comfortably-red districts that have little to no chance of falling into Democratic hands, thanks to factors at the state level ranging from local politics to gerrymandering. Many senators do not have that same luxury, and come from “purple” states where Democrats made statewide gains in the 2020 elections.
Many in both chambers are still unwilling to break with the former president publicly due to his ongoing hold over the Republican Party, though Mr Trump maintains a public feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his decision to whip votes against objections to the certification of the Electoral College results in January.
Fifteen GOP senators are running for reelection in 2022, and five are retiring. The wave of retirements creates a hurdle for the party as its members hope to retake the Senate; by comparison, just over a dozen seats held by Democrats are up for grabs next year, and no Democrats have yet announced their retirements.
“The way my colleagues [up for reelection] see it, he’s an asset in the primaries if he’s with you and then it creates challenges in the general election,” one GOP senator facing reelection next year told The Hill, adding: “He’s different than any political person that I’ve ever known."
Mr Trump has taken a jarringly different course than other former presidents since leaving office in January and continued hosting campaign-style rallies across the country; most recently he rallied in Iowa on Saturday where he attacked his successor and made his usual false claims about his 2020 defeat.
The rallies have raised speculation that Mr Trump will run again in 2024, with the former president hinting as such onstage, and thereby created a massive cloud over the potential 2024 GOP primary field.
Recent polls have shown that more than half of likely GOP primary voters would support Mr Trump as the party’s nominee if the primaries were held this year.
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