Trump's potential GOP challengers are 'scheming' and 'keeping one eye on his health': MSNBC analyst
Donald Trump at a campaign rally at the Giant Center in 2019. (Evan El-Amin /

Former president Donald Trump is the boss of the Republican Party "until he's not," according to Trump critic and former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, co-founder of the Lincoln Project.

Appearing on MSNBC on Wednesday night, Schmidt was asked about the significance of a recent poll showing a 10 percent decline in support among Republicans for Trump to run again in 2024.

"I think it shows fatigue, I think it's a wish, it's a hope," Schmidt said. "But I think if he runs that hope doesn't necessarily translate into a diminishment of support or chances of him winning the nomination."

Schmidt then questioned which potential GOP challenger will "stand up and confront" Trump in 2024.

"Who's it going to be?" he said. "Is it going to be Greg Abbott? Is it going to be Ron DeSantis, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz? Donald Trump is the boss until he's not."

"There is a competitive court below him that hates each other, that's constantly scheming, that has one eye on Trump's health, on his fitness, wondering what he's going to to do, so there will be a lot of people quickly out of the gates, but nothing will happen until Trump makes his decision," Schmidt said. "He's got the party as a hostage — they're willful in the sense that most of them aren't hostages anymore, they're accomplices — but in totality it's what holds the whole country hostage right now, as we wait to see what Donald Trump does heading into 2024."

"But as you look right now, Democrats have a lot of work to do, and have to change the terrain they're fighting on immediately to be in a position to prevail in these 2022 midterms, because the trajectory they're on, the lane that they're in, is headed toward defeat and to see a Republican speaker in the constitutional line of succession, which will set off two years of chaos, nihilism and sabotage of the public good, the public interest and the Biden presidency."

Watch the full interview below.

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