MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and John Heilemann on Tuesday discussed how Donald Trump's preferred candidates would put Republican chances in jeopardy for taking back the U.S. Senate majority.
The former president has endorsed loyalists -- including J.D. Vance in Ohio, Herschel Walker in Georgia and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania -- in races around the country, and the "Morning Joe" host said they're unlikely to win Democratic votes and might not excite enough Republican voters.
"In a year where the Democrats seem to be handing it to Republicans, going, 'Please take the majority in the House, we don't want it anymore -- take the majority,' this should be so easy for Republicans," Scarborough said. "Yet, you look in Georgia, he endorses Herschel Walker -- wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to begin. Georgia Republicans, again, quietly freaking out, going, 'My God, he did this to us in 2020, he is doing it to us again.' You look at Pennsylvania. Dr. Oz? I mean, it is going to be so easy to turn that guy around in circles. He's changed positions as quickly as J.D. Vance, maybe even more quickly than J.D. Vance -- total total hypocrites and total liars."
"The Republican Party in Arizona has never been crazier than it's been," Scarborough added. "You look at the people leading in the gubernatorial race. You look at the people that are leading in the Senate race, absolutely outrageous. Of course, you have Wisconsin and Ron Johnson, that speaks for itself. I mean, in all of these swing states that [President Joe] Biden won -- Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona, what am I missing? Georgia, yeah. Joe Biden has low approval ratings, but Republicans aren't taking advantage of it."
Heilemann agreed these Trump-backed candidates, if they advance past the Republican primaries like Vance already has, would face a steep challenge in a general election.
"You know, this is Mitch McConnell's worst nightmare," Heilemann said. "The Pennsylvania race, again, the litany you laid out, Joe, is potent and compelling. I think that Donald Trump -- I would go back to Kathy Barnette. Kathy Barnette is right in a lot of ways. Donald Trump is giving Democrats a gift in a lot of those places by getting involved in races where he is going to end up with people who are, by far, the weaker candidates to run in states where a strong mainstream, what used to be a mainstream Republican candidate ... the mainstream of the Republican Party is now the extreme, but what we used to think of as mainstream conservative candidates would have a strong shot at winning gubernatorial races and Senate races."
Trump remains the GOP's leader, but Heilemann said he's throwing away his political capital on losers.
"In some cases, his clout is going to stick the Republican Party with the wrong candidate, making it hard to win the general election, or the candidates he endorsed are going to lose, like the [Georgia Gov. Brian] Kemp race," Heilemann said. "That the base is now dragging Donald Trump as much as Donald Trump is leading the base. You can't overemphasize the notion of what has happened in the transformation of the party into a Trumpist party, is Trump's power is real with the Republican base, but the Republican base itself has a mind of its own."
"So in some of these states, like Arizona and other places, the genie is out of the bottle," Heilemann added. "In some ways, Trump is racing to keep up with the base rather than the other way around. I think that is the deeper problem that Republicans have in a lot of these states going forward. The party has gone bonkers."
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