Former President Donald Trump appeared before his first rally crowd since losing the election and returning to his now-home, golf club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. While Republicans have traveled to kiss the ring of the party's standard-bearer, the reality, according to two Washington Post reporters, is that they're really hoping he'll just shut up.
Writing Sunday, Josh Dawsey and Julie Watson explained that Trump's old grievances, conspiracies and long rambling speeches aren't exactly what the post-Trump GOP is looking for as they mount a challenge to Democrats in the 2022 Midterm Elections.
"Trump's appearance Saturday illustrates a continued conundrum for the Republican Party: While he remains overwhelmingly popular among the party's faithful, he potentially poses a problem for the GOP as it looks to win over voters ahead of the 2022 midterms who are wary of his divisive style," Dawsey and Watson explained.
They noted that many Republicans are trying to shift the party past the 2020 election, the nonstop conspiracy talk, the violent, armed insurrection on Jan. 6, and years of empty promises and policy failures. Trump traveling to address his fans around the country endanger that effort.
"Some Republicans argue that the party needs to move past Trump to woo disaffected suburban voters and women with a return to a focus on policy," the report explained. "As evidence, they maintain that Trump contributed to Georgia Republicans losing both the state's Senate seats in a January runoff because he would not budge from his false claims that the election was rigged rather than push the Republican candidates as a needed counter to President Biden's agenda."
Sarah Longwell, who leads Republican Voters Against Trump, explained that the GOP seems caught between a rock and a hard place.
"There is no alternative to Trump right now because people are so afraid to challenge him in any way. There doesn't seem to be a tremendous appetite for what Trump is selling outside of the MAGA faithful," she told The Post. "A lot of Republicans want to move on from Trump, but they need all the voters who have engaged on Trump's behalf to stick with them."
This week already made it clear that people are no longer hanging on every word from Donald Trump, and without his bots and followers he can't even generate traffic to his own blog using his massive email list.
But no Republican is brave enough to stand up and show him the door back into golfing in irrelevance. So, they're stuck trying to please voters who want nothing to do with Trump and Trump, who wants everything to be about him.