Former "reality" TV game show host Donald Trump reportedly has devised a multi-part selection process for Republicans to complete in order to secure his "total and complete endorsement." Business Insider reports that Trump, from his gilded Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, is trying to establish himself as the King Midas anointer of candidates as a way of advancing a possible 2024 bid to reclaim the presidency.
Several GOP sources told Business Insider how candidates must navigate the endorsement process, which is mostly shrouded in secrecy. One of them is the former president's first press secretary - and one-time "Dancing With the Stars" game show contestant - Sean Spicer.
"If you're a Republican running in a primary right now, the single greatest endorsement that you can get is President Trump," Spicer said in an interview. "Whether you're running for president to dog catcher. The base of the party is going to be influenced by his endorsement."
"There's several parts of the process. Some of it is is governed by aides. Some of it is personal relationships, and some of it is gut alone," said Spicer. They described hopefuls being grilled by Trump's aides and family members, making public shows of loyalty, being granted a scorecard and finally impressing Trump one on one.
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As with many things in Trumpworld, the sources said, the former president's whims are paramount. Advice or careful planning easily can be dismissed in favor of his gut feelings.
If you don't already have a connection to Trump or aren't a big GOP donor, there are a series of "challenges" prospective endorsees must survive. First, they have to get past a panel of close aides to the former president. A GOP source told Business Insider that group includes Trump's eldest son Don Jr., his former deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino, and Susan Wiles, a longtime Republican operative in Florida.
The group interviews candidates and rates them based on their broad loyalty to Trump's Make America Great Again (MAGA) agenda. One source said that two issues rank above all others: hardline opposition to immigration, and support for "election integrity," a euphemism for Trump's so-called "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was stolen from him by mass fraud.
Sources said that some candidates wind up with an actual physical score card, which is passed on to Trump for him to gauge their suitability. The key hurdle is impressing Trump himself, who likes to interview candidates personally, usually at Mar-a-Lago. Another route to securing the golden endorsement, sources say, is to publicly support Trump's election-fraud conspiracy theories.
One source nicknamed this a "bat signal" for the former president and his advisors.
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