New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman has a new report about the awkward position that the Republican Party is in yet again, and that it's one of their own making.
Writing Wednesday, Haberman compared former President Donald Trump in 2016 to who he is now and noted that the GOP is acting in exactly the same way. They just want him to go away. Sec. Mike Pompeo is already visiting Iowa and New Hampshire and former Sec. Nikki Haley, who first trashed Trump after the Jan. 6 attack, has announced that she might run if Trump doesn't.
"Just like when Donald J. Trump was a candidate in 2016, rival Republicans are trying to avoid becoming the target of his attacks or directly confronting him, while hoping someone else will," wrote Haberman, noting the odd paralysis.
Despite being removed from Twitter and Facebook, Trump is still causing trouble for the GOP. He's attacking Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and he pledged to take down Republicans who supported impeachment. Trump frequently breaks the unspoken rule of the GOP that one didn't speak ill of their own party members.
Now, as was typical in 2016, Republicans are scrambling to figure out how to oppose what Trump says without offending him.
"I think a lot of that rhetoric is — you know, it's part of the style and tone that comes with the former president," said Sen. John Thune (R-SD) about the attacks on McConnell.
Tim Miller, former Jeb Bush adviser explained that during the 2016 campaign, Republicans assumed he would self-implode. He never did.
"It is Groundhog Day," said Miller. "I always thought that was like a rational choice in 2015. But after we all saw how the strategy fails of just hoping and wishing for him to go away, nobody learned from it."
Mike DuHaime, who advised Gov. Chris Christie during the 2016 primary, explained that somehow members of the GOP still beg to be on Trump's good side.
"He intimidates people because he will attack viciously and relentlessly, much more than any other politician, yet somehow people crave his approval," said DuHaime. Some of that is also about a political fear that they'll draw the angry eye of Trump, who will turn the GOP base against them.
"Trump did self-destruct eventually, after four years in office," Mr. DuHaime said. "But he can still make or break others, and that makes him powerful and relevant."
Republican strategist David Kochel summed it up: "We've seen this movie before — a bunch of G.O.P. leaders all looking at each other, waiting to see who's going to try and down Trump.