According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Republicans and GOP consultants are surveying the reputational damage done to the party after Donald Trump encouraged followers to march in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that led to a riot and left five dead.
With finger-pointing in full bloom and the president retreating back to the White House and still fuming about his failed re-election bid, the party that allied itself so closely with Trump is finding itself suffering collateral damage.
According to the Journal, there is an internal fight going on between Trump's remaining supporters in Congress and those who want to put him in the past and repair the damage he wrought.
As Sen. John Thune (R-SD) put it, "We've got to chart a course. I think our identity for the past several years now has been built around an individual. And we've got to get back to where it is built on a set of ideas and principles and policies, and I'm sure those conversations will be held. But it needs to happen pretty soon."
Republican strategist Scott Reed bluntly explained the problem facing the party, "I think the Trump brand is close to destroyed."
The Journal reported, "This week's events exacerbated a crisis of identity for a party that already was seeking to figure out how it will sell itself in the post-Trump era," adding, "Across the country, the party is being torn by infighting between those who resisted Mr. Trump's efforts to overturn the presidential election results, and those who supported it, in some cases with an eye to run for higher office."
That doesn't mean that the president doesn't still have a loyal base with the report noting Trump still has "strong support among his base of largely rural, evangelical Christian and working-class voters." But those numbers came before Wednesday's assault on the Capitol.
According to Stan Barnes, a Republican consultant, the party leadership needs to decide how much longer it wants to be associated with the outgoing president.
"It's a serious threat to the party's ability to win elections in the near future, to recruit candidates and raise money,'' Barnes explained. "And if the party can't figure out if wants to be in the boat with Trump or in another boat, then the party is facing an existential threat."
Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist who advised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), agreed.
"Unless the party fully rejects Trump, it will quickly become irrelevant," he explained. "The type of candidates a Trump-centric Republican Party will nominate will be easily beaten in most general elections, relegating themselves to being a perpetual minority and regional party."
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