GOP faces 'potentially catastrophic problem' if Trump loses nomination: conservative
Donald Trump (AFP)

Conservative author Peter Wehner believes that the Republican Party will be better off in the long run with former President Donald Trump out of the picture -- but he thinks in the short term, Trump could decimate the GOP.

Writing in The Atlantic, Wehner outlines the "potentially catastrophic problem" the party could face if Trump is denied the nomination, as he could run a third-party candidacy that would doom Republicans' chances of reclaiming the White House.

Wehner notes that Trump recently refused to commit to supporting the party's 2024 nominee if it's not him, and he has in the past promoted articles that encouraged him to run a third-party bid should he be denied the Republican nomination.

What's more, Wehner argues, it wouldn't even take a third-party bid to destroy the GOP next year.

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"But even if Trump doesn’t run as a third-party candidate, he could ensure that Republican presidential and congressional candidates lose simply by criticizing them during the campaign, accusing the Republican Party of disloyalty, and signaling to his supporters that they should sit out the election," he writes. "That course of action is more straightforward, and perhaps even likelier, than a third-party bid, but it would be just as devastating to Republican prospects."

So far, Trump is the only Republican to announce a White House bid, although former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are both widely expected to launch their own campaigns in the coming months.