But, though being in the Trump camp is seen as essential to get through the primaries, the tactic of ingratiating themselves with him could hurt the party’s chances in the general election.
“He puts a ceiling on potential gains,” said Spain. “He’s a net negative for Republican prospects in 2024. But you can’t get to the general election unless you survive the primary, and he holds the keys to the primary electorate.”
The article listed many Republicans who’d been vocal opponents of Trump pre-2020 – and some who’d spoken out against him after Jan. 6.
They have changed their tune now, aiming to get the blessing of the man they think they can’t win without.
Ohio Republican Bernie Moreno, for example, compared Trump to Hitler because of his immigration policies in 2016.
Now, as he runs to unseat Democrat Sherrod Brown, he’s pivoted into being a MAGA cheerleader, the Daily Beast reported.
“Close the border. Stop the invasion,” he tweeted last month in a complete U-turn on his former position. He’s also compared immigrants crossing the southern border to 9/11 terrorists.
The same tactic was used by Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV), who is running to unseat Sen. Joe Manchin. Justice was vocally opposed to Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, has mocked the former president’s debating talents and saying “anybody with the brain would say, he’s gotten way, way, way past out over his skis.”
Now he calls Trump’s criminal indictment in the hush money case a “travesty,” talks about “the commitment and accomplishments that President Trump has given us,” and calls Trump’s sons his “huntin’ buddies.”
The Daily Beast’s list of similar examples is long.
“That leading Republican candidates are actively moving toward him as they seek to win over primary voters is as good an indication as any that Trump is still dominant,” the report states.
“For many Republicans, this is unwelcome news. In 2020 and 2022, GOP failures to win Senate majorities were largely chalked up to Trump’s involvement.”