Republicans fear Trump will 'drive the car off the cliff' as they look at midterms: report
As Republicans begin to ramp up their efforts to reclaim the House and the Senate in the 2022 midterm election that is just over a year away, there is increasing concern among party leaders and campaign consultants that former president Donald Trump will derail all of their hard work.
According to a report from the New York Times' Jeremy Peters, fears are growing that the former president will intercede in elections where he could have a negative impact -- which could be devastating to voter turnout for GOP candidates in tight races.
As Peters notes, Trump's demand that candidates support his claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him threatens to make the midterms all about the former president which was a contributing factor when the GOP lost the House in 2018 and the Senate in 2020.
"The G.O.P.'s ambitions of ending unified Democratic control in Washington in 2022 are colliding with a considerable force that has the ability to sway tens of millions of votes: former President Donald J. Trump's increasingly vocal demands that members of his party remain in a permanent state of obedience, endorsing his false claims of a stolen election or risking his wrath," Peters wrote before adding, "The former president's fixation on disproved conspiracy theories is frustrating to many in his party who see it as needlessly divisive at a time when Republicans feel they are poised to take back the House of Representatives and perhaps the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. They worry he could cost Republicans otherwise winnable seats in Congress and complicate the party's more immediate goal of winning the governor's race in Virginia next month."
Explaining that Trump is able to motivate his base to turn out, the report also makes note that he hurts the party with swing voters and also turns out Democrats.
One concern is that Trump's attacks on election security will depress GOP turnout -- as evidenced by what happened in the Georgia run-off that led to Democrats claiming two seats in the U.S. Senate which turned Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) into the minority leader.
As Peters writes, "One of the most concerned is Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader. Mr. McConnell has told colleagues that he is concerned Mr. Trump's campaign to relitigate the 2020 election could depress confidence among Republican voters and hurt the party's chances at winning back the majority it lost this year after Democrats captured Georgia's two Senate seats," adding, "Republican critics of Mr. Trump said that history was repeating itself. 'Republicans should have learned this lesson after the Georgia debacle,' said Scott Reed, a veteran party strategist who has worked to elect Republicans to the Senate for three decades."
Former GOP lawmaker Barbara Comstock was more direct in her criticism of the former president.
"Here is where Trump is so destructive," Comstock, who lost her House seat in the so-called 2018 "Blue Wave" election.
"He doesn't want other people to win without groveling to him. That's the threat," she added. "It's not about winning. It's all about him. And that's what's so stupid about Republicans even trying to deal with him, because you never know when he'll drive the car off the cliff."
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