Could Donald Trump be defeated by a member of his own party? - Macleans.ca
 

Could Donald Trump be defeated by a member of his own party?

Republicans and right-leaning independents have begun to contemplate the an organized bid to take down the sitting president in 2020


 
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures before delivering remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base on August 21, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures before delivering remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base on August 21, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — Mark Cuban isn’t ready to launch a formal campaign to challenge President Donald Trump.

Yet Cuban, an outspoken Texas billionaire who describes himself as “fiercely independent” politically, sees an opportunity for someone to take down the Republican president, who is increasingly viewed as divisive and incompetent even within his own party.

“His base won’t turn on him, but if there is someone they can connect to and feel confident in, they might turn away from him,” Cuban told The Associated Press. “The door is wide open. It’s just a question of who can pull it off.”

Indeed, just seven months into the Trump presidency, Republicans and right-leaning independents have begun to contemplate the possibility of an organized bid to take down the sitting president in 2020. It is a herculean task, some say a fantasy: No president in the modern era has been defeated by a member of his own party, and significant political and practical barriers stand in the way.

The Republican National Committee, now run by Trump loyalists, owns the rulebook for nominating the party’s standard-bearer and is working with the White House to ensure a process favourable to the president.

RELATED: What happens if Donald Trump quits?

Yet Trump’s muddled response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month has emboldened his critics to talk about the once unthinkable.

GOP officials from New Hampshire to Arizona have wondered aloud in recent days about the possibility of a 2020 primary challenge from a fellow Republican or right-leaning independent. No one has stepped forward yet, however, and the list of potential prospects remains small.

Ohio’s GOP Gov. John Kasich has not ruled out a second run in 2020. Another Republican and frequent Trump critic, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse, last month visited Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucuses. And a handful of wealthy outsiders including Cuban and wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, are being encouraged to join the fray.

Trump’s comments about Charlottesville “frightened” many Republicans in New Hampshire, said Tom Rath, a veteran Republican strategist in the state that traditionally hosts the nation’s first presidential primary election.

“While he has support from his people, the party itself is not married to him,” Rath said of his party’s president.

Trump denounced bigotry after the Virginia protests, but he also said “very fine people” were on “both sides” of the demonstrations, which drew neo-Nazis, white nationalists and members of the Ku Klux Klan. One woman was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Even before the divisive remarks, Trump’s public approval ratings were bad. Gallup found in mid-August that the president earned the approval of just 34 per cent of all adults and 79 per cent of Republicans. Both numbers marked personal lows. And as he lashes out at members of his own party with increasing frequency, frustrated Republican officials have raised questions about the first-term president’s political future.

On Monday, Maine Sen. Susan Collins said it’s “too early to tell” whether Trump would be the GOP presidential nominee in 2020. On Wednesday, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said Trump’s divisive governing style was “inviting” a primary challenge. And on Thursday night, former Sen. John Danforth, of Missouri, called Trump “the most divisive president in our history” in a Washington Post op-ed.

“There hasn’t been a more divisive person in national politics since George Wallace,” Danforth wrote.

Trump has also disappointed “The Rock,” a former Republican-turned-independent, who told Vanity Fair in May that he’d “like to see a better leadership” from the Republican president.

Trump’s response to Charlottesville “felt like a turning point” among those thinking about 2020, said Kenton Tilford, a West Virginia political consultant who founded “Run The Rock 2020.” He said the group has already organized volunteers in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“He’s vulnerable,” Tilford said of the president.

Yet there is good reason why no sitting president since Franklin Pierce in 1852 has been defeated by a member of his own party. As is almost always the case, the most passionate voters in the president’s party remain loyal. And in Trump’s case, activists across the country are starting to come around.

The president has personally installed his own leadership team at the Republican National Committee and in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, where new GOP chairmen are more devout Trump supporters than their predecessors.

MORE: Trump signs order to ban trans individuals from U.S. military

As RNC members from across the country gathered in Tennessee this week, leaders had already begun focusing on protecting Trump in 2020.

RNC co-chairman Bob Paduchik, who ran Trump’s winning campaign for Ohio last year, was named to lead an RNC effort to review the presidential nominating process in conjunction with White House political advisers.

One possibility, last invoked during President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election, would allow party officials in some states to decide primary contests in closed caucuses without voter input. Such a change could make it all but impossible for another Republican to run a successful nationwide primary challenge.

Two members of the RNC rules committee, Bill Palatucci of New Jersey and Henry Barbour of Mississippi, said they’ve heard nothing of such an effort.

RNC chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel suggested that the blowback for Trump’s Charlottesville comments only reminded his hardcore supporters what they like most about him.

“He’s not filtered. He’s not poll-testing everything. That’s part of the appeal he has,” McDaniel said. “He has a great understanding of the pulse of the grassroots Republicans right now.”

MORE: The loneliness of Donald Trump

Other RNC members seemed more concerned about the president’s statement there were “very fine people” on both sides of the white supremacist rally.

Palatucci said Trump “got it wrong” in his initial comments, but he stands by the president’s agenda, especially business deregulation and his recent decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Barbour said the confusion following Trump’s response to Charlottesville was “a huge distraction.” The president’s future will brighten, he said, if the GOP-controlled Congress overhauls the tax code and approves sweeping public building projects.

“If he doesn’t get those done, we’re going to have trouble,” Barbour said.

Yet few predicted a significant primary challenge in the most important early voting states.

New Hampshire RNC member Steve Duprey said he’s heard no serious talk of one. Said Iowa RNC committeewoman Tamara Scott, “I firmly stand behind my president.”


 

Could Donald Trump be defeated by a member of his own party?

  1. They probably could, but it would not be wise. But then no one has ever accused RINOs of being wise. Trump was legitimately elected as POTUS and any attempt to take him down will turn out poorly for those attempting to do so. The 2018 elections are around the corner and some of the preliminary run offs are not looking good for the RINOs.

  2. 45’s not a Republican. He’s an Independent who was wooed/lured by the GOP in order to win the WH. And it worked. So now they own all three levels of government and they’re still stuck without anything to pass.

    When one thinks of GOP, their platform immediately comes to mind – tax cuts for the rich, less government regulation. When thinking of the Democrats, none of that appears because the nominee/ president had the platform, not the party. First, the Demos have to create a platform and policy that spans the party, and they can’t do it.

    And until they can, dotty old racists like 45 will continue to get the nomination. Everyone who voted for this Archie Bunker wanna-be are his generation or a ‘white nationalist’ (ie: racist/Nazi/bigot) who wants their own agenda put forth by this moron.

    Guess you got what you wanted, GOP. Welcome to the nightmare of your own making. Maybe you should read Harry Potter again to realize what kind of Dark Lord you elected.

    • Mary, the ONLY thing that you demonstrated through your little rant was that you clearly have some issues when you don’t get what you think you deserve. Cowboy up and get a clue.

      The Democrats what gone all in on identity politics and it is not working out well for them – in fact it is quickly spinning out of control. They have no deep bench to draw upon and they have no platform other than to blame, invoke the politics of envy (except when it applies their their multi-millionaire politicians – how exactly does a Dem senator amass a many, many millions of dollars?). RINOS have been very comfortable pretending to support the little guy, but once anywhere near power they revert to their comfort zone and pretend that the little guy doesn’t exist – since 2010, they have had clout in both the house and senate to hold Obama’s feet to the fire and make him work with congress – instead they fudged on anything important.,

      The work of both the Dems and RINOs lead directly to the election of Trump because the people who voted for Trump are just plain fed up with how politics was being played and they were fed up with both parties. It was a shot across the bow and Trump is willing to cross swords with anyone who doesn’t keep the working class in mind.

      • Maureen, you obviously didn’t read what I wrote, only what you thought I wrote.

        First of all, you haven’t a clue about what I think I deserve or not, so you can take your preconceived notions and get your own clue.

        A Dem senator amasses millions of dollars the same way a Rep does (there’s no ‘RINO’ party in the USA, so I have no idea where you’re getting that from). The Democratic Party needs to find their own footing and that’s why they have a hard row to hoe in the next 3 1/2 years. They can’t seem to agree on much and until that infighting stops, they’re going to get nowhere.

        Reps didn’t allow Obama an inch, every victory he got, he won by tooth and nail. And now if the Dems do the same, they’re called every name in the book. The hypocrisy coming out of D.C. is astounding.

        If the American populous were fed up with both parties, then an independent would have been voted in, right? Instead, they got a dime-store Rep who has distain for politicians and puts illiterates in charge of education, climate change deniers in charge of the EPA, and a failed surgeon in charge of housing.

        Finally, 45 wouldn’t know a ‘working class’ person unless they served him taco bowls. He comes from money, used his father’s money to bail himself out, and loses millions of dollars on his ‘can’t fail’ opportunities. The people he wants to impress can’t stand him and are finally getting tired of his idiocy.

        Governments can’t run business and businessmen (and I use that term loosely for 45) can’t run government.