WASHINGTON — Most Republicans on Capitol Hill say they’ll support former President Donald Trump if he is the GOP’s 2024 nominee, but many are privately worried about the former president upending the November midterms with an early announcement of another White House bid.
Their concerns come amid reports that Trump’s allies are encouraging him to announce his re-election bid in September, ahead of the crucial election season. Such a move could redirect the midterm spotlight to the party’s most polarizing figure just as momentum is building for a red wave, they said.
“If Trump announces before the midterms that he’s running for president, quite frankly, I think it would be a gift to the Democrat Party,” said one GOP political aide. “It would allow them to shift the narrative from the issues to trying to demonize Trump and make it all about him.”
Announcing before the midterms could play into the Democratic Party’s hands by helping them mobilize their base, the aide said.
“Look at what they’re doing at the January 6 hearing,” the aide continued. “They’re trying to make it all about Trump all the time. The reason why people want to vote Republican is not because they want Trump necessarily. It’s because they see how terrible Democrat leadership is, all of the terrible things that are happening under his leadership, under a Democrat and a majority, Democrat, House majority, it’s because of the policies.”
The Daily Wire spoke with over a dozen Republican aides who all requested anonymity to avoid implicating their employers. Although many said they would rather see Trump step aside for a less polarizing figure such as Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL), they all said they expect Trump to run and that they intend to support him if he does.
One senior GOP aide speculated that Trump would not announce before the midterms but is merely “teasing” the idea for voters and reminding donors to save their big checks for his re-election rather than “dish them out to someone like Tom Cotton.”
“I really don’t want him to announce prior to the midterms,” another GOP aide said. “Right now, the midterms…are a referendum on Joe Biden and Joe Biden’s administration, which by every sort of lever have been an abject failure up to this point. I think that we’re in a really good spot to have a really good year.
“I don’t think interjecting Trump into the midterm equation and allowing the Democrats to run against Trump again in the midterms is a wise move for the party,” that aide added.
Some staffers are fearful that the turbulent end of Trump’s presidency — and the Democrat-led January 6 committee investigation — cast a shadow that he may not be able to outrun.
“In a perfect world, for his own sake if nothing else, it’d be ideal if he would have someone take the reins while he took on the kingmaker role from the Mar-a-Largo golf course,” said a senior GOP aide who supports the former president. “But we know that just isn’t how he’s wired – he wants to be in the fight.”
Trump still has strong support among Republican lawmakers, many of whom have already publicly stated that they would support him. The Daily Wire spoke with several GOP members of Congress who did not think a pre-midterm announcement would negatively affect Republican wins.
According to Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-IN), “having Donald Trump out there campaigning is good for Republicans not just in 2024 but in 2022 as well.”
“I believe that President Trump brings a lot to the table, and he brings a lot to the table right now,” Banks said. “We need to fire up the Trump base to get out and vote in November to win back the majority in the house and the senate.”
“I say the sooner the better for him to get out and kick off his campaign and fire up the crowds and remind the voters what we had for four years was substantially better than what we have today,” the Indiana Republican added, noting, “If that happens before the midterms, then Trump’s voters will turnout in record numbers and we’ll see the biggest flip since 1994.”
And Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) doesn’t think it matters when Trump announces.
“The country knows how bad Biden is,” Jordan said. “We went from a secure border to chaos. We went from energy independence to Biden begging Iran, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, begging people to increase production. We went from stable prices to a 41 year high inflation rate. We went from safe streets to record crime where we have the foreign policy mess that was the exit from Afghanistan.”
“It’s intentional,” Jordan added, “and the country sees it. It’s why nine out of ten of our fellow citizens think the country is on the wrong track and why we need someone with the leadership, the toughness, and who puts America first, like President Trump.”
The possibility that DeSantis could run is also a hot topic on Capitol Hill. Aides glowingly describe the Florida governor as having that same energy and momentum as Trump, saying that they “love” DeSantis and “think he would be a great president.”
“[DeSantis is] pretty savvy. He could kind of go either way for me,” mused one House Republican staffer, adding, “I think he’s a much more unifying force than Trump. I would pick him over Trump for sure.”
Another GOP aide described DeSantis as “the best hope of the Republican Party.”
“DeSantis is Trumpism without Trump,” the aide said. “All of the policies — including the ability to go through with them — and none of Trump’s baggage.”
“If you look at how he handled COVID, if you look at what he did with Disney, what he did with the Special Olympics, like he just he says he’s going to do stuff and then he gets it done without all the back and forth and kind of muddying the waters and getting into fights that that don’t help him,” the aide explained.
And though GOP lawmakers echo such praise of the Florida governor, they also indicate that DeSantis’s time is not yet to come.
“If Donald Trump runs, I believe he clears the field, he’s the nominee,” Banks said. “And if he’s the nominee, he’s going to win in November 2024.”
“I think he’s done a great job as governor,” Jordan said of the Florida governor. “But I’m for President Trump.”