With Donald Trump poised to jump back into the political spotlight with his keynote address at the annual CPAC conference today, not only is the gratefully-accepted national respite from hearing those grating Queens-accented tones reverberate in your ear canals now over but the 2024 Republican campaign for the presidential nomination is now officially open.
Judging from the literal golden-calf level of adoration being displayed towards the former guy at the gathering of right-wing activists, one would think that Trump’s nomination to become the GOP’s candidate is already a foregone conclusion.
Some Republicans, however, are not as sure as the devotional mob at CPAC.
While only seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial, now one of those senators is saying definitively that he doesn’t think that Trump will actually be able to pull off the political resurrection to bag the GOP nomination in the next presidential contest.
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) hit the Sunday morning talk show circuit today with an appearance on CNN‘s State of the Union and discussed his reasons for his belief that more reasonable voices in the party will prevail with host Dana Bash.
Bash asked the Louisiana lawmaker if he, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would support Donald Trump if he were to run again in 2024.
Cassidy managed to dodge the question of his potential support for the disgraced former president by denying the premise of Bash’s question.
“That’s a theoretical that I don’t think will come to pass,” Cassidy answered. “I don’t mean to duck, but the truth is you could ask me [about] a lot of people, if they are fit. Point is, I don’t think he’ll be our nominee.”
While many people may agree with Senator Cassidy’s assessment of the political landscape within the Republican Party, their expectations are that criminal prosecutions at either the federal level or by state authorities in New York or Georgia will wind up being the disqualifying factor preventing Trump from getting a second shot at a presidency in which he failed so spectacularly the first time around.
Or perhaps, a Democratically-controlled Congress will pass a bill to prevent Trump from running again because of his seditious activities on January 6th that he managed to escape impeachment for because of the 60 vote super-majority requirement for conviction. A vote to remove Trump’s eligibility for office according to the 3rd section of the 14 Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would only take a simple majority in the Senate to pass.
Senator Cassidy, however, cited none of those reasons as his rationale for why Republicans would never again nominate Trump for president, using a much more practical measure as his justification for his prediction.
“Political campaigns are about winning,” Cassidy declared, noting that the GOP had majorities in both the House and the Senate when Trump took office and now is completely shut out from leading any branch of governement.
“That has not happened in a single four years under a president since Herbert Hoover,” Cassidy said, evoking the previous biggest loser in Republican presidential history.
While Senator Cassidy may believe that the grown-ups in the GOP will prevail in determining their next presidential candidate, the disruptive throngs of MAGA supporters flocking to CPAC who seemingly won’t abandon Trump no matter what he does still wield considerable influence over the party’s future direction.
CNN’s Bash challenged Cassidy by pointing out the level of power that the ex-president still commended within the party and how it might not be so easy for the party establishment to counter that force.
“CPAC is not the entirety of the Republican Party,” Cassidy stated. “If we idolize one person, we will lose,” he added, suggesting that his party should focus less on building a cult of personality and more on appealing to disffected GOP deserters who crossed over to vote for Biden in the last election.
“If we speak to those issues, to those families, to those individuals, that’s when we win.”
Whether a sufficient number of other Republican Party members agree with Cassidy’s practical approach to determining the party’s next presidential candidate still remains to be seen.
However, the defection of a senator from a major Southern state from the Trump camp is a significant development that bears watching between now and the 2024 Republican National Convention.
You can watch an excerpt of Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy on CNN‘s State of the Union in the video clip below.
Sen. Bill Cassidy says he doesn’t think fmr. Pres. Trump will be the GOP nominee for president in 2024. "Over the last four years, we lost the House… the Senate and the presidency" which has not happened since Herbert Hoover. "If we idolize one person, we will lose" #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/F6mhjVyZ4p
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) February 28, 2021
Original reporting by John Bowden at The Hill.
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