POLITICAL Ryan Lizza brings us the Trump and Biden campaigns as they enter the final stretch – in circumstances unlike any election in U.S. history.
The early feud that has already erupted within the House GOP is being fueled by Trump’s poll numbers and growing fears that Republicans could sink further into the House minority, and highlight the anxiety at the GOP conference just three months before the election.
Several sources familiar with the party̵7;s internal dynamics have warned that any potential effort to advance top Republican leaders could be difficult. Only a simple majority is needed to secure a leadership position in the House minority, and the caucus does not contain an in-depth bank of potential challengers. There are also positions down that can become competitive and offer an outlet for ambitious Republicans, from the head of the House GOP campaign arm to an open slot as vice president of the conference.
But Trump’s loyal and more conservative-type establishment is already trying to get off the ground ahead of the election: At a recent GOP private conference meeting first reported by POLITICS, some of the most ferocious allies of Trump were blamed on Cheney for not being loyal enough to the president and she said it would be the fault if Trump and the GOP come out in November.
The fighting then spread to the public view, with Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) Calls on Cheney – the highest Republican woman – to be removed from her position as conference chair.
“There are a lot of people interested in change,” said Gaetz, who took a particular issue with Cheney’s previous support for a primary opponent for Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). “I just don’t understand how we’re going to win the majority back if our leadership comes after our members in the primaries.”
“I always knew Liz was supporting‘ wars forever, ’but I hope she doesn’t want war forever with her own conference,” he added in an interview.
Cheney stood in place during the closed-door meeting and hit back at Gaetz with a shot about his upcoming HBO documentary about his efforts to “drain the mouse”; She also vowed publicly to continue to speak out against Trump whenever she feels it is necessary.
GOP leaders sought to put a united front and suggestions that the party split in November. But the dust offered a sneak peak of the potentially messy battle to come.
“I think that’s all that’s going to happen in November. The Freedom Caucus guys are trying to put them [Cheney] back in her corner, ”said another GOP lawmaker, who was given anonymity to speak as a candidate.“ She’s playing the long game. People at the Conference are looking that out. “
Cheney’s public criticism of Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s strong support have been interpreted by some of Cheney’s colleagues as an attempt to build a distinct brand within the GOP and put itself in Trump’s case. – and McCarthy or Scalise – look, though no one thinks. are looking for that scenario.
In contrast, McCarthy and Scalise both bonded closely with Trump; the president even refers to the minority leader as “my Kevin.” A wide GOP loss can lead to calls for new leadership as the party seeks answers – and guilt.
“I’m not sure McCarthy and Scalise are prepared to be in the minority and with President Dem,” the GOP lawmaker said. “Members are already frustrated. It’s boiling and it’s going ugly.”
Another Republican member said: “I think there will be a leadership problem if there is a loss … If we get any seats, I think Kevin will stay there.”
But even if Republicans lose the White House and additional House seats, McCarthy and Scalise could be fine. The shape of the GOP conference has grown more conservative in recent years and a smaller GOP House with less moderates could be even more Trumpy after November, regardless of whether the president sticks around another four years. Embracing Trump properly is hardly a sin in today’s GOP.
McCarthy’s allies also argue that the minority leader’s fundraising shocks, relations with members and efforts to run the party through execution should strengthen his case. . Meanwhile Scalise, has obtained plaudits to help the GOP gain a number of victories over procedural votes and is also a strong fundraiser; he never faced a leadership challenge.
There is also the question of who, if anyone, can challenge a serious challenge to the top GOP leaders.
Cheney – an ambitious and fast-growing star in the party – was once placed as a potential speaker or leader. The Wyoming Republican even went so far as to bid for an open Senate seat to remain in the House, a clear sign of where her priorities lie. Her allies praised Cheney’s messaging tactics and intelligence while remaining loyal to Trump’s conservative agenda; they also think it can help the party to make the necessary roads well with female voters.
But the breakup with Trump’s allies – and a public rebuke from Trump on Twitter – have raised new questions about Cheney’s future and her upward mobility in the GOP House, especially if Trump wins. Cheney’s fundraising looks good compared to that of McCarthy and Scalise, although her office pointed out that it’s because it’s focused on raising money directly for candidates and the branch of -campaign.
Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) Acknowledged that Cheney’s criticism of Trump could hurt her. He added that, “in families there are always disputes.”
“I don’t think there are ramifications for it,” added Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.). “She’s doing such a good job.”
Rejecting a woman with the highest rank in the GOP can also be a bad idea – unless a different woman takes a place somewhere in the leadership. Gaetz refused to name the potential challenger for Cheney and said he doesn’t want the job himself.
Cheney has secured the current leadership position by announcing a challenge to another legislator, but it is unclear whether she is willing to play games for a higher position if that means taking McCarthy or Scalise. When she announced her plans to stay at the House, she went out of her way to say she was looking forward to seeing McCarthy as a speaker.
At a recent news conference, Cheney eased the dispute with her conservative colleagues and instead focused on emphasizing how awful the Biden-Schumer-Pelosi agenda is for Republicans.
“Some groups like to throw a lot of stones. The leadership has to take it and run with it, and that is what it is doing, ”said Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), For an allusion to the hard-line House Freedom Caucus of Cheney’s recent embush. “To agitate someone, maybe there are just personality differences.”
It was only two years ago that Rep. Jim Jordan, a notorious troublemaker for leadership and co-founder of the Freedom Caucus, unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy for the GOP leader. Since then, however, the Ohio Republican has been considered more of a team player and has even landed a coveted role as the House Judiciary Committee ranking member.
But during the controversial GOP conference meeting, his colleague saw the beautiful old Jordan as he piled on Cheney, suggesting that her criticism of Trump could hurt the president and the party during the election – the exact kind of argument he or his colleagues are likely to make if they try to target Cheney after an election crackdown.
“If a president goes down, then you won’t win a majority back,” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), who also spoke out against Cheney during the meeting. “People are always free to talk in their minds. But we’ll see how it goes from here to November.”