Former President Donald Trump is a provocative figure. I’ve talked to Dems who have ridiculously called him a “dictator.” Those people are serious cretins, as Trump didn’t shut down any opposing media and, in what would have been a strange move for a dictator, left office.
Republicans are divided on Trump. A solid majority still see him favorably, while about a third of GOP voters view him in a negative light. Other Republican presidential candidates will have to remember that Trump majority and walk a thin tightrope between getting their by definition anti-Trump message out while not alienating Trump voters they will need to win both the primaries and the general election.
Hit Trump too hard and his supporters will hold a grudge. Go too soft on him and you’ll never get the nomination over him.
It’s kind of like the Avalon-Hill board game Diplomacy. In that game, set in 1914, you have to form the right alliances to move to the top rank. But then you must sell out your allies at just the right time to achieve European hegemony and win. Learned to play it at US Army Intelligence School. It’s great training for politics.
Haley, Ramaswamy, and others will have to form loose alliances so Trump doesn’t cut them up piecemeal. Yet one of them will have to emerge from the pack and take Trump on one on one to have any chance of beating him.
The challenger candidates are hoping events conspire to hurt Trump. The most interesting of those potential issues could be a very possible pending indictment in Georgia related to the former president’s request of Georgia state officials to “find” the 11,000 votes that would have put him over the top.
A gabby member of the grand jury looking into the matter has been all over the media hinting at those who may be indicted. Trump and several of his closest associates are said to be on that list. This eventuality has other Republican presidential candidates salivating, as they hope an indictment and trial during campaign season will cripple Trump.
However, his most ardent followers would see it as further proof of martyrdom and react vigorously at the polls. Though, on the electability factor some current Trump supporters might give their support a second thought.
If Trump is indicted and goes to court the tightrope becomes even thinner for other Republican candidates. They will want Trump hit hard by the development, but won’t want their fingerprints on the weapon. Hogan, if he runs, may be an exception to that and would most likely go after Trump with a vengeance.
DeSantis may be waiting for a Trump indictment to officially get in the race, as many Republicans will be looking for anyone but a nominee who is also a defendant. If the governor of Florida gets in expect other Republicans to drop out and back him. Then the Republican fight gets serious. Very serious and very bloody. Stay tuned.