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Republicans are fighting for control of Congress. Just don’t ask what they will do if they win.
Look for no more evidence of the GOP’s convoluted agenda than the battlefield in North Carolina, where party leaders gathered in a conference room Saturday night to cheer on former President Donald Trump. Even with the upcoming US Senate elections, Republicans were not united by any consistent conservative policies or principles, but Trump’s groundless claims for the 2020 elections and his attacks on critics of both parties.
The lack of a forward-looking agenda is in stark contrast to the successful midterm elections of past years, especially in 1994 and 2010, when Republicans came to power after taking a clear line on health, federal spending, and crime, among other issues. Without such a strategy, leading up to 2022, Republicans risk allowing themselves to be entirely determined by Trump, who lost his last election when he won 7 million fewer votes in the country than Democrat Joe Biden and who saw his popularity continue to plummet even among the general public. some Republicans who left office in January.
“I don’t know about the GOP agenda. I’d love to see this, ”said Texas-based conservative activist and former Tea Party leader Mark Meckler.
“Nobody knows what they are about,” he said of today’s Republicans. “They do it at their own risk.”
The GOP’s acceptance of Trump’s self-serving priorities has almost completely destroyed the party’s longstanding commitment to fiscal discipline, free markets, and even the rule of law. As a result, Republican candidates from North Carolina to North Dakota are unwilling or unable to tell voters how they will tackle the country’s biggest problems if given the opportunity.
Party leaders admit it may take another year or more before Republicans develop a clear governance agenda. Meanwhile, Trump, who is much more focused on the past than the future, plans to become a permanent feature of the campaign again. Based on Saturday’s performance in North Carolina, his advisers are monitoring potential rallies in states hosting the highest Senate races in 2022, including Ohio, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
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In an interview, Florida Senator Rick Scott, who heads the Senate’s Republican political department, gave a lax response to questions about Trump’s role in the upcoming campaign.
“We both want to reclaim the majority in 2022. I tell him what I’m doing and I would like to get his support, ”- said Scott about Trump.
He objected when asked if Trump should be the face of the GOP in the medium term, with control of the House, Senate and dozens of governors at stake.
“Every individual race is the face of the party,” Scott said, noting that there will be hundreds of Republican candidates running for the interim ballots. “The party is those people, it is not one person, this is not one person’s agenda.”
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For now, when Republicans don’t join Trump, they are focusing most of their energy on culture wars and opposing Biden’s agenda. The president, backed by a narrow Democratic majority in the House and Senate, has already passed a $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that was widely popular with voters. Now he is promoting a massive infrastructure package that polls show may be just as popular.
Gov. Larry Hogan, R-MD, is concerned that Republicans may be missing out on built-in advantages in their quest to regain control of Congress and expand their dominance at the expense of governorship. In recent history, the party outside the White House has almost always achieved significant success in the first midterm elections for a new president.
Democrats will lose control of Congress if Republicans turn over only five seats in the House of Representatives and only one in the Senate.
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“The only way to screw up is with Donald Trump,” Hogan told The Associated Press, lamenting that Republicans in Washington are engrossed in strife and “will swear allegiance to one man.”
The two-term governor who often criticizes Trump continued: “I’m really a little disappointed that the GOP doesn’t seem to be focused on the agenda. It doesn’t seem to make sense to make consistent arguments for what people care about. “
Some Republican leaders close to Trump are urging him to look to the future.
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The former president is set to meet with the chairman of the Republican Research Committee, Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana, this week to begin discussions on the party’s policy recommendations if the GOP returns a House majority next year.
In recent weeks, Trump met privately with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Georgia, and Senator Lindsay Graham, RS.C. to discuss the creation of a policy document under Gingrich’s famous “Contract with America” that sets out clear and a short Republican agenda prior to the 1994 GOP mid-term success.
Trump adviser Jason Miller said it was “a bit exaggerated” to suggest that Trump is actively working with Gingrich to produce the document.
Meanwhile, Republican candidates in key Senate contests, including North Carolina, are struggling to offer voters a clear vision of what they will do if elected as they fight to support Trump.
At least three Republicans are vying to succeed in the resignation of North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, who was convicted by party leaders for supporting Trump’s impeachment in February. Former Gov. Pat McCrory, current Rep. Ted Budd, and former MP Mark Walker are all in the running for the Republican nomination.
After Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, pulled out of the race over the weekend, Trump officially endorsed Budd, the only Republican primary candidate to vote against confirming Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election.
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Walker described himself as the most “Trump supporter of the North Carolina Congressman,” but that was clearly not enough to garner Trump’s support.
In addition to courting Trump, Budd also fought the GOP culture wars. In his kick-off video, the gun shop owner spoke about the growing immigration on the Mexican border and the decision of publisher Dr. Seuss to stop printing some of the popular children’s books by book authors because of racist imagery. Budd said that he read books to his children, “and they turned out to be very good.”
Trump hit McCrory in Saturday’s address, reminding voters, without being named, that the former Republican governor had previously lost two elections.
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McCrory, who comes from the business wing of the GOP, took elements of Trump’s agenda but criticized Trump’s false claims of electoral fraud.
“I’m not going to be distracted by talking about the past because I care about the future,” he told AP in April.
With the 17 months to go to the 2022 general election, and with a small number of voters paying close attention to the mid-term game, Republicans have time to develop an agenda that goes beyond Trump’s grudge and conservative culture wars.
But it is unclear if there is sufficient political will.
Scott, a Florida senator, said his party should ultimately communicate what it is for, not just what it is against. But he noted that The Contract with America was released just two months before the 1994 elections.
“I don’t know if America will have a real contract, or if everyone will be more in line with what they are talking about,” Scott said of the Republican agenda several months in advance.
As for Trump, Scott added: “I think he will be useful to you.”
Reported from New York.
© 2021 Canadian Press
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