J.D. Vance and Eric Schmitt were both elected to the Senate with the help of Donald Trump’s endorsement. They’re almost ready to repay the favor.
According to two people briefed on Vance’s plans, the Ohio Republican has told allies in recent months that he plans to endorse Trump in the Republican primary.
And Schmitt, who Trump officially backed when he supported “Eric” in the Missouri GOP race last year, said on Monday that he would vote for Trump.
Trump is “extremely popular in Missouri,” Schmitt remarked in an interview. “He’s been someone who has received a lot of support from Missourians in the past. “He has my backing.”
Only two other upper-house Republicans, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) have supported Trump since the 2022 midterm elections.
And, while the four Senate GOP endorsements are an early indication that Trump is the favorite in the 2024 primary, it is still a far cry from the show of support on Capitol Hill that Trump had as an incumbent president four years ago.
But much has happened since then: two impeachments, a deadly Capitol riot, and a presidential campaign that has only progressed slowly in the two months since it began.
Not to mention the intra-party ground Trump lost by endorsing Republican Senate candidates who lost in Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Furthermore, Trump has a serious prospective primary opponent in Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, in addition to numerous other candidates considering a run.
Given the dramatically changing scenario, Tuberville regarded Trump’s gradual buildup as deliberate. He stated that he just met with Trump, who informed him that “we’re going to do modest ones early and kind of build our momentum, create our teams in each state.”
“I’m going to be upset in the summertime if we don’t have more [endorsements].” That’s how I’ll put it. ” “It’s not a big deal right now,” Tuberville remarked.
Trump launched his campaign in New Hampshire and South Carolina this weekend, taking preemptive blows at DeSantis. On Capitol Hill on Monday, the venture was met with mixed reactions, particularly in the Senate. House Republicans have been significantly more eager to support Trump during his third presidential attempt.
Some Republicans, particularly those in senior ranks, believe an alternative candidate has a good chance. According to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), “there appears to be a rising willingness to have some new blood.”
“There will be choices this time around, it sounds like,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), who dubbed DeSantis “quite formidable.” Others could exist.”A request for a response from a Trump official was not returned.
Trump supporters and detractors agree on one point: the campaign is still in its early stages, and many Capitol Hill Republicans are hesitant to make an endorsement until the field is decided.
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Fellow senators like Tim Scott (R-SC) and other top GOP figures like DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley may still run. Many senators are hesitant to make enemies early on.
Things move quickly in presidential contests, however. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) declared his 2016 presidential campaign in March 2015, whereas Trump declared in June and had almost no establishment support until he began thrashing his opponents in the primaries.
“They have to figure it out for themselves… “They’re all politicians,” Graham said.”No one backed him the last time he won.”
And some say they won’t comment at all. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.), another first-term senator, stated that her membership on the RNC advisory committee prevents her from giving an endorsement.
“That’s a fair question, and I’m focusing on the Senate,” said Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont. ), who leads the conference’s campaign arm. “Politics is all about adding, not subtracting.”
Other Republicans are waiting to see if Trump’s early hints about waging a more traditional campaign this time around come true.
“What I liked about him is that he indicated he’s talking about the future,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind. ), who is running for governor of his state in 2024. “He could put together a winning recipe if he stays focused on the future and just makes references to the past about how excellent his record was before Cohen.”
Braun’s ambivalence, however, is telling. During Trump’s first impeachment trial, he was one of his staunchest supporters, along with other longstanding allies, including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) have yet to comment on the primary.
Trump’s campaign has likewise had a rocky start. Within weeks of his announcement, he dined with anti-Semites and recommended that the Constitution be repealed.
Even though problems and federal investigations are going on, Republicans privately say that Trump could be their nominee again, especially if there are a lot of candidates and his base of support stays strong.
Even senators with opposing political views said they were open to considering his re-election campaign.
“I’ll have a look at it.” “I’m going through the same process that everyone else is,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who hailed DeSantis as “very effective” but wants to see if his political approach works on a national scale. “It’s just not something I’ve ever talked about two years out in my relatively short career in politics.”