SIOUX CENTER, Iowa ( Associated Press) — Surprising new revelations about former President Donald Trump’s fight to reverse the 2020 election have exposed growing political weaknesses, just as he is eyeing another presidential bid.
A former White House aide this week described Trump as a staunch leader who cared for the safety of elected officials in either party since he was in power on January 6, 2021. The testimony of a congressional panel investigating the Capitol attack provided a roadmap. Some legal experts say prosecutors to potentially charge Trump with the crime.
Republican voters – and Trump’s opponents – took notice in the 2024 presidential race.
Here in Iowa, the state was expected to host the first presidential nomination contest in nearly 18 months, with many voters indicating on Thursday they were open to another presidential candidate, even if Trump runs again. At the same time, some conservative media outlets issued a scathing rebuke of the former president. Allies of several GOP presidential prospects also indicated, publicly and privately, that they felt increasingly excited to challenge Trump in 2024 following explosive new testimony.
Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley drew nearly 350 conservative workers Thursday to a congressional fundraising barbecue in Sioux County, where Trump won 82% of the vote in 2020.
And there was ample evidence of Trump’s fatigue. Interviews with a dozen attendees revealed strong interest in the option for 2024, even if Trump is on the ballot.
“You’d be hard pressed to find people in this area who support the idea that people aren’t looking for anyone else,” said Dave Van Wyk, owner of the transport company. “To assume that a conservative America is 100% behind Donald Trump is simply not the case.”
For some Republican voters, the sentiment was the same even before this week’s surprising new testimony.
Former White House staffer Cassidy Hutchinson on Tuesday offered previously unknown details about the extent of Trump’s anger in the final weeks of his office, his awareness that some supporters had brought weapons to the city on Jan. His ambition later led to a siege. Capital.
Disturbed by the size of the crowd at his “Stop the Steel” rally – many supporters avoided entering because they were armed and did not want to go through metal detectors – Trump said under the influence of the words, “I don’t care. They have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me,” according to Hutchinson. He recalled hearing about a separate incident after the rally in which Trump tried to grab the steering wheel of a presidential vehicle on his way to the Capitol to join his supporters.
That description has caused some shock. The agent who was driving the vehicle and another officer were reportedly set to testify under oath that Trump never lunged for the wheel.
But renewed concern was evident,
The editorial board of the conservative Washington Examiner said Hutchinson’s testimony “should sound the death knell” for Trump’s political career. “Trump doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near power again.”
The often Trump-friendly New York Post blasted the headline: “dictator Trump.” And the Wall Street Journal’s conservative editorial page wrote, “When it seems like Donald Trump’s behavior couldn’t possibly look worse after the 2020 losses, comes a new piece of wild testimony.”
To be sure, conservatives have repeatedly shared serious concerns about Trump in recent years. And in every respect, the former president has emerged largely immaculate, sometimes strong. He is caught in a video bragging about sexual assault; He instigated a violent attack on the Capitol; And he has been impeached twice.
Yet Trump sits on campaign funding that exceeds $101 million and is deeply popular with many Republican voters. No question, Republican candidates from Arizona to Pennsylvania to Georgia are battling each other for their support this midterm season.
“The American people are hungry for his leadership,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budovich said, citing Trump’s strong support record and fundraising success. “And as there’s another witch hunt on the faces of the Democrats, President Trump is now in a stronger position than he was before.”
But even before this week’s revelations, a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 48% of American adults say they blame Trump for his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. should be accused.
Trump’s views on criminal liability predictably break along party lines, with 86% of Democrats and 10% of Republicans saying Trump should be charged. Still, the fact that nearly half the country believes he should be prosecuted is a remarkable position for the former president, pointing to the difficulties he faced in making another run at the White House. does.
Trump reported raising nearly $9 million in March and April combined. Figures for May and June were not yet available, but aides of the former president say his fundraising remains strong.
Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, eyeing a presidential bid in 2024, says he was hearing concerns from donors and voters alike about Trump ahead of this week’s testimony. Adds to the “cumulative weight” of its political shortcomings.
“People are worried that we might lose the election in ’24 and want to make sure we don’t nominate someone who would be seriously flawed,” Christie said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who is also considering a 2024 run, said he sees Trump beat Trump in the GOP primary, even though Republican voters are not paying as much attention to congressional hearings as he suspects.
“His acceptance among Republican primary voters has already waned somewhat,” Hogan said in an interview. “Trump was the least popular president in American history until Joe Biden.”
Aides to other Republican presidential prospects said privately this week that Trump may still be the overwhelming favorite for the next GOP presidential nomination, but he believes his position with Republican voters is consistent. been in decline. There was a widespread feeling – or at least a hope – that Hutchinson’s testimony would accelerate that decline among voters and donors in a way that would open up opportunities for others.
Mark Short, a senior adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence, another potential 2024 presidential contender, was blunt when asked about Trump’s political might.
“Republican activists believed that Donald Trump was the only candidate who could defeat Hillary,” Short said. “Now, the dynamic is reversed. He is the only one who has lost to Joe Biden.”
Indeed, Trump’s potential Republican contenders are leaning.
Wyoming Rape. Liz Cheney, who serves on the January 6 commission and has not ruled out a 2024 presidential bid, described Trump as a direct threat to American democracy in a Wednesday night speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
“Republicans cannot be loyal to Donald Trump and loyal to the Constitution. We have to choose,” she said.
Haley, who has said she will not seek the 2024 GOP nomination if Trump runs, declined to say Thursday whether testimony gave her reason to reconsider that plan. Instead, he heard an upbeat note.
“If it looks like there’s room for me next year, I’ve never lost a race, I’m not going to start now,” Haley told reporters. “I’ll put in 1,000% and I’ll get it done. And if there is no place for me, I will fight for this country till my last breath.
Farmer Bob de Koning said he was devoted to Trump. He plans to support her in Iowa’s leadoff caucus, no matter who runs.
But his wife, Cathy de Koning, said, “we can do better.”
“I don’t know if he’s electable now,” she said.
People reported from New York. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.
A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that Trump’s fundraising numbers have dropped dramatically over the past two months.