As presidential field grows, so do GOP warnings against Trump '24

Niels Lesniewski, Mary Ellen McIntire, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The Republican field seeking to deny former President Donald Trump his party’s nomination in 2024 grew this week, potentially improving his chances of winning it anyway against divided opposition.

But far from seeing Trump as a sure thing, Senate Republicans seem content to go their own way in the presidential race. Some are endorsing Trump, while others are decidedly not going that route.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., became the highest-ranking lawmaker to endorse someone other than Trump when he appeared in North Charleston, S.C., at the presidential campaign launch for Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., on Monday. A person familiar with Thune’s thinking said the senator had previously encouraged Scott to enter the race, believing that his message could resonate.

Thune was joined by fellow South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds in the Scott column. Scott’s senior senator, Judiciary Committee ranking member Lindsey Graham, has supported Trump’s bid for another term from the outset, even as both Scott and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have entered the field.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who has not yet endorsed for 2024, was asked on CNN on Sunday about Trump’s general election prospects and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ argument that the only candidates who could win next year are himself or President Joe Biden.

“I don’t think Trump can win a general election, but that’s a nice way for him to diss people like Tim Scott, who’s a pretty formidable candidate,” Cassidy said of DeSantis. “So, you just have to take this as a competitor trying to diss others.”


Cassidy also noted that Trump’s track record on Republican endorsements in 2022 Senate races did not necessarily yield the most electable candidates. Democrats, who could have lost control of the Senate last year, ended up gaining one seat, in Pennsylvania. Ahead of next year’s elections, Democrats dominate the list of most vulnerable incumbents.

“I think the president’s kind of high-profile endorsement of those candidates actually hurt those candidates, at least in the general election,” Cassidy said. “If past is prologue, that means President Trump is going to have a hard time in those swing states, which means that he cannot win a general election.”

Last week, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told reporters in his state that Republicans “need to come up with an alternative” because Trump’s “time has passed him by.”

“There’s no question that President Trump has some enthusiastic supporters in his base,” Cornyn said. “That works well for him in a Republican primary, but not well when you need to expand your appeal in a general election.”


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