Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hannity didn’t follow up with a question about the legal concerns that Trump noted. That question might have brought some clarity to Trump’s remarks and yielded real news. Instead, Hannity continued with the fawning he had carried on for more than 40 minutes, asking, “If you did run and did win what would you do differently?”
I paid close attention to Trump’s reply and noticed that before he said a word, he struck a defensive pose, folding his arms cross his chest. He then said, “Um when I came in, we were hit with phony Russia, Russia, Russia investigations.” What ensued was a litany of complaints from Trump about the “phony hoax” and — surprise, surprise — not a word about what he would do differently.
However, Trump is nothing if not brazen and his pivot to blaming others is a move out of his well-thumbed playbook. So, too, is the suggestion that he’s contemplating running for president.
From his first flirtation in 1987 to his 2015 declaration for the GOP nomination, Trump showed that his star power would dazzle much of the press and create a firm bond with a sizable number of voters. Though he fell far short in the popular vote in 2016, his success in the Electoral College made him president and during his time in office he displayed a fearsome ability to wind up his supporters.
Trump’s announcement that he’s “beyond seriously” considering a 2024 bid plays right into the dynamic that keeps him in control of the party. It applies pressure to would-be candidates for almost any office, who will be asked to declare their fealty to Trump, and it could paralyze any effort to craft a post-Trump party that could actually win a majority of the votes cast in a national election.
As Bush would know, the country is served best when both major parties present ideas and competent candidates with the temperament and integrity required for public service. Trump has, for years, pulled the GOP away from its roots as a functioning party in service to democracy and toward one-man rule. After a brief hiatus, he’s back and offering more of the same.
Before they choose between the competing visions of Bush and Trump, Republicans might want to consider the past election and Trump’s current poll numbers, and ask: “How did it work out for us the last time?”