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Horowitz: 2020 primaries: Will Trump learn lesson from endorsing Mitt Romney?

Horowitz: 2020 primaries: Will Trump learn lesson from endorsing Mitt Romney?

It’s obvious that you can’t drain the swamp without actually draining the swamp. It should be even more obvious that you certainly can’t drain the swamp by backfilling it with even more muck. The question for the president, as he is confronted with the rebellion of Mitt Romney in the impeachment trial, is: Will he learn from the mistake of endorsing Romney in the Utah Senate primary as more primary endorsement opportunities present themselves?

Primaries matter. The gulf between nominating a real conservative and nominating a nominal Republican is often as wide, if not wider, than the gulf between choosing a Republican over a Democrat in a general election. Yet everyone sleeps during the primaries, enabling those with all the money and name ID, aka the swamp monsters, to continue winning re-nomination and for new swampsters to win crowded primary races for open seats.

President Trump has the ability to change the trajectory of the Republican Party by getting involved in primaries, but by and large, not only has he declined to endorse insurgent candidates who would back him loyally, he has often endorsed some of his worst adversaries. Trump’s power in a primary is a double-edged sword. Were he to endorse fellow MAGA candidates, he would have a good chance of sweeping into power an unprecedented number of conservatives, despite any lack of candidate funding. But the minute he chooses to endorse a swamp candidate, it is a death knell for his very best supporters, killing the small chance they had to win in the first place.

Thanks to Mitt Romney’s demands that witnesses be called in the Senate trial, this pointless impeachment trial may continue. And when Romney is not personally attacking the president, he is working on leftist ideas like global warming socialism. It didn’t have to be this way.

When Romney decided to run for Senate after longtime Utah Senator Orrin Hatch retired, there was another option. State Rep. Mike Kennedy was an elected official who had a lot more to do with Utah politics than Mitt Romney did. Yes, Romney was a presidential candidate with an enormous amount of money and full name ID. But he also had a history of trashing Trump, and it was quite evident that he would not change direction upon entering the Senate. Trump could have thrown his support behind Kennedy. At worst, he could have stayed on the sidelines. But instead he endorsed Romney, even though he was not an incumbent, dealing a death blow to any alternative.

Well, Romney hasn’t made a great senator. All he does is virtue-signal in the media and echo all their gripes against the president on nearly every one of his policy proposals. Rather than replacing Orrin Hatch as senator from Utah, he has apparently replaced John McCain as the GOP go-to senator for the media.

Unfortunately, as I’ve chronicled before, this exercise in self-sabotage, of Trump endorsing anti-Trump candidates and incumbents, has played out over and over again. He did this by endorsing Luther Strange over Mo Brooks in the Alabama Senate race. He did this by endorsing Thom Tillis in the North Carolina Senate race, when for once, there was actually a challenger with money (who has since dropped out). He also endorsed weak Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith in Mississippi over conservative favorite Chris McDaniel. In addition, many of the liberal governors defying Trump on refugee resettlement were endorsed by him.

Last week, the Daily Wire reported that Trump endorsed a liberal candidate in the Florida-26 congressional primary who voted for Hillary Clinton and demanded that Trump drop out of the presidential race. A fierce Trump loyalist was passed over.

It would be one thing for Trump to automatically oppose anyone who crosses him, but that clearly is not the case. He only opposes those who cross him who are also out of favor with the establishment.  But that is no way to drain the swamp. It seems clear that the establishment types like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have his ear when it comes to endorsements.

Trump needs to consider what his second term will look like with the same swampy GOP House and Senate. We were told that expanding the GOP majority in the Senate from 51 to 53 seats after the midterm elections would give Trump a buffer to pass his priorities. Yet he can’t even get many of his executive nominees confirmed, which is why so many critical players in the administration, such as Ken Cuccinelli, are still serving in an “acting” capacity.

Imagine if Trump loyalists were assured that, were they to take a leap of faith and run against the party establishment, Trump would have their backs. We would witness the earth-shattering change within the party that Trump’s base was pining for in 2016. Yet, at present, all they know is that the establishment candidate will always get the endorsement, which further dissuades anyone from destroying their careers and running a suicide campaign for office. Now that Trump has stormed the castle, he needs to secure the ladder for reinforcements, not pull it out from under those charging right behind him.

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Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz

Blaze Podcast Host

Daniel Horowitz is the host of “Conservative Review with Daniel Horowitz” and a senior editor for Blaze News.
@RMConservative →