It has become quieter around Trump, the former President of the United States. But he still sets the tone for the Republicans who will congratulate him on his birthday today. In spite of everything. Meanwhile, Trump is hoping for his next comeback coup.
No Twitter, no Facebook, no continuous media fire – Donald Trump seems to have disappeared from the political scene. But that only works from this side of the Atlantic. He remains present in his home country: He is still the most important head of the Republicans, their most promising candidate for the next presidential election and at the same time a ghost that causes fears and suspicions among moderate party members and some Democrats.
Trump is now 75 years old and is likely to receive plenty of homage and congratulations on his side of the political rift. In spite of everything – first and foremost the storm on the seat of Congress in Washington, the Capitol, on January 6th. But not even the outrage was enough for his party to drop him. Because Trump’s supporters, many of whom feel more indebted to him than to the Republicans, believe him to lie that he won the election last November. They believe the Capitol Tower wanted to prevent the “crime of the century”.
And so it will be a birthday between two chapters. The presidency is behind him, ahead of him is either a comeback – or a final retirement. Trump is openly toying with a new candidacy in 2024. At the same time, he is gathering supporters, giving public speeches again as he did recently in North Carolina, and fighting against his internal party opponents, Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Senator Mitt Romney.
Hope in Arizona
With the Republicans there are a few men and women who could take over the leadership after him – such as Senators Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse from Nebraska or Niki Haily, who was UN ambassador under Trump. But they and others do not dare to take cover as long as Trump leaves it open whether he wants to try again himself. He himself apparently believes that he may not need a new election to move back into the White House. So he is sitting in his property in Florida and forging new plans, which always involve canceling the election result after all. In private meetings, he is said to have said that he assumed that it could be in August.
His gaze is directed towards Arizona, where efforts are being made to have the votes of the largest constituency counted again. In Georgia, too, there is still a lawsuit, to which Trump, according to the always well-informed “New York Times” reporter Maggie Haberman, is hoping to return to the top of the state in two months. That should be his biggest birthday wish – but it won’t come to that either. In the weeks after the election, more than 60 lawsuits against the result failed, and nothing will change that.
As clear as Trump’s dominance of the Republicans is at the moment, his chances of a second term would be uncertain. He would be sure of his party’s nomination, but his chances of victory are poor – if not hopeless. Trump’s strength is also his weakness. He manages to convince millions and millions of voters of himself, but he repels even more. This is exactly what happened in the fall of 2020. Joe Biden also won the election because a majority of Americans wanted to get rid of Trump. This scenario was later repeated in the Georgia by-election. The Republicans also lost there because Trump mobilized more opponents than supporters. The various preliminary investigations against him and his company can further damage him politically, maybe even prevent a candidacy.
Many, but not all, Republicans are for Trump
Democrats and moderate Republicans alike hope that Trump’s glamor will simply fade over time. The fact that he is no longer present on social media and that he closed his blog again after a few weeks for lack of success is a problem for him. According to a poll by Reuters and Ipsos in mid-May, 61 percent of Republicans still believe that he was cheated out of winning the election. 53 percent consider him to be the real president. But as high as these values are, they show how divided the Republicans are.
In order to win an election, however, a candidate must have his own camp closed behind him and, if possible, still draw a few voters over from the other side. Plus, Trump continues to do poorly in the suburbs of cities, where elections have been decided for decades. The fact that he has practically no future program and is completely fixated on the past does not help him with pragmatic voters who also pay attention to content. This is not the only reason why US media such as “Politico” regularly quote Republicans who say behind closed doors that Trump should not run and make room for new heads.
The moment of truth will strike for Trump in the fall of 2022. Then the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate will be re-elected. The exciting question will be whether Trump’s opponents within his party can defend their seats – for example those ten MPs who, contrary to the party line, recognized the election result as correct after the Capitol storm at the beginning of January. You have been on Trump’s hit list ever since.
The even bigger question, however, is whether the Republicans, with Trump at the helm, will be able to win back the majority in the House of Representatives. If successful, he would be strengthened – in Washington some even speculate that Trump could let himself be elected into the house and then become its spokesman and thus inherit the current incumbent Nancy Pelosi. He would then have a prominent position again and could make the headlines. But even to Trump that sounds like an adventurous idea.
When the ex-president blows out the candles on the cake today, there is still more than hot air. Something else could come. This man has often been underestimated, the Trump Show continues for now.