By STEVE PEOPLES
In Connecticut, the state that launched the Bush family and its brand of compassionate conservatism, a fiery Senate contender who promoted Trump’s election lies upset the state GOP’s endorsed candidate. Meanwhile in Washington, Republicans ranging from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene defended Trump against an unprecedented FBI search.
And that was just this week.
The rapid developments crystalized the former president’s singular status atop a party he has spent the past seven years breaking down and rebuilding in his image. Facing mounting legal vulnerabilities and considering another presidential run, he needs support from the party to maintain his political career. But, whether they like it or not, many in the party also need Trump, whose endorsement has proven crucial for those seeking to advance to the November ballot.
“For a pretty good stretch, it felt like the Trump movement was losing more ground than it was gaining,” said Georgia Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who is urging his party to move past Trump. But now, he said, Trump is benefiting from “an incredibly swift tail wind.”
The Republican response to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida estate this week was an especially stark example of how the party is keeping Trump nearby. Some of the Republicans considering challenges to Trump in a 2024 presidential primary, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, were among those defending him. Even long-established Trump critics like Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan questioned the search, pressing for details about its circumstances.