Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to threaten a Republican election boycott, sparking outrage on the right and celebration on the left.
Can the GOP survive Trump’s campaign of vengeance?
Trump said in a statement that “Republicans will not be voting” in the 2022 or 2024 election if “we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020.”
- The GOP has increasingly fallen in line behind the allegations, even as some in the party have worried about depressed Republican turnout as a result.
On the right: National Review editor Rich Lowry, like other prominent conservatives on Twitter Wednesday, responded to Trump’s latest statement with dismay, warning of a repeat of the 2021 Georgia Senate runoffs, which unexpectedly gave Democrats control of the chamber.
Trump allies in the media came out against the former president, too.
- Radio host Jesse Kelly conceded Democratic “Election fraud is a BIG deal” and must be stopped,” but added: “The most popular Republican in America telling his supporters their vote doesn’t matter is the dumbest, most suicidal thing I’ve ever seen.”
On the left: Many Trump critics, including podcaster Brian Tyler Cohen, celebrated Trump’s statement as an electoral boon to the Democrats.
Still, others voiced Jan. 6-style fears of a Republican coup.
- “What worries me is Republicans refusing to vote AND still insisting on maintaining power,” said progressive activist Zack Ford.
Trump spokeswoman Liz Harrington later clarified that Trump wasn’t telling Republicans not to vote, but rather predicting they wouldn’t turn out barring a reckoning over 2020.
Republican politicians, meanwhile, mostly kept quiet — whether out of loyalty or fear.
- “[Trump] is saying something most Republicans in positions of authority in congressional and Senate committees would like him not to be saying,” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN Thursday.
- “But … they are not saying publicly he’s got to stop doing this. They are averting their gazes and hoping it goes away and hoping not to amplify it.”