Monday, March 22, 2021


This doesn't seem the Donald Trump we all know and loathe.
Former President Donald Trump didn't include his former vice president in his list of "very good" Republican leaders and potential 2024 presidential candidates during a new interview with conservative commentator Lisa Boothe.

Instead, Trump named Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

"Ron DeSantis is doing a really good job in Florida," he said. "I think Josh Hawley has shown some real courage in going after big tech ... Somebody that's been really terrific is Ted Cruz."

He added, "Rand Paul has been great ... Sarah Huckabee is going to do great in Arkansas. I think that Kristi Noem has done a terrific job ... The Republican Party is stacked."
I'm not talking about the snub of Mike Pence -- of course Trump didn't include Pence among the party's stars. I'm talking about the fact that Trump mentioned several of these people as possible 2024 Republican presidential candidates. Peak-period Trump would never have done that. He would have insisted that only person has a shot at the nomination, and he's the one.

To be clear, he didn't praise these people in response to a question about 2024. Boothe's question was "Who are the people right now that you think are part of the future of the Republican Party -- like, those people that, you know, you're supportive of, that you just really like and you think are doing going things?"

However, Boothe's follow-up question was: "If you don't end up running in 2024, which I know a lot of people want you to, we all want you to -- you know, if it's not you, who is it?" To which Trump responded: "So, some of the names I guess I just mentioned, perhaps, and others, and others. I mean, there's a pretty deep bench. I'll make that decision sometime later."

This is not the same Trump who ran for president twice. It's not even the Trump who desperately fought to steal the election. This Trump is asked about not being the alpha male in his party anymore and he's cool with that. Until recently, he would have been mortally offended if he'd even been asked a question like that.

His response to the "future of the Republican Party" question begins, "Well, I think we have a lot of people, a lot of young, good people." Young? Obviously, DeSantis and Cruz and Hawley and the rest are much younger than Trump -- but I can't imagine the pre-January 20 Trump conceding that potential rivals are fresher, younger faces than he is.

Prior to these questions, Trump seems energized by the notion of campaigning for loyalists -- and especially campaigning against critics -- in 2022. But running again in 2024? His heart's not in it.

It might have dawned on him that retirement is not that bad -- that the shame of losing is bearable and that being out of office doesn't mean an instant trip to police custody.

So even though the nomination is his for the asking, I don't see him running again.

No comments: