Vance thanks Trump for his victory in Ohio 1:46 (CNN) — Current US politics is becoming a test for the MAGA (Make America Great Again) figure in the midterm elections, with o without former President Donald Trump. Sixteen months after leaving office, Trump is certainly still the figurehead of the red-cap “Make America Great Again” brigades, but the talented messengers running in this year’s midterm elections have sometimes been more effective at articulating that brand and where it’s going. Trump now faces a new test: not only can he lead the primary candidates he is endorsing to victory, but also whether he can maintain control of the movement he started, as some candidates he rejected are coining the MAGA label. anyway and those who are loyal to him reject the candidates he is choosing. The former president is sprinkling primary endorsements like spring flowers as he looks to flex his might ahead of a possible 2024 White House race. Rival GOP candidates are squabbling over who truly embodies the “America First” mantle, regardless of Who has the former president endorsed? And President Joe Biden, beset by high inflation and daily record-breaking gas prices, is trying to turn the election from a referendum on him to one on “MAGA King” Donald Trump’s democracy-threatening extremism. . Messages from Trump allies on storming the Capitol 6:40 The battle to define the next phase of the MAGA movement reflects the enormous role that the 45th president of the United States plays in politics, one that is especially extraordinary given that the former commander-in-chief, who was twice impeached, lost after a single term and left office in disgrace after attempting a coup. But even Republicans who admit he lost the 2020 election don’t see his legacy tarnished. And as the dominant figure in the GOP, he is turning what increasingly looks like a likely Republican majority in the House of Representatives next year into a political weapon by casting himself as a puppet master for the party’s top House leader, Kevin McCarthy. , Of California. On Thursday, the House Minority Leader was subpoenaed along with four other Republican lawmakers by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. The illegal measures that Trump wanted to impose and couldn’t 4:27 The new candidates running with the MAGA creed The former president has endorsed some winners in high-profile tests of his endorsements like the winners in the Ohio Senate race and the first matchup of the year between incumbent and incumbent House of Representatives, even as their candidate fell short in Nebraska’s gubernatorial primary. But those early congressional primaries and rumors of the 2024 presidential campaign are also raising a body of younger radical candidates reclaiming the MAGA creed, even without Trump’s endorsement, and raising the question of whether the movement Trump invented is starting to get out of his control. This is the most notable case in Pennsylvania, where Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette has become a major threat to Trump-backed Mehmet Oz and another major candidate, former hedge fund executive David McCormick. , who went from conventional Republican to Trump firebrand acolyte, even without the former president’s endorsement. And in Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has taken Trump’s tactics to the next level by enacting a MAGA-like agenda. While Trump’s campaign speeches focus on his complaints about the 2020 election, DeSantis has used the unbridled power of the governor’s office to pillory the “awakened” left and the press. He has focused on LGBTQ rights under the guise of “parental rights.” And he has built a national fan base and a gargantuan war chest by taking on liberals who he says are trying to erase America’s cultural heritage and traditional values. Meanwhile, some of Trump’s handpicked candidates, such as JD Vance, the new Republican Senate candidate from Ohio, have been able to frame the MAGA movement’s populist and nationalist goals more succinctly than the former president. At a Trump rally in Pennsylvania in support of Oz last week, for example, Vance drew an enthusiastic response from the crowd when he described the move as a struggle between “the people” and establishment Republicans, whom he said would send American jobs abroad and start “stupid wars we don’t have to fight. Vance, who was once a harsh critic of Trump and used his endorsement to secure the GOP’s approval, called the midterms a “war for the soul of the GOP.” And while Barnette, a conservative commentator who has touted her far-right credentials, has bluntly stated that “MAGA does not belong to President Trump,” hinting at the future of the movement beyond the former president. “Even though he coined the word, MAGA actually belongs to the people,” she said in a recent debate. “Our values have never, ever changed to the values of President Trump. It was President Trump who changed and aligned with our values.” Republican agents in Pennsylvania are scrambling to apprehend Barnette, believing she has gone uninvestigated, after a series of earlier inflammatory statements, and could hand Democrats a seat in the fall that could determine which party controls the US Senate. Trump, who hates being upstaged, is not taking kindly to Barnette’s raise, which could damage his kingmaker status if she triumphs over Oz in the Pennsylvania Senate primary next Tuesday. “Kathy Barnette can never win the general election against radical left Democrats,” Trump said in a statement Thursday. “She has a lot of things in her past that haven’t been properly explained or investigated,” she said, a comment that seemed a bit rich given the considerable scandals she overcame to become president. But, characteristically, Trump has left himself a way out and a possible avenue to build on his success if he wins, saying that if Barnette can clear up questions about her past, “she’s going to have a wonderful future in the Republican Party, and I’ll be behind her.” all the way”. Still, Trump ended his statement by reaffirming his support for Oz, whose fame and TV stardom appear to have been largely behind endorsing a candidate who Republican purists say is not a true conservative. “Dr. Oz is the only one who can easily defeat the Mad Democrat and the Pennsylvania Lunatic. A vote for anyone else in the primary is a vote against Victory in the Fall!” Trump wrote. Trump Can’t Order His Supporters What to Do While the former president’s endorsement was widely credited with setting Vance apart from the pack in Ohio, the idea that he just shouts orders and his supporters jump is a caricature. In Georgia, for example, Trump is wildly popular with Republicans, but his effort to replace Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who refused to join his election-stealing scheme, with handpicked candidate former Sen. David Perdue , seems to be failing. “People love Trump, but Kemp will win,” Josh Brown, a 39-year-old man from Rockmart, Georgia, said Thursday. Another voter, Jim Mayer, 65, of Rome, added: “Trump’s endorsement means a lot, but I’ve followed Kemp for a long time.” Audrey Burch, 55, also of Rome, is torn between Kemp and Perdue. She blames Kemp for not doing more to address Trump’s concerns about the 2020 election, but she regretted not seeing Perdue campaigning. “I hope he’s not planning to win just because he associates with Trump,” she said. Biden sees an opportunity in the rise of MAGA candidates The rise of MAGA candidates who are in some cases more extreme than Trump is raising the stakes for Democrats who may end up opposing them. Some voters who crowded into a bar in the southeastern Pennsylvania city of York on Thursday to see Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the leading candidate for the Democratic Senate nomination, are watching the Republican primary with alarm. But York resident Angela Stever predicted that a Radical Republican MAGA candidate would carry Democrats to the polls. “They’re loud, they make a lot of noise, but we come out when it matters. Democrats always come out when it matters,” she said. And after months in which Democrats have struggled to find a message, Biden has recently taken offense at casting the midterms as a choice between his agenda and what he now calls “ultra-MAGA” Republicans. He also warned of the potential human costs of Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s 11-point plan, which would require all Americans to pay some form of income tax and could create an opportunity for cuts to Social Security and Medicare by ending the programs. every five years. Although Scott’s plan has been rejected by many Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Biden asserted that the GOP “doesn’t want to solve inflation by cutting costs; they want to solve it by raising taxes and cutting revenues.” “. But there is no guarantee that running a fierce campaign against Trump will mitigate the expected Democratic losses when Trump is not on the ticket. Last November, Biden, former President Barack Obama and Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe tried to turn the Virginia gubernatorial race into a referendum on Trump. But Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin scored a narrow victory in a state Biden had won by 10 points the previous year by addressing parental concerns about education. That kind of model may not work everywhere, as Youngkin, whose corporate image played well in moderate Washington suburbs, was able to keep the former president at arm’s length. But it shows the risk Biden is taking by turning completely anti-MAGA so early. And the headwinds from Biden and the Democrats are so strong this year that the MAGA candidates may take office in a red wave. Such a scenario could transform the Senate GOP conference as older, more established Republicans walk out and younger, more extreme senators, surfing the anti-elite uprising sparked by Trump, replace them. That dynamic has already emerged in the House of Representatives, where McCarthy has long struggled to keep MAGA firebrands like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida at bay as they have been repeatedly distracted. of the Republican Party’s ability to push a message. But with Trump so involved in trying to pick winners and losers, the entirety of the primary season will cast a verdict not only on the power of the man, but also on the power of the movement and whether he controls the forces he unleashed. If there are any signs of weakness, increasingly prominent figures like DeSantis are circling, ready to swoop in and carry the MAGA flag at a moment’s notice. — Simone Pathé contributed to this report.
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