Trump Allies Try to Rig the 2020 GOP Nomination

January 3, 2019
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Yesterday’s op-ed by Mitt Romney expressing doubts about the character and competence of President Donald Trump was striking. Just as striking was the response of Trump’s allies.

Trump supporters on the Republican National Committee jumped to argue for changing party rules to aid Trump’s renomination prospects in 2020. In particular, Jevon Williams, national committeeman from the Virgin Islands, urged other members of the RNC to act at their upcoming winter meeting to make it harder for a challenger to Trump to have his name placed in nomination at the convention and called on the committee to pass a resolution endorsing Trump and declaring him “the presumptive nominee in 2020.”

So a prominent Republican criticizes Trump, and Trump’s allies don’t try to counter the arguments or make a positive case for the president. Instead, their first reaction is to try to rig the system to protect the president. This reveals a number of things: (1) The knee-jerk, dime-store authoritarianism of the Trump forces; (2) The degree of panic which has already set in among the Trumpists; and (3) Evidence that beneath the superficially strong approval numbers there is bubbling up discontent—even dread—at the prospect of renominating Trump in 2020.

The Trump forces seem to be moving quickly for an early showdown at the winter meeting of the RNC, which takes place in just three weeks. Will other Republicans acquiesce in this blatant effort by Trump’s allies to deprive Republican voters of their ability to make their feelings about Trump heard at the ballot box? After all, if Trump were truly popular and Republican voters were truly enthusiastic about his leadership, then there would be no market for a challenger and nothing to fear from a primary.

Trump has often complained about a rigged system. Now his retainers are trying to rig the Republican primary system.

William Kristol

William Kristol, editor-at-large of The Bulwark, is chair of the new Project for the Republican Future.