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Feb 04, 2022
If for some reason you’ve decided to seek out and watch former President Donald Trump’s rallies in 2022, be aware that it’s just the same old, same old. At his first rally of the new year, in Arizona, Trump whined about the stolen election that wasn’t, insulted Democrats, claimed they’re destroying the nation one “woke” bill at a time, and also took shots at Republicans he has deemed to be unloyal. (We’re looking at you, Mitch McConnell.) So in that regard, a Trump rally seems to be just a “Greatest Hits” of grievances.
Something is different, however, and that is the underlying strategy to what’s happening. I know most people don’t see strategy as part of Donald Trump’s arsenal, but it seems clear to me he’s using these rallies for a couple of reasons, all with one singular goal: To help Trump in 2024 if he, as many believe he will, runs for president again.
First, he’s using it to attack those enemies he views within his own party who have not bent the knee to him, or have just flat-out gone against him, like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. By boosting primary opponents for these “RINO” Republicans, as Trump calls them, the former president is aiming to make himself the kingmaker of the party he already controls with an iron fist. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may be close to joining this list, too.
He views getting Trump supporters in office as a way to shore up his chances of winning if he runs for president again in 2024. This is of paramount importance to him, of course, because nothing matters more to Trump than Trump. This is why one of his stated goals for this year should frighten anyone who doesn’t want to see him back in the Oval Office.
Donald Trump openly said recently that one of his priorities in 2022 is to support Republican supervisors of elections. And he quoted, it’s never really clear who Trump is quoting, but Trump references that someone once said, what matters isn’t who votes, but who counts the votes. Joseph Stalin said that in 1923. I don’t know if Trump’s quoting Stalin, but it’s a very authoritarian, fascistic idea. Trump wants to get more Republican supervisors of elections because, as he says, “we wanna have the right people counting the votes.” And what that means is, instead of in Georgia in 2020, having Brad Raffensperger, a Republican secretary of state who wasn’t willing to find the 11,000 votes Trump needed to win, Trump wants to have people involved in elections at the state level that will help him get the votes he needs to win.
As I said, Trump’s rallies are going to follow the same tired script we’ve heard since 2016. But beneath all the noise and petty threats and insults lies a message that should scare Democrats. And we would be foolish not to listen.
This month, the 2022 midterm election season officially started. And I mean by that, uh, that Donald Trump has restarted rallies and the rallies are now focused at least ostensibly on supporting 2022 candidates like he did on January 15th in Florence, Arizona.
There are a few different reasons why Donald Trump is doing this and we’re going to talk about them. And some of them have to do with 2022. Some of them have to do with 2024. What has not changed is the content of Donald Trump’s rallies. The content was mostly attacking primarily Democrats, as well as some Republicans like Mitch McConnell. That’s a mainstay now of the Trump rally, uh, claiming that he won the 2020 presidential election, which he did not, saying that we are very close, very close to evidence coming out that will flip states from 2020. That is not going to happen. Uh, and positioning himself as the king maker for 2022.
Now, what is the bigger picture here of what’s going on? We expect that this 2022 midterm season is going to start earlier than ever. And it already has in the sense that Trump is already doing 2022 rallies. Often interest builds in midterm elections in June, July. Early would be considered like, MAY. We thought maybe it would be like April in 2022, but it’s already off and running. Donald Trump already doing a rally and having more scheduled. And there are two goals that Donald Trump has in terms of 2022.
Maybe three, but they’re kind of related goal. Number one for Donald Trump is his best path to leave 2024 open to him as the nominee is successfully playing kingmaker in 2022. Do the people Trump endorses win? And if he is visibly supporting them and they win, it gives him clout for 2024. That’s number one. And that’s one reason why he is getting involved.
Number two, Donald Trump openly said recently that one of his priorities in 2022 is to support Republican supervisors of elections. And he quoted, it’s never really clear who Trump is quoting, but Trump references that someone once said, what matters isn’t who votes, but who counts the votes? Joseph Stalin said that in 1923. I don’t know if Trump’s quoting Stalin, but it’s a very authoritarian, fascistic idea. Trump wants to get more Republican supervisors of elections because as he says, “we wanna have the right people counting the votes.” And what that means is, instead of in Georgia in 2020, having Brad Rothensberger, a Republican secretary of state who wasnt willing to find the 11,000 votes Trump needed to win. Trump wants to have people involved in elections at the state level that will help him get the votes he needs to win. So if he gets them elected in 2022, when he runs in 2024, these 11,000 votes shy somewhere, maybe a supervisor of elections and-or a governor that is friendly to Trump can actually do something to steal a state for him.
And then number three is that Trump is not just campaigning for 2022. He’s also campaigning for 2024. And increasingly there’s a conflict with Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis. This is a building internal Republican conflict. Back at the start of the pandemic, you might remember, Ron DeSantis was one of the most lax governors when it came to COVID safety. Before anybody else started doing live in person events, DeSantis said “WWE wrestling come to Florida” or Florida, whatever. Ron Desantis said, UFC, come to Florida and do your fights. Trump was praising DeSantis. There was an alliance about how great DeSantis was in DeSantis saying how great Trump was. What has triggered Trump now has been when Ron DeSantis has asked about 2024, he doesn’t rule it out. And Trump believes and Roger Stone believes and has said, the loyal thing I believe loyal was the word, uh, stone used.
The loyalty oath would be to say, if Trump runs, I’m not running against him. If he doesn’t, that’s a different story and DeSantis, hasn’t done that. And this has led now the Donald Trump criticizing Ron DeSantis, reportedly irate with him in private, as per Maggie Haberman’s reporting for the New York Times. And conversely DeSantis has also started to back away from Trump saying things like maybe I shouldn’t have deferred to Trump as much early in the pandemic and done what he wanted. I should have done even more freedom in Florida as an example. So that is very much on the mind of Donald Trump, because he is reportedly furious privately with DeSantis for not being more deferential to Trump in terms of 2024. Normally I have this, it’s not a rule, but it’s just when people call in and they ask me about a presidential election, when we have a midterm first, I say, let’s get through the midterm before we talk about the next one.
It’s essentially impossible to do that this election cycle, because so much of what’s happening now is already about 2024. And these are really tandem elections in a strong sense of the word. So I’m going to continue following the Trump rallies to see if there is a change in tone or messaging. So far there has not been. And we’re also going to look very closely at what is the Republican party’s perspective on Trump’s involvement for ‘24. There was this vague idea at one point that in ‘22, the Republican party would say no to Trumpism to take back control, to set themselves up for a non-Trump nominee in ‘24. It’s not clear to me that they’re going to be able to do that. It’s not clear to me that they’re determined to do it, but it’s not clear they would even be able.
So all of this we’re going to watch closely, but officially at this time, the 2022 midterms are, are happening now. And Donald Trump’s rallies are just one early indicator of that.
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