In case President Donald Trump leaves the Oval Office this winter, most Republicans expect him to return for another round in 2024 and are prepared to support him when he does, according to recent polls.
However, chatter has begun to emerge over who might be the perfect GOP candidate if Trump refuses to run again.
According to famous syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, the better bet for the Republican Party would be to coalesce around someone “without [Trump’s] baggage.” At issue, Thomas opined this weekend in a column for Fox News, is Trump’s personality.
“There is still a remnant of old-fashioned values my grandparents’ generation embraced and tried to instill in their descendants. One was not to belittle, demean, talk down to, or call other people names,” he wrote.
“Trump has consistently ignored that advice. While a large number of Americans still support him and the number who voted for him far outpaced any other Republican presidential candidate, or incumbent president, it wasn’t enough. The reason can only be his personality.”
It’s not clear though whether Thomas has factored in the hateful opposition Trump has faced from the moment he announced his candidacy in 2015.
“Most Americans expect a certain amount of dignity emanating from one who temporarily holds our highest office. Could Trump have achieved all he has without the name-calling? I think so. At a minimum, he might have resurrected a quote from a man who knew plenty about enemies, all of them domestic,” Thomas continued.
“I have referenced Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address before, but it is worth remembering, even memorizing. At the dawn of the Civil War, Lincoln said: ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.’”
Thomas believes what’s needed for 2024 is someone with Trump’s policies but the congeniality of Bush and Romney.
“Republicans can continue to embrace Trump’s policies while getting behind someone without his baggage. Who might that be?” his column concluded.
“My view of the perfect candidate is Vice President Mike Pence, who has been loyal to the president without the name-calling, while preserving his own personality, dignity, Christian faith and kindness.”
But according to former RNC communications director Douglas Heye, Republicans will not accept another Bush/Romney figure if Trump enters the 2024 race.
“There’s no one who has a leg up on Trump if he wants to do it,” he said to Newsweek.
GOP strategist Ford O’Connell views things a bit differently.
“It all depends on whether Donald Trump runs, but obviously [Pence] has the support of social conservatives and fiscal conservatives — plus being the vice-president to Donald Trump for four years is a real bonus,” he said to The Hill.
He concluded, “He is a very strong candidate.”
Please note: This is Cal Thomas’ opinion and it’s not the opinion of our writers.