Republicans Warn Donald Trump’s Stormy Daniels Criminal Indictment Is His Biggest Campaign Asset
Two weeks before the 2016 Iowa caucus, Donald Trump claims that he can shoot someone on 5th Avenue of Manhattan in broad daylight and not losing a single supporter.
Eight years later, Trump became the first former president in US history to face criminal charges. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought the charges stemming from Accusing Trump of paying porn star Stormy Daniels kept quiet about their relationship before the 2016 election.
Potential offense is hardly the same as shooting someone on a busy street. But it marks uncharted territory in US politics — and the reaction to the news is proving the enduring truth beneath Trump’s infamous 2016 bragging.
Since Trump referred to his own indictment, Republican officials and agents have argued that the unprecedented situation will only empower Trump when he makes a decision. third bid in a row for the White House.
Trump’s base—where there are hold about a third of GOP voterssurvived two impeachments, a coup attempt and an attack on the Capitol, a lackluster 2022 midterm cycle and all the rest—going nowhere, they said.
“If Trump is indicted, it will only strengthen his position in the primaries,” one GOP strategist without a horse in the race told The Daily Beast. “We saw this with the impeachment and the Mar-a-Lago raid. Voters rallied around him when they believed he was being unfairly targeted by political opponents in the justice system.”
At a recent conservative conference in South Carolina, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tell a crowd that “the prosecutor in New York did more to get Donald Trump elected president than any man in America today.”
Even the former Vice President Mike Pencea likely 2024 adversary who gradually increased attacks on Trump after the January 6 uprising, recently argued that Daniels’ case was too frivolous to charge his former boss.
“The fact that the Manhattan DA thinks that prosecuting President Trump is his top priority, I think… just tells you everything you need to know about the far left in this country,” Pence told Jonathan Karl. of ABC.
On CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Pence’s former chief of staff Marc Short said what many Republicans have been worried about privately when it comes to Trump being prosecuted for something not in connection with his attempt to overthrow the 2020 election.
“I really think this could benefit the president in the short term, because it rallies Republicans around him, saying he’s once again the subject of a criminal prosecution. fair,” Short said, adding that Trump would use the Manhattan lawsuit to cast doubt on him. “much more serious” polls at the state and federal levels regarding 2020 and January 6.
“If he can create this concept it is all politically based,” continued Short, “I think that helps him politically, and certainly, that’s what he does. He’s trying to do it.”
From the Russia investigation to Trump’s first and second impeachment, Republicans of all backgrounds have long warned—or mocked—that efforts to hold the former president accountable will only make him stronger.
For example, in 2019, Graham cast doubt on Trump’s first impeachment by predicting it would only lead to his second term. Instead, Trump became the first president in 40 years after losing the election.
The problem for Republicans is that while a criminal case could make Trump more toxic to the broader electorate, it is Republican voters who have the power to make him a candidate. party’s president for the third consecutive election.
The real battleground for the 2024 primaries will be in an area increasingly contested between the MAGA bloc and the traditional Republican voter base.
As the main challenges facing Trump from figures like former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley—and potentially Florida Governor Ron DeSantis—make it clear that Republican primaries across the globe are sure to expect want to surpass Trump.
“What is not being talked about is that the Republicans want a generational change and a new approach,” said one veteran GOP strategist, particularly regarding the non-MAGA factions within the party. “They’re sick of Trump’s old and dramatic bags.”
A senior Republican primary state official said the Manhattan affair would be another nail in Trump’s coffin for the Republican voters he rejected in 2020 and 2022, but succeeded. Teflon Don’s achievements still give them pause.
“It seems like it should be a hit, but my gut tells me otherwise,” the veteran GOP presidential candidate told The Daily Beast.
While the indictment of a former president and current presidential candidate is historically significant, it happens over decades that GOP voters and a skepticism of the justice system returns to Waco. Trump’s allies have drumming Bragg carrying “weak people” against the former president despite seeing no evidence, as The New York Times recently explained.
The unprecedented indictment gave a chance to the top Trump replacement at the early stages of the primaries: DeSantis.
There are still concerns that the Florida governor – who has not officially launched his campaign – could take on that role. Given his past reluctance to criticize Trump on his legal issues, the longtime Republican strategist said they see a potential post-indictment deadline as an opportunity the DeSantis team will likely pass up.
For now, DeSantis has been cautious in reacting to news of the indictment, especially in the face of loud taunts and complaints from Trumpworld that he hasn’t adequately denounced Bragg’s efforts.
Speaking in public recently, DeSantis is largely underdog on the matter – although he did do a little digging on the former president.
“I don’t know what it would be like to pay a gag to a porn star to ensure silence in the face of some alleged incident,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Panama City between a sentence. The reply was mainly devoted to attacking Bragg about crimes in New York. York City. “I just, I can’t talk about it.”
The governor’s hesitation also creates an opportunity for others to insult Trump throughout the media, which DeSantis will not touch.
Haley ignored any form of attack by Trump, focusing her message on President Joe Biden’s dealings with China and Russia. New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu, another likely candidate who has been a staunch Trump critic, instead described the looming indictment as “build a lot of sympathy for the former president.”
And while DeSantis made sure to let the terms “ghost money” and “porn star” go into effect in his press conference, he focused his message on Bragg as a representative for Democrats’ criminal approach, throwing red meat at the establishment by calling him a “Soros-funded prosecutor.”
Legal proceedings in Manhattan can drag on for months or even years, meaning Trump’s GOP enemies will likely have to navigate the storyline for the duration of the primaries.
As one early Republican agent in the state put it, “a lot of us have been waiting for that shoe to drop for a long time.” Those who were waiting for the other shoe, they added, would never have come back to Trump in the first place.
When asked which potential candidate would benefit most from Trump’s indictment, the GOP’s second strategist didn’t offer any of the above.
“Who benefits from Kim Jong Trump’s indictment? America.”