Former President Donald Trump’s potential Republican challengers for the 2024 presidential nomination are unwilling to attack him directly — and Republican insiders longing for an alternative to the former president are increasingly frustrated over it, reported The Atlantic on Monday.
“Aside from his most blinkered loyalists, virtually everyone in the party agrees: It’s time to move on from Trump,” wrote McKay Coppins. “But ask them how they plan to do that, and the discussion quickly veers into the realm of hopeful hypotheticals. Maybe he’ll get indicted and his legal problems will overwhelm him. Maybe he’ll flame out early in the primaries, or just get bored with politics and wander away. Maybe the situation will resolve itself naturally: He’s old, after all — how many years can he have left?”
According to the report, some key Republicans are enraged about this state of affairs, worried that the timidity, and the “magical thinking” that Trump will simply collapse on his own, or even die in the next year, will allow Trump to simply coast to renomination and cost the party another election.
“You have a lot of folks who are just wishing for [Trump’s] mortal demise,” said former Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), who was one of the ten House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump over the January 6 insurrection and was ousted in his primary the next year. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who will go onstage and put on the red hat, and then give me a call the next day and say, ‘I can’t wait until this guy dies.’ And it’s like, Good Lord.”
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Former Marco Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan put it more bluntly in his discussion with Coppins: “There is an old quote that has been attributed to Lee Atwater: ‘When your enemy is in the process of drowning, throw him a brick.’ None of Donald Trump’s opponents ever have the balls to throw him a damn brick. They just hope someone else will. Hope isn’t a winning strategy.”
A number of Republicans have either been rumored to have presidential ambitions, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, or have publicly expressed them, like former South Carolina Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
However, few of them have directly attacked Trump. On the other hand, Trump has lashed out at what he perceives to be his greatest threats, trashing DeSantis in particular as a “globalist” and using the nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious.”