Irish Examiner view: Trump chances

US general election
Irish Examiner view: Trump chances

Some Republican insiders reckon Trump’s bid to be re-elected is already in trouble because of the sheer toxicity of the man. Picture: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

As Donald Trump belatedly took to the campaign trail at the weekend with untypically low-key rallies in the early voting states of New Hampshire and South Carolina, he was already looking over his shoulder at a slew of potential rivals for the Republican presidential candidate nomination.

The fearsome grip Trump once had on the GOP has slipped — alarmingly, in his view, but unsurprisingly in the minds of many others — in recent times to the point that emboldened potential candidates are lining up to take him on in what, just a short time ago, would have seemed like sure-fire political suicide.

Amid reports that Florida governor Ron DeSantis has already been scouting for campaign hires in both Iowa and New Hampshire, whose traditionally early slots in the nomination contest give them a big influence on the eventual outcome, Trump has acted predictably by going on the attack, accusing DeSantis of disloyalty and even hinting at political blackmail.

But, although DeSantis is the early leader among those looking to dethrone Trump, many others are now feeling cocky about running, including several former members of his cabinet. His former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is one; and former national security adviser, John Bolton, is another.

Former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has not ruled himself out either and younger Republicans with an excellent electoral record such as Georgia governor Brian Kemp and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin are also expected to run.

Some Republican insiders reckon Trump’s bid to be re-elected is already in trouble because of the sheer toxicity of the man, while others reckon his initial appeal to voters has long since lost its sheen thanks to his part in the January 6 riots and the many other scandals and general chaos that marked his time in office.

Bad reviews about the low-energy start to Trump’s campaign and his disastrous interventions in swing states in the recent mid-term elections have also dimmed enthusiasm for the former White House incumbent, with some party members deeming him to be un-electable.

For DeSantis and the other aspirants to the Republican nomination, it will be worth their while remembering the ruthless filleting of record and character that Trump applied to previous rivals, like former Florida governor Jeb “Clueless” Bush or Texas senator “Lyin’” Ted Cruz.

There is solace for his opponents, however, in that the man they are aiming to take down is seemingly more worried about them now than ever before.

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