Senate Republicans are backing Senator Mitt Romney’s (R-Utah) call for Republican donors to stop funding Donald Trump because it’s evident that he “can’t win” in the general election.
The GOP lawmakers doubt former President Trump’s ability to defeat President Biden in the upcoming general election and are concerned that these long-shot candidates will stay in the race for too long, diverting support away from more viable contenders. They argue that the party needs to start narrowing down the field earlier than it did in 2016 to ensure that the most electable nominee progresses to the general election.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) supports Romney’s recommendation, telling reporters that he didn’t think Trump could win the general election, adding “what’s the most important thing for me is that we have a candidate who can actually win.”
Similarly, Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), representing the state hosting the first 2024 primary contest, advocates focusing on the general election and ensuring strong and prepared candidates.
“If people can start coalescing and getting the right candidate into place, that would be very helpful,” she said, according to The Hill.
Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who endorses North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s (R) presidential bid, worries about fielding a competitive candidate in the general election due to Trump’s polarizing effect on voters. Cramer believes that endorsing someone who cannot win would be futile and suggests looking beyond Trump to tap into the talent of all Americans.
Asked if Trump would be the strongest candidate in the general election, Cramer said “as a primary voter, personally, I prefer picking somebody who I agree with and can win.”
“At the end of the day, there’s no point endorsing somebody who can’t win,” he said. “I wish we just move on to something normal and tap into the talent of 340 million Americans and see what else we can come up with.”
Romney contends that anti-Trump voters and donors waited too long in 2016 to unite behind a single alternative candidate, which allowed Trump to secure the nomination easily. He urges Republican donors to take action and convince the weaker candidates to withdraw if they fail to gain momentum after the early primary contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.
Nonpartisan pollsters confirm that the main challenge facing Republican rivals in defeating Trump in the primary is the splitting of the anti-Trump vote among multiple candidates. Trump currently leads the Republican field by a significant margin in national polls, making it tough for any single candidate to attract enough undecided voters to defeat him.
Romney insists that GOP donors need to push weak candidates out of the race if they fail to gain traction by February 26, shortly before Super Tuesday, to prevent Trump from amassing an overwhelming delegate lead.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) suggests that those wanting an anti-Trump candidate must rally behind a viable contender early on to have a real chance at defeating Trump in the primaries.