IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Trump’s Charlie Kirk problem is an obstacle for him and the GOP

The former president is facing a serious dilemma as conservatives call for him to break with Turning Point USA and the far-right organization’s leader.


Turning Point USA — the well-financed, far-right, Trump-loving group marketed as an organization for young conservatives — is creating quite the conundrum for the Republican Party.

The organization has become a kingmaker of sorts in the conservative movement, thanks to its leader, Charlie Kirk, and his connection to Donald Trump and other MAGA movement staples. The group competes with the Republican National Committee for donors, issues endorsements of candidates and releases letter grades for Republicans based on their conservatism. This arrangement seems to have suited Kirk well, considering that he has become a millionaire on the back of the TPUSA brand.

But, as I’ve written before, TPUSA’s efforts haven’t translated to election wins. And this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference has helped highlight the reasons why.

A viral video from CPAC shows TPUSA’s most vocal conspiracy theorist, Jack Posobiec, cheering what he views as the looming end of democracy in America.

“Welcome to the end of democracy,” he said. “We are here to overthrow it completely. We didn’t get all the way there on Jan. 6, but we will endeavor to get rid of it.”

This was a villainous, anti-democratic rant so perfectly succinct that it was bound to be shared widely online — and that’s exactly what happened, to Republicans’ detriment. (Be sure to watch Joy discussing the remarks on “The ReidOut” here.)

Just one day prior, Raynard Jackson, a Black writer known for his far-right views and pro-Trump servility, complained about Kirk during an event hosted by Steve Bannon. In a video posted by Media Matters, Jackson claimed that Kirk’s recent and widely publicized attacks on the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1964 Civil Rights Act have made it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win Black voters in November.

“To have one of our MAGA compatriots go on his podcast and call Martin Luther King a rapist, for a 30-year-old guy to sit up and tell me that the civil rights bill of ’64 was bad for America, that makes my job almost impossible,” he said.

He’s not wrong. Trump’s well-documented racist strategy was already going to be an obstacle for Republicans looking to earn Black votes. Kirk’s rants have made that heavy lift even less likely.

In fact, that was the focus of a recent NBC News report that described how people in Trump’s orbit have warned the former president about how Kirk’s attacks on King — and infighting he has encouraged within the Republican Party — stand to hurt the GOP’s electoral chances.

NBC reported that Donald Trump Jr. tried to kill the notion that his father and Kirk were at odds in any way, with the younger Trump saying in a statement:

Frankly, it’s sad that there are some people attempting to increase their own relevancy by manufacturing lies that Charlie is on the outs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Trump publicly dined with Kirk this week, so it seems safe to say that Junior was telling the truth here.

Having TPUSA still in the fold poses a dilemma for Trump and the party he leads. On the one hand, Kirk and other TPUSA leaders are extremists who can’t keep their mouths shut, and that’s bad for Republicans’ electoral chances.

On the other hand, that extremism has helped establish the MAGA brand as distinct from classic conservatism. And then there’s the fact that TPUSA, for all its electoral failings, certainly knows how to raise money. And that’s a skill that Trump, with hundreds of millions of dollars in legal judgments against him, needs more than ever.