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Trump vows to stay in the 2024 race even if he's convicted

Trump's insistence that not even a criminal conviction would cause him to drop his latest bid for the White House is almost certain to give Republicans headaches.



That’s when former President Donald Trump said people can expect him to suspend his 2024 presidential campaign.

Right about now, I suspect Republican pollsters are pulling their hair out.

It’s not entirely surprising that Trump — who never publicly conceded his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden — is effectively doubling down on his eternal presidential bid. 

To fill you in: Trump sat down with Fox News host Tucker Carlson for an interview that aired Tuesday and said he intends to keep his White House bid going even if he’s convicted in his criminal case in New York City.

“No, I’d never drop out. It’s not my thing. I wouldn’t do it,” Trump said.

That’s likely welcome news to Trump’s most die-hard supporters, but more sober-minded Republicans — at least, those who think a candidate’s likability matters in an election — should be quite concerned about what this means for the GOP’s chances in 2024. 

Polls suggest Trump is the favorite among Republican voters heading into the 2024 primaries. But on top of his widespread unpopularity outside the GOP, polls also suggest that a majority of Americans think being criminally indicted should disqualify Trump from running for president again.

Would Republicans vote for him if he’s convicted? We can’t be certain (although I wouldn’t doubt it). But whether he stays in the race or not, and whether he’s convicted or not, Trump could discourage his supporters from casting ballots for any of his primary opponents and severely hamper Republicans’ chances of winning the White House. 

Trump’s vow appears to put Republicans in a lose-lose situation. Hitch your wagon to a flawed and failed candidate — potential convictions and all — or don’t back him, which could prompt backlash from Trump’s followers even if he were campaigning from inside a prison cafeteria. 

Trump’s never-say-die mentality as a political candidate is killing his party. 

Publicly and privately, Republicans have expressed concern about the party’s electoral chances with Trump on the ballot. Personally, I think these concerns distract from the fact many conservative policies not just Trump — are widely unpopular, but the comments are an acknowledgment of his political toxicity.  

For example, upon hearing Trump’s vow to stay in the 2024 race, I instantly thought about McKay Coppins’ report in The Atlantic earlier this year, in which he describes Republicans’ “magical thinking” that some outside force — whether an indictment or even natural death — will end Trump’s campaign. 

From The Atlantic

Press them hard enough, and most Republican officials—even the ones with MAGA hats in their closets and Mar-a-Lago selfies in their Twitter avatar—will privately admit that Donald Trump has become a problem. He’s presided over three abysmal election cycles since he took office, he is more unstable than ever, and yet he returned to the campaign trail this past weekend, declaring that he is “angry” and determined to win the GOP presidential nomination again in 2024. Aside from his most blinkered loyalists, virtually everyone in the party agrees: It’s time to move on from Trump.

The piece continues:

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?

The piece even quotes journalist Mark Leibovich’s book “Thank You for Your Servitude, in which a former Republican member of Congress is quoted as saying the party is “just waiting for Trump to die.” 

I won’t venture into speculation about Trump’s death date. But those quotes signify a desperation in the GOP — a longing for something to make Trump disappear from atop the Republican Party. 

An indictment hasn’t achieved that. And there’s credible cause for concern that a conviction won’t either.

Never forget the truest words Sen. Lindsey Graham has ever said.

“If we nominate Trump, we will get destroyed.......and we will deserve it,” the South Carolina Republican tweeted in May 2016.

Facts, Linds!