Donald Trump has an 88% approval rating among Republicans, a fund-raising machine that brought in $105 million in the past quarter alone, near-virtual control over the RNC, and, of course, the power of incumbency. But a growing number of Republicans, aware that Trump still remains widely unpopular have started to question whether all that matters.
There are, after all, moral issues at stake. “He’s a bully and he’s a coward. Somebody’s got to punch him in the face every single day,” former congressman Joe Walsh tells the Washington Post, nominating himself as a potential primary candidate. The goal, Walsh promises, is to start a “bar fight” with the president—and win.
A drunken, possibly doomed slugfest with Donald Trump may not be a preferred metaphor for the effort to depose the president, but it has a kind of poetry. And anyway, Walsh isn’t the only insurgent darling turned anti-Trump stalwart pondering a primary challenge.
There’s dark horse candidate Bill Weld, the former Massachusetts governor (and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee), who officially launched his campaign in April. Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford also indicated last week that he’s given it some thought. Now the Post reports that former Arizona senator Jeff Flake and former Ohio governor John Kasich may follow Walsh’s lead too.
The three men cited a “flurry” of calls and conversations with Republican power brokers suggesting that they jump in, and they’ve reportedly been visiting places like New Hampshire and Iowa to test the waters for a challenge. “It’s prudent to take a look at things,” Kasich’s 2016 presidential senior strategist, John Weaver, told the Post.
The likelihood that any of the above 2020 hopefuls could pose a real challenge to Trump is slim. Over the past several years, the Trump campaign has been working overtime with the RNC to make it difficult for a challenger to gain traction with delegates, placing loyalists in state parties and changing nomination rules. “Anybody who says, ‘I think I can beat Donald Trump,’ I think is stretching it,” Sanford acknowledged. “It’s a daunting task and it is indeed preposterous at many different levels.”
The article continues here, in Vanity Fair :