Only one Republican senator has announced publicly that he will support former-President Trump’s 2024 reelection bid, a sign of the uphill battle Trump faces in his quest to win the Republican presidential nomination and a second term in the White House.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) told reporters this week that he will support Trump’s candidacy for president and praised his track record in the Oval Office.
The rest of the Senate GOP conference is holding back, skeptical he can win the 2024 presidential election or even beat Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the primary.
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), perhaps Trump’s closest ally in the Senate, hasn’t endorsed Trump’s candidacy, though he praised the former president’s campaign kickoff speech and says he will be “hard to beat.”
The vast majority of Senate Republicans are staying neutral for the time being, waiting to see who else jumps into the primary, whether Trump gets hit with a criminal indictment from the Justice Department after Friday’s appointment of a special counsel and how events play out before the 2024 Iowa caucuses.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), an outspoken critic of Trump, said almost the entire Senate Republican conference did not want him to announce his presidential campaign on Tuesday, fearing it would create a major distraction ahead of the Georgia Senate runoff.
“One senator in a meeting we had this week said, ‘How many in this room want to see President Trump announce he’s running for president today?’ Not one hand up,” Romney said, describing the scene at a closed-door Republican meeting on Tuesday.
A second Republican senator confirmed Romney’s anecdote.
“I think we’re going to be looking at the other people who may run,” Romney added.
“I’m one who believes we have a much stronger bench than bringing out the retired war horse that has lost three in a row,” he said, referring to the GOP’s loss of the House majority in 2018, the White House and Senate in 2020 and their failure to win back the Senate in 2022.
Romney called Trump the “900-lb gorilla when it comes to the Republican Party” after Trump lost the 2020 election to President Biden and predicted at the time he would maintain his grip on the GOP.
He says that’s no longer the case.
“Maybe he’s 400 lbs at this stage,” Romney quipped.
Even so, Trump remains a formidable political force, with a following among roughly 30 to 40 percent of Republican voters, GOP senators estimate.
“He has an avid following, just like anyone who has built as strong an organization as he has. Many people love him, want to see him succeed. I don’t think it’s the majority of the party, but it may be the plurality, and that’s what he’s counting on,” Romney said.
Tuberville, who was elected to the Senate in 2020 and enthusiastically embraced Trump’s attacks on Democrats, is the senator most bullish about Trump’s prospects.
“I might be his campaign manager,” Tuberville joked when asked about the lack of support for Trump among other GOP senators….