Larry Hogan says early Trump 2024 announcement could hurt GOP this fall
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan believes that if former President Donald Trump were to announce a 2024 presidential bid before the midterm elections, it "would be a terrible mistake" for the GOP and could "upset the applecart" for the party's aspirations in the midterm elections this November.
Hogan, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, has been traveling across the presidential primary state of New Hampshire this week to promote his group's plan to combat inflation and hear from local business owners and trade workers.
In a phone interview on the road, Hogan argued that recent primaries where Trump's endorsed candidate has lost, such as the gubernatorial primaries in Georgia, Idaho, Ohio and Alabama, are proving his long-held theory that the former president's influence over the party has waned.
Those election results are building momentum for some Republicans, including Hogan, to consider a 2024 run for the White House.
"More and more people are encouraging me to consider it," Hogan said, adding that he isn't going to make a final decision on a presidential run until January 2023." "There's a diminishing number of folks that are wanting the former President Trump to run. There's a growing number of people that are looking for our kind of successful, bigger-tent politics."
Hogan said that part of the reason for his trip to talk about the economy in New Hampshire is that congressional Republicans haven't been focused enough on providing solutions to inflation.
His five-point plan proposes cutting government spending and adjusting tax rates for Social Security benefits and child tax credits and includes more energy-based policies, like a suspension of the federal gas tax and restarting work on the Keystone XL pipeline.
"Most politicians in Washington, both parties, just spend more time trying to win arguments on Twitter, rather than actually talking about or working on finding bipartisan solutions," Hogan said.
Hogan is testing his economic ideas on the road, with more than 20 events on Tuesday and Wednesday in New Hampshire. He's not alone in the field, though. There are a number of potential 2024 candidates who have been making trips to early presidential primary states this summer.
Former United Nations Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was in the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state of Iowa earlier this month for an event with Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton was also in Iowa last week. Last Friday, Trump held a rally promoting his favored candidates in the primary state of Nevada. He's holding another rally this Saturday in Arizona, another battleground state.
And Hogan's neighbor to the south, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, was the keynote speaker at the Nebraska GOP State convention this past Saturday in Lincoln, Neb., about 60 miles west of the Iowa border. Youngkin said on "Face the Nation" on Sunday that he's "humbled" to be considered as a candidate, but that is "not a decision that we have even begun to undertake."
When asked about the possibility that the Virginia governor might run in 2024, Hogan pointed to his own success as a Republican governor in a blue state. Hogan won re-election with 55.4% of the vote in 2018, running nearly 23% ahead of Trump in 2020.
"He's a terrific guy, has got business experience. But he's only been governor for five months. So, I'm not sure what he's going to be thinking about. He'd have to start campaigning next year and I don't know how the people of Virginia would feel about that," Hogan said about Youngkin.
But the growing question for the Republican party has been not if Trump will run, but when. Earlier this month, Trump had told allies and aides he could announce a 2024 presidential run as early as this summer.
A New York Times/Siena College poll released Tuesday showed Trump leading the potential field of 2024 Republican candidates with 49%, followed by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 25%. Hogan was not mentioned in the poll, and only 1% said they'd vote for "someone else."
DeSantis recently held a conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with several Republican governors and gubernatorial candidates that connected them with his donors and conservative media figures, according to a source close to one of the attendees.
Although Hogan doesn't think Trump will ultimately run again, an early announcement would turn off "huge swaths of voters" that the Republican Party needs to win elections this November.
"It sure could upset the applecart," Hogan said. "[During his term], we had the worst four years for electoral politics since the 1930s. We lost the White House, the Senate, the House– we can't repeat that again. I mean, he already lost to Joe Biden. That's hard to do."
Not surprisingly, Hogan concurred with a recent poll by the New York Times that shows a majority of voters don't want Biden to run for re-election.
"Donald Trump was the least popular president in American history until Joe Biden, and Joe Biden is breaking the records. There's a solid 60% of people in America who don't want either one of them to be nominees or the next president," Hogan said.
The visit adds to Hogan's recent campaign activities helping like-minded Republicans in 2022. Earlier in the trip, Hogan fundraised for Connecticut Republican Senate candidate Themis Klarides. He also did recent fundraisers for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Washington Rep. Jamie Herrera-Beutler, who both have primaries in August.
He said he's campaigning for candidates "who I believe are the kinds of people that will take the country in the direction that I want it to go and that are not drinking the Kool-Aid and can get beat in the general election."
Maryland's Republican gubernatorial primaries next Tuesday will serve as an electoral proxy war between Hogan and Trump. Hogan has backed former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, while Trump has backed Delegate Dan Cox, who has embraced his claims of a stolen election in 2020.
When asked about the primary, Hogan called out the Democratic Governors Association for "colluding with Trump to elect a crazy whack job who has no ability to win an election whatsoever."
The DGA appears to agree with Hogan's assessment of the weakness of the candidates Trump has endorsed. It has spent $1.2 million on ads, according to data from AdImpact, to boost Cox in the primary, highlighting Cox's more conservative stances and Trump's endorsement. The committee has pointed to polls with Cox leading Schulz and said they are "starting the general election early and wasting no time to hold him accountable."
In a statement Tuesday morning, Trump reiterated his support for Cox ahead of next Tuesday and called Hogan "one of the worst in the country."
He called Hogan's move during the pandemic to acquire COVID-19 tests from South Korea "cheating" and said he "governed more like a Democrat than a Republican… and locked everything up with really bad results. Dan Cox is a terrific guy with a beautiful family. He has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"
Fin Gomez contributed reporting.
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