by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump’s antagonists inside the Republican Party now have a fallback plan to scuttle his re-election: using the 2020 primary fight as a bludgeon to inflict irreparable political damage on him in the November general election.
The “Never Trump” movement’s preferred strategy is to recruit a formidable Republican who might block the president’s renomination, or at least mount an aggressive challenge that presses him all the way to the convention in Charlotte set for late summer next year. Efforts are underway to woo Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland and other top Republicans uneasy with Trump.
Short of that, key renegade Republicans are preparing to settle for Plan B: mortally wound him.
“The example of Pat Buchanan is certainly in the minds of many of us of a certain age; impossible to win, eminently possible to wound,” Rick Wilson, a Republican consultant and leading Trump foe, told the Washington Examiner. …
… For Republicans committed to dislodging Trump at all costs, wounding him in a primary would be adequate. No president challenged for renomination in the modern era has won a second term.
“For a number of people I’ve spoken to, putting a torpedo into Trump’s operation would suffice for them — if they could mortally wound him in a primary,” said a Republican insider involved in the effort.
Outright defeating a sitting president in a primary is nearly impossible, and Trump’s intraparty opponents are realistic about their prospects.