Jan 17, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's GOP revenge tour

Illustration of a red neck tie trapping an elephant.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The Trump campaign's new threat against House Freedom Caucus Chair Bob Good (R-Va.) confirms what many suspected: Anyone who endorsed a rival candidate before the Iowa caucuses is now a prime target for retribution.

Why it matters: The rush of Republicans who endorsed former President Trump in the weeks before his blowout win in Iowa on Monday clearly saw the writing on the wall, as the campaign is now signaling its intent to destroy Good over his early backing of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • "Bob Good won't be electable when we get done with him," Trump campaign manager Chris LaCivita told the southern Virginia-based Cardinal News.
  • It's the latest sign that loyalty — not ideology, given that Good is one of the most conservative Republicans in the House — is the organizing principle of Trumpism.

The big picture: Even with New Hampshire — widely viewed as the primary's definitive crossroads — still to come on Jan. 23, top Republicans are quickly closing ranks behind Trump.

Screenshot via Truth Social

Zoom in: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — who Trump warned last month "must be very careful" in his re-election efforts — may become a test case for how late is too late after he held off on endorsing Trump until Iowa.

  • "I believe this race is over," Cruz told Fox News last night, calling for the GOP to unite around a front-runner who once insulted his wife.
  • In private, Trump has trashed Cruz for holding out, according to the New York Times: "I could've destroyed him. I kind of did destroy him in 2016, if you think about it. But then I let him live."

What to watch: The viciousness of the primary has divided top DeSantis surrogates on whether to embrace Trump — assuming he wins the nomination — to avoid being blacklisted from GOP politics.

  • Steve Cortes, a former Trump official who joined the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down last year, wrote in a conciliatory op-ed Wednesday: "I believed that Republican voters were ready for a new post-Trump chapter of the America First movement. I now believe I was wrong."
  • Top DeSantis aide Christina Pushaw, on the other hand, tweeted in a lengthy statement: "Thanks everyone who has added my name to a 'hit list' of 'disloyal' conservatives so I won't get a job in the fantasy/hypothetical Trump Administration. I appreciate that because I'm not interested."
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