Feb 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's last step toward a total MAGA Republican party

Former US President Donald Trump, center, and Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, right, during an election night watch party at the South Carolina State Fairgrounds in Columbia, South Carolina, US, on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024.

Former President Trump, center, during an election night watch party in Columbia, S.C., on Feb. 24. Photo: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Trumpification of the Republican Party is now complete.

Why it matters: Come November, every powerful GOP leader will have been picked by Trump or spent the election cycle publicly kissing the ring.

Driving the news: After a brief break in Trump's reign after the 2020 election, the chips are once again falling in favor of the former president as he inches closer to the GOP presidential nomination.

  • Mitch McConnell was the last domino to fall. His decision to step aside as Senate GOP leader in November sets the stage for a Trump-approved successor.
  • The three likeliest GOP successors — GOP Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John Thune (R-S.D.) — have already endorsed Trump.
  • "I think it'll be great, because I think Trump will win, we have a leader who can work well with the next Republican president," said Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), a Trump ally, after McConnell's announcement.

Zoom in: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is Trump-approved and endorsed Trump almost immediately after taking the speaker gavel in October.

  • The Republican National Committee is poised to be taken over by Trump loyalists he hand-picked, including his daughter-in-law Lara Trump and top campaign official Chris LaCivita.

State of play: Trump won almost 70% of the vote in the key swing state of Michigan on Tuesday night, following his dominant victory in Haley's home state of South Carolina on Saturday.

  • He's dominated every early GOP primary contest.
  • Most of Trump's onetime presidential rivals have also fallen behind him as they battle for the coveted running mate position — and prove that they are the most loyal.

The bottom line: Two of Trump's savviest GOP critics laid out the new reality in the last 24 hours.

  • Haley conceded yesterday that it's "very possible" that the party is changing toward the former president.
  • In a Senate speech today, McConnell said he knows "the politics within my party at this particular moment in time."
  • "I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them," McConnell said.

Go deeper: McConnell replacement race kicks off earlier than expected

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