An old campaign adage argued that political endorsements often aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, and until President Donald J. Trump, they were right. Now the most important political asset any Republican candidate could earn is the Trump endorsement, and how he’s using it will continue to reshape the Republican Party and freeze the 2024 field.
We have all watched as past Republican presidents fade into obscurity after departing the Oval Office. In most cases, their departures from D.C. marked the conclusion of their political ambition after weathering the arrows of the White House press corps. In each case, except for Ronald Reagan, their endorsements are seldom sought and matter little.
Just think of the irony, as George P. Bush actively worked to earn President Trump’s endorsement for Texas attorney general. George P., son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, stayed very close to President Trump in his public comments, and came to realize that his family connection and own accomplishments as the current Texas land commissioner weren’t enough in the era of Trump. While Trump ultimately backed incumbent AG Ken Paxton (pictured, at left) for reelection, it illustrated that in today’s Republican Party, there is only one lane: the Trump lane.
That’s why it came as little surprise when news broke late Thursday night that Congressman Anthony Gonzalez — one of the 10 GOP House members who voted to impeach President Trump — announced he would not seek reelection. He was being beaten badly in the polls by Max Miller, his Trump-endorsed challenger, and he recognized there was no viable path to victory.
President Trump’s success and influence continues to defy the political norms of the corrupt political class and, in doing so, he has established an unprecedented level of political influence.
So far in 2021, President Trump’s endorsement record in Republican elections is 10-0. Six of those victories were in competitive elections to lead the national and state Republican parties.
Another victory came in the Republican primary to lead Staten Island, N.Y., as borough president. Less than 72 hours before polls closed, President Trump endorsed Vito Fossella, a former congressman, who was running against a formidable opponent, the minority leader of the New York City Council. The minority leader campaigned with every major endorsement in Staten Island: the local Republican Party, the police and trade unions, municipal politicians. But, on the Saturday before the Tuesday election, President Trump endorsed Vito Fossella — and Vito won.
In 2020, 120 of the 122 candidates President Trump endorsed in congressional primary elections won, and the two who didn’t, lost to candidates who successfully ran campaigns by arguing they were more “Trump” than their opponents. Moreover, their opponents failed to properly educate voters of their Trump endorsement.
In the 2020 Senate primaries, President Trump was undefeated: 21-0.
During his own reelection campaign, President Trump extensively campaigned for the entire Republican ticket, leading over 50 “tele-rallies” and audio endorsements for congressional candidates and issuing hundreds of endorsements for candidates up and down GOP tickets — not to mention all the rallies that provided a platform to candidates to be in front of mega crowds that only President Trump can attract.
President Trump’s success in crucial swing states like North Carolina and Iowa led to the victories for Sens. Thom Tillis and Joni Ernst. In the House, political pundits predicted Republicans would lose 15, 20, or 30 seats. Instead, House Republicans won 26 of 26 “tossup” races. And, for the first time in decades, zero House incumbents lost — many of whom campaigned with the endorsement of President Trump.
It also should be noted that it is not just the fact that President Trump can pick candidates out of obscurity and sweep them into office. He has shown an ability and willingness to encourage party unity — even when dealing with prominent Republicans who were not behind him in 2016. Sens. Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell could have been extremely vulnerable if Trump had not come forward and endorsed them. President Trump did not want to divert time and resources in red states, so he made the extra effort to try and unify the party.
Sadly, as we saw in too many cases, that establishment Republicans and RINOs, who lobbied hard for a Trump endorsement, eventually put their political standing in D.C. ahead of the MAGA movement and the conservative policies that activists have been working toward for decades.
This cycle, senators, governors, congressmen, and even billionaires and titans of industry have flocked to the president’s Bedminster and Palm Beach properties, asking for his support and raising money. Ask any donor in the country: Those are the fundraisers they want to attend — even if the president is not in attendance.
In Ohio and Arizona, where Senate candidates J.D. Vance and Blake Masters are backed by super PACs with over $10 million, they both are still aggressively positioning for the Trump endorsement. They rightfully recognize all the money in the world can’t overcome the political power of President Donald J. Trump and the MAGA movement. In fact, in the Trump era, campaign war chests are not as important as being seen as central to America First.
However, the power and demand for the Trump endorsement is not the only sign that affirms President Trump’s political power. He also maintains a unique ability to weave his political influence together with the fact that he earned great respect for his policies and overall record as our president.
On Sept. 11, while politicians assembled at Ground Zero at a heavily restricted ceremony with throngs of media in tow, President Donald J. Trump honored the day by visiting a firehouse and police precinct. He delivered two beautiful speeches and answered questions directly from the firefighters and police officers in attendance.
It wasn’t glitzy, he didn’t send out a media advisory or set up a big production, but instead he engaged directly with those who came together to honor the sacrifice of their loved ones who were lost on Sept. 11, 2001. The viral moments that were captured embodied Donald J. Trump the New Yorker — a real man who loves his city and the people who wake up every day to keep it safe. This was quintessential Donald Trump.
President Donald J. Trump is not just the 45th president of the United States and he is not just the leader of the Republican Party. He continues to embody everything that makes America great, and that’s why he remains the most powerful force in American politics — and it’s why if he decides to run in 2024, he stands to make history by winning again.