Whatever the outcome of the Nov. 3 election, the Republican Party will be the setting for a confrontation between pro-Trump and anti-Trump supporters. At the Republican National Convention, several personalities attempted to portray themselves as successors to the current occupant of the White House.
Watching the Republican National Convention, the post-Trump era still seems a distant prospect. Yet some prominent party members are already thinking hard about it. The RNC in Charlotte was the backdrop for potential Trump successors to present their political positions. The idea is to set a course for 2024, or maybe even secure the leadership of the GOP in a few months, if Donald Trump is defeated on Nov. 3.
Several faces seemed to emerge at the Convention. Nikki Haley, for instance. The former American ambassador to the U.N. embodies a degree of continuity with Trump, but with a very different style. AS the daughter of Indian immigrants, she represents the American dream. Her first exchanges with the American president were tense, but she has always been loyal, and defended his ideas tooth and nail in speeches at the U.N. At the RNC, she actually set herself up as an heir to Trumpism, whose values would be called on to survive after the president leaves.
In its quest for unusual profiles, the Republican Party could also turn to Tim Scott, a congressman from South Carolina and the only Black senator in the GOP, who drew people’s attention on Monday with his speech at the convention. He defended Trump’s record in the fight against discrimination, and argued that the United States was not a racist country. “We live in a world that only wants you to believe in the bad news … racially, economically and culturally-polarizing news. The truth is, our nation’s arc always bends back towards fairness. We are not fully where we want to be … but thank God we are not where we used to be!”
Like Mike Pence, who, as vice president, is a natural candidate for the presidency, Mike Pompeo has worked to raise his presidential profile. On the front line dealing with international hot-button issues, the U.S. secretary of state has also learned to adjust to Trumpism with his own personal touch. He spoke at the RNC in a message recorded from Jerusalem, breaking the tradition of restraint that generally applies to diplomats.
Pompeo supported the “America First” doctrine that has applied to international relations since Trump arrived at the White House, toughness on China, sanctions against Iran and the defense of Israel. Other faithful Trump followers, such as Florida Gov. Ron De Santis, might be tempted by a sense of national destiny. And some imagine Trump’s children, Eric, Donald Jr. and especially Ivanka, becoming more involved in politics and starting an emergent dynasty.
There remains the possibility that the Republican Party could break with Trumpism. A growing fringe of the GOP has distanced itself from the policies of the White House, such as former presidential candidates Mitt Romney and John Kasich. Still others have not officially broken ties but are not unconditional supporters either, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The hardest thing for Republicans to do will be to reconcile all these factions.
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