Trump Shepherds His MAGA Flock From Purity To Maturity

By Dick Morris on March 1, 2024

President Trump has accomplished a revolution of which few leaders are capable: He has led his MAGA followers from purity and defeat to maturity and power.

In his takeover of the GOP Senate delegation — signaled by his successful efforts to hasten Mitch McConnell’s retirement  — he has infused the ranks of his most zealous supporters with a new understanding of power and how to get it.

In 2022, the watchword in MAGA was purity.  Candidates were evaluated according to their scores on litmus tests of ideological fidelity.  Wary of Republicans who go to Washington, grow a horn, and turn RINO, GOP voters and leaders embraced the likes of Pennsylvania’s  Dr. Oz and Georgia’s Hershel Walker —ideologically pure but politically inexperienced and inept. 

Now there is a new team in town — the tandem between Montana Senator Steve Daines and President Trump.

Daines, the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial  Committee, Steve Daines, has brought a new wisdom and acuity to the job of running the Republican campaign for the Senate in 2024.

The new watchword is: electability. Sacrificial lambs need not apply.

Harking back to the bare knuckle tactics of legislative leaders like Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson, Daines has promoted winners and told losers to, well, get lost.

But the weapon behind Daines’ leadership is Donald Trump’s endorsement.

Trump is so dominant and popular with the MAGA base that his word, alone, can make or break candidates. But in 2022 Trump often bestowed his endorsement on candidates, with whom he empathized, but who couldn’t win.

Senator Daines is the perfect compliment to Donald Trump.  They both have been burned by unelectable candidates and share a new pragmatic determination to endorse winners.

In state after state, the duo are working together with Daines winnowing the field and  while Trump enforces discipline with his endorsement.

The Montana Senate race exemplifies how these two lions hunt together.  Republicans found a superstar candidate in Tim Sheehy, a purple heart, bronze star combat veteran, but his path to the nomination against John Tester, long time Democratic senator, was blocked by congressman Matt Rosendale the at-large congressman for Montana.

Rosendale had taken on Tester in 2018, losing by six points even though Trump had carried Montana by twenty points.

Daines realized that he needed to sweep Rosendale aside, deployed the big man — Donald Trump — to do so in dramatic fashion. Hours after Rosendale announced his Senate candidacy Trump swooped in and endorsed Sheehy calling him an “American hero”.  Rather than criticize Rosendale, Trump publicly urged him to run again for Congress instead saying “I also respect Matt Rosendale, and was very happy to Endorse him in the past – and will Endorse him again in the future should he decide to change course and run for his Congressional Seat.”

Oops! Rosendale withdrew from the Senate race, embraced Trump’s hint, and declared his candidacy for re-election for Congress. Now Sheehy has every prospect of beating Tester.

In Arizona, Republicans were reluctant to rally in support of their defeated 2022 governor candidate Kari Lake. But Daines made clear that the party was backing Lake and, using Trump’s endorsement as a cudgel, forced Republican Blake Masters who was also considering running, to follow Rosendale’s path and run instead for Congress.

In Nevada too, Daines is clearing the GOP field to make way for Sam Brown, a former Army captain whose face was shredded by an Iraqi roadside bomb. Brown, initially reluctant to back Trump, came around to back the former president in Nevada’s primary.

But Daines’ magical performance was inducing Marylands’ two- term RINO governor, Larry Hogan to run for Senate in one of the bluest states in the union. Despite his opposition to  Donald Trump —Hogan once even ran (briefly) against Trump for president — Hogan decided to run for an open seat in Maryland.  Now the GOP’s likely candidate — Hogan — holds a ten point lead in the general election. A steal for
Senate Republicans.

The Trump/Daines combo is the new game in town and it gives every promise of delivering a Senate majority to President Trump.

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