Top Republicans in Washington are reluctant to call Joe Biden the president-elect publicly, fearing a rebellion by grassroots conservatives loyal to President Trump that would sink the party’s Senate majority.
Republican insiders privately concede Biden ousted Trump and dismiss suggestions voter fraud, ballot errors, or other issues would be uncovered sufficient to alter the election. But with the president claiming otherwise and two Georgia runoff elections set for January that will decide the Senate majority, plus midterm elections in 2022, most congressional Republicans are backing Trump. The move is purely transactional.
The same election Trump questions saw vulnerable Republicans in Congress reelected, leaving the party poised to maintain the Senate majority and just a few seats shy of reclaiming the gavel in the House. But Republicans worry the GOP base would sit on its hands for the next two years if they abandon Trump now and downplay his concerns about the vote.
“If they inject themselves before the conversation ends, the base is going to” turn its back on congressional Republicans, said Brian Lanza, a GOP operative and former Trump adviser. A Republican strategist with ties to the party’s establishment on Capitol Hill agreed with that assessment.
“So long as the campaign is pursuing actual legal remedies, the voters will expect our politicians to hang in there,” this strategist said. “Trump’s never-back-down approach is about 90% of his appeal for Republican voters.”
Biden was on track to win 306 Electoral College votes, the same as received by Trump when he was elected four years ago. The former vice president was declared president-elect on Saturday after major media organizations projected him the winner of the election — just as they did with Trump on election night four years ago.
The president is blaming key losses in the swing states of Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, and his likely defeat in Arizona and Georgia, on massive fraud and other malfeasance committed by the Democrats, despite a lack of convincing evidence. The Trump campaign, in conjunction with the Republican National Committee, has dispatched lawyers to investigate and take legal action in each of those states.
Republicans are skeptical much will come of it. The few of among them willing to criticize Trump over the past four years are admonishing him for damaging the electoral process.
“A sitting president undermining our political process & questioning the legality of the voices of countless Americans without evidence is not only dangerous & wrong, it undermines the very foundation this nation was built upon,” outgoing Texas Rep. Will Hurd tweeted. But most prominent Republicans are encouraging Trump to keep fighting, describing the outcome as far from decided.
That includes Republicans eyeing a 2024 presidential bid, House Republicans focused on winning the majority in 2022, and Senate Republicans worried about the two critical runoff elections in Georgia after Biden became the first Democrat to win the state since 1992. If Democrats won both, they would hold 50 seats, and with presumptive Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote, that would be enough for Senate control.
Despite losing to Biden, Trump’s 71.3 million votes nationally are the second-most in history behind Biden’s 75.8 million. That equals a lot of GOP voters that Republican officials are wary of alienating going forward by prematurely throwing the president overboard.
“In the United States of America, all legal ballots must be counted; any illegal ballots must not be counted,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday in remarks on the floor, echoing the rhetoric of the Trump campaign. “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”
Even some Republican elder statesmen are parsing their comments. The party at all levels is bending over backward to avoid appearing to accept that Biden won the election.
“After counting every valid vote and allowing courts to resolve disputes, it is important to promptly accept the result,” outgoing Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, a McConnell ally, said in a statement. “The orderly transfer or reaffirming of immense power after a presidential election is the most enduring symbol of our democracy.”
Author: David M. Drucker
Source: Washington Examiner: GOP fears conceding Trump loss would spark base revolt and loss of seats