As former President Donald Trump gears up for a third White House bid, Republicans on Capitol Hill are split on whether to back the former president for another term or to seek other options.
While several of Trump’s most loyal supporters have already endorsed the former president as the GOP nominee, others have remained quiet — either insisting it’s too early to endorse a candidate or avoiding the question altogether. Others have taken the step to look beyond Trump, sniffing out candidates who could serve as an alternative option.
The discord among the Republican Party comes just days after Trump announced at his Mar-a-Lago home on Tuesday that he plans to seek a third White House bid, eliciting some frustration from Republicans who argue the announcement may have come too soon.
“I thought the timing was off. I mean, for many of us, we’re just still trying to figure out — we still have races that aren’t declared yet,” Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), whose own race was called on Monday, told the Hill. “I thought that was a bit inappropriate.”
Other Republicans have expressed concerns his announcement could hurt GOP chances in races that have yet to be called, such as the Senate race in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Republican Herschel Walker that has advanced to a Dec. 6 runoff.
Others have begun looking to other contenders, such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who had a strong performance in his own reelection bid.
“What’s nice is that the Republicans actually have a bench for once,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) told the outlet.
Still, a handful of other Republicans have declined to weigh in.
“You guys are crazy,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters asking about whether he’d endorse Trump earlier this week.
However, support for the former president may serve as a wedge that threatens to divide the Republican Party ahead of the 2024 cycle, particularly as McCarthy vies to become the House speaker. McCarthy faces a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who has already thrown his support behind Trump’s reelection bid.
That could prove to be a challenge for McCarthy, who has struggled to garner the support of some House Republicans who consider themselves close allies of Trump.
“I do think that Kevin McCarthy needs to — if he wants to have a chance at being speaker, he needs to be much more declarative that he is supporting President Trump,” Jason Miller, a former senior adviser to Trump, told the Hill. “It’s gonna be a MAGA-centric caucus for the Republicans in the House and even for the Senate. We need leadership to match.”
Trump is the first Republican to announce his intent to run for the White House in 2024, but several others are expected to join the race, setting the stage for what could be a contentious primary cycle.