/‘It’s almost like insanity’: GOP base continues to lash out over Trump’s defeat – POLITICO

‘It’s almost like insanity’: GOP base continues to lash out over Trump’s defeat – POLITICO


For nearly two decades, U.S. presidents have followed the advice of top military leaders and kept troops in Afghanistan. But last week President Biden ovverode the brass and announced a complete withdrawal.

Shaking his head at the back of the room when the outcome became apparent, Shelley Wynter, a conservative talk show host in Atlanta, said, “It’s going to hurt the party. We don’t need a bomb thrower. We need diplomats and ambassadors.”

He said, “It’s hard to go into east Cobb County and talk to suburban voters with a MAGA hat on.”

In Georgia and elsewhere, there have been some positive signs for the GOP in the suburbs. Despite Trump’s loss, Republicans performed well down-ballot in November, both nationally and in Georgia. Scores of traditionally Republican voters split their tickets, elevating Biden while propelling Republicans to victories in congressional and state legislative races.

“It’s a mistake to assume that suburban voters are somehow locked into the Democratic column,” said Whit Ayres, the longtime Republican pollster. “They are very much up for grabs not just in Georgia, but around the country.”

Still, Ayers said, the focus of party activists on exacting a measure of payback on the party’s own statewide elected officials is “doing the exact opposite of what’s necessary to revive the Republican Party in the suburbs.”

“Picking a fight with your own party’s governor and lieutenant governor and secretary of state,” he said, “doesn’t strike me as the wisest of political moves.”

Following the weekend conventions, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that most local Republican parties declined to rebuke Kemp, with expressions of anger largely coming from rural, heavily conservative swaths of the state. In Gwinnett County — another populous, once-Republican Atlanta suburb — resolutions to censure Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and to encourage Raffensperger to resign were rejected. But in Cobb County, resolutions rebuking Kemp and other officials were merely put off because of a time limitation, officials said. They are expected to be taken up by county party officials at a later meeting.

“The anger with respect to the fraudulent vote is extreme, and I think many voters do not think our elected officials did the job,” said Leroy Emkin, a member of the Cobb County Republican Party’s resolutions committee.

The party, he said, has an obligation to put its politicians “on notice” regardless of the political ramifications.

“It is a matter of truth, of the Constitution,” he said.

Emkin is not in the minority. Most Republicans here believe that the last election was not free and fair. And it’s in part due to frustration over the outcome of that election, coupled with the reality of a Democratic-controlled Washington, that Georgia Republicans credited large crowds at their events this past weekend. The gathering in Cobb County, which drew several hundred delegates, was more than double the size of some previous years, said Jason Shepherd, the party chair before Grubbs was elected.

It was the same at county party meetings across the state. Jason Thompson, a Republican national committeeman from Georgia, said the GOP “is energized more than ever.”

“Not everyone agrees on everything,” he said. “But I can assure you that what we do agree upon is that what President Biden is pushing and the Democrats in Congress … is just beyond the pale.”

Republicans now have a common foil in Washington. And in Georgia, Republicans have rallied recently around the state’s controversial new voting law — and against the opposition to it from Democrats and corporate America. Among the resolutions Cobb County Republicans are likely to pass is one targeting Coca-Cola and Delta, two locally headquartered companies that condemned the law.

Watson said that “there has been no greater coalescing moment among Republicans than the fight that has transpired since SB 202,” the Georgia voting law.

“It has absolutely been a galvanizing force that has bonded anew the governor’s relationship with the most hard-core Republicans,” he said. “Is it ubiquitous and unanimous? No. But that’s impossible.”

By the time the midterm elections arrive, Republicans will almost certainly have other grievances to bond over, as well as policies of Biden and the Democratic-controlled Congress that they view as far out of step with mainstream voters. And the GOP’s own divisions are likely to fade to at least some degree once the primaries are done and before the general election.

“The Republicans don’t have to defend their agenda in 2022 because the Democrats are in control of everything,” said Jay Williams, a Georgia-based Republican strategist. “Republicans just need to play defense and let Democrats eat themselves, and that’s what they’re doing.”

But the GOP in Georgia is not yet done cannibalizing itself. Outside the party convention in Cobb County, David Gault, a local precinct chair, said that “people just need to really calm down and, I think, perhaps we just need to mind our own store right now.” The party, he said, should be “all about the future.”

The response from the base came from inside the convention hall, where a delegate carried a poster outlining complaints about voter fraud, Kemp and Raffensperger, among others.

“NO,” it said in red ink. “We Will NOT Move On!”

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