Home Politics “They can recommend whatever they want,” but Trump is setting policy from a position of strength

“They can recommend whatever they want,” but Trump is setting policy from a position of strength

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"They can recommend whatever they want," but Trump is setting policy from a position of strength

After the House Republican Study Committee last month released an election-year policy package that proposed raising the retirement age, John McLaughlin, a veteran pollster who advised former President Donald Trump, said “no “It was a good idea.”

The former president and presumptive Republican nominee, he told POLITICO, will be “the dominant voice in the Republican Party of what Republicans stand for.” No rejected candidates who make suggestions that disagree with Trump’s policies.

“They can recommend whatever they want,” he said. “But unless they convince him to change his position, that won’t happen.”

Strategists in Trump’s orbit say he makes policy for the party and view some of the positions taken by conservatives on Capitol Hill and elsewhere as politically toxic. But after a presidential primary in which Trump paid no price for opposing hardline conservatives on two major policy issues (abortion and social security), they also believe he is navigating from a position of commanding political autonomy.

Trump is coming under increasing pressure to clarify which abortion restrictions he would support, particularly from anti-abortion advocates who are calling for nationwide restrictions. Trump announced Tuesday that he will speak more on the issue next week.

But Trump is the rare Republican who has emerged unscathed from deviating from Republican orthodoxy. Despite taking credit for installing the Supreme Court justices needed to overturn Roe v. Wade, Trump described Florida’s six-week abortion ban as a “terrible thing and a terrible mistake” and said states should decide their own laws. And aside from apparently entertaining the idea of ​​cuts to Social Security once earlier this year, he has otherwise kept his promise not to touch that or Medicare.

“It’s so clear that he’s not a radical on any of these issues, which I think helps protect a lot of Republicans who are more conservative on those issues,” said a Republican strategist with close ties to Trump’s orbit and who granted anonymity. to talk. freely. “Honestly, you can’t look at Donald Trump and say he’s an abortion extremist. “No one, to be honest, believes he’s Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum when it comes to abortion.”

President Joe Biden’s campaign has attacked Trump for paving the way for near-total abortion bans in several states. Immediately after a court ruling on Monday allowing a six-week abortion law to take effect in Florida, the re-election campaign declared the state “Ground Zero for Trump’s MAGA Plan” and began airing anti-Trump ads on abortion . Biden’s advisers said they consider Florida, which has become an increasingly red state, “winnable” in November, when voters will now have a say in a referendum to guarantee the right to abortion up to 24 weeks.

The six-week ban that will soon take effect (and the referendum that will keep abortion in the news for months) is a drag on Trump, who resides in Palm Beach and will presumably vote on the initiative. In a vague statement Tuesday, Trump’s campaign said he “supports the preservation of life, but he has also made clear that he supports states’ rights because he supports the right of voters to make decisions for themselves.” .

But Trump’s past criticism of the state’s abortion law, which was backed by his former primary rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, could complicate Biden’s efforts to attack him on the issue. Over the past two years, Trump has resisted calls from some within his party to adopt broad restrictions on abortion after the fall of Roe.

And in 2016, Trump built a political brand in part on his promise to protect entitlement programs, a position that became more common among Republicans during his tenure.

“Politically, it’s the stupidest thing to say, especially in an election year,” the strategist close to Trump’s operation said of House Republicans’ suggestion to raise the retirement age.

The strategist argued that the inevitable Democratic attacks will struggle to sustain, given Trump’s brand on the issues.

“If Paul Ryan were the candidate, the Social Security issue would be much more credible,” the strategist said. “If Mike Pence ran, the issue of abortion would be too. But the candidate is Donald Trump, and he has been pretty adamant about not being on the far right on any of these issues.”

And in a presidential election year, when the GOP is trying to preserve its narrow majority in the House and take back the Senate, the Trump-aligned strategist added, “this is where Trump really helps Republicans.”

Trump, for his part, withstood media scrutiny for months during the Republican Party presidential primaries for his refusal to support a federal abortion law. Many of his opponents, including DeSantis, Pence, Sen. Tim Scott (R.S.C.) and, eventually, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, pledged to sign 15-week national bans if elected. Trump’s refusal to do so led to disagreements with prominent abortion advocacy groups, although Trump clinched the Republican nomination without any discernible slippage in support among evangelicals and social conservatives.

More recently, Trump signaled his willingness to support a 15-week abortion law in Congress, while emphasizing that there must be exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of a pregnant person.

But he has stopped short of endorsing such a ban, and some advisers close to him in the days since have suggested that Trump’s adoption of such a measure is not a done deal.

“I think if you asked him now, he would say he’s okay with letting the states decide,” Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law and current co-chair of the Republican National Committee, said in a interview last week with NBC.

Dave Carney, a veteran Republican strategist in both presidential and down-ballot races, said he appreciates GOP policy experts trying to address the issue of the insolvent entitlement program, but would be “surprised if would be in the actual legislative budget” for next year.

“This has been going on forever, there are intellectuals sitting around, trying to find ideas to start or continue the conversation,” Carney said. He pointed to a policy platform released during the 2022 midterm elections by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), then chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, that included raising taxes, among other proposals.

“From a candidate’s point of view, do you want to address this? No,” Carney said. “But he gives you the opportunity to say you don’t support him.”

“There is no member of Congress running for re-election in even a slightly competitive race who is going to talk about those things other than to say ‘I’m not for it,’” Carney continued. “If Trump finds it too annoying, I’m sure he’ll do his part and crush it.”

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