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Donald Trump is Running Again. Is The GOP On Board? – CNN One Thing

David Rind (host)


When’s the last time you thought about Grover Cleveland? Probably not. Since, like, the fifth grade, right? Well, here’s a little recap. He was the 22nd and 24th president of the United States. That’s right. He left the White House in 1889 after his first term and then was elected again four years later. Today, he’s the only president ever to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Former President Donald Trump would like to join that club. However, there are many differences between Donald Trump and Grover Cleveland. While in office, donald Trump was impeached twice, tried to overturn the results of a free and fair election and incited an attack on the U.S. Capitol. After he left the White House, he took sensitive government documents with him. The Department of Justice is currently investigating whether those were illegally mishandled.

Former President Donald Trump


Two years ago, we were a great nation and soon we will be a great nation again.

David Rind (host)


Despite all that and more, Trump announced last week that he is indeed making a run for the White House in 2024.

Former President Donald Trump


In order to make America great and glorious again. I am tonight announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.

David Rind (host)


My guest this week is CNN this morning co-anchor Kaitlan Collins. She covered Trump’s first term closer than just about anybody in Washington or anywhere else. We talk about why Trump made this announcement now and whether or not the Republican Party is ready to move on from CNN, this is One Thing I’m David Rind. So, Kaitlan, you’ve covered Donald Trump at every stage of his political existence from candidate to the White House, now a former president under investigation. Are you ready for more?

Loaded question. Obviously, he is quite a story and you want to cover him. And I think people did that really well when he was in office the last time. I think people are better prepared to cover him this time around, knowing his tactics, knowing the way he operates. And I think that will help help the reporting around Trump.

David Rind (host)


Yeah. So I kind of want to start there. You’ve seen and heard just tons of Trump speeches over the past few years. What stood out to you about his announcement speech the other day?

A lot of people will tell you the tone. My bigger thing was the location.

Former President Donald Trump


I want to thank you all for being here tonight. A very special occasion at a very special place.

He did it at Mar a Lago, which if you watched in 2016, he did it at a Trump property here in New York, came down the escalator, but doing it at Mar a Lago stood out to me because it wasn’t some big rally. It wasn’t in Ohio or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin. He did it at a pretty subdued place where it’s his own club members…

David Rind (host)


He lives there, right? .

That’s his house. It’s just a few steps away. I mean, it’s a big Mar. A Lago is a bigger state, but I think part of that was by his advisers who wanted him to have a more constrained speech.

Please sit down. I feel so guilty having to stand.

And when he’s in front of a crowd and they’re cheering and chanting, he’s often a little more unrestrained and he adlibbed and he wants to have them fired up.

Former President Donald Trump


And I’m not going to use the term fake news media, so we’re going to keep it very elegant.

And maybe he’s more likely to talk about his false claims about the election.

David Rind (host)


Right. And so why do this now? Republicans had a more disappointing midterms than they would have liked. And a lot of Trump’s hand-picked candidates, a lot of them election deniers, also lost. So so why why the timing?

Well, he kind of put himself in a corner by already announcing before the midterms that he was going to announce on Tuesday. He could have backed down, but I think he would have viewed it as weak. I think a lot of it is driven by he wants to be in the spotlight. And, you know, everyone is talking about Governor DeSantis of Florida. He wants his name out there in the headlines. But also, I think a big part of it and underestimated part of it is being driven by the investigations. And he believes in his mind that announcing his candidacy is a way to insulate himself from those investigations.

David Rind (host)


So is the thinking if I’m running for president, that these various bodies investigating him are not going to come out and indict him with anything for fear of looking political.

They very well may still come out and do so.

David Rind (host)


Nothing is actually stopping them from doing that.

Nothing is stopping them. It does add another level to it. I think, though, even if they do proceed with that, if that’s what they decide, who knows? He can argue it’s political.

David Rind (host)


Hmm. So you are a superstar step within Trump’s inner circle. So what’s the vibe there? I’m curious, because a lot of the coverage, especially after January six, was a lot of former allies who jumped ship who said this is too much. So who is left to kind of one staff, the operation of running for president and also just being, you know, a mouthpiece for for what he wants to get out there.

It’s a pretty small circle around him right now when it comes to actual campaign infrastructure. It’s not some well-oiled machine that you’re seeing functioning. They have a lot of money now. I will say his circle has gotten smaller to a degree, though, since he’s been in Florida. He’s not in Washington. He’s not at the center of power. There is something to be said about, you know, the realm of politics. But seeing his candidates not do well because he endorsed him, I think emboldened people maybe to speak out a little bit more. And so I think that is part of the factor. But if you looked at who was around him, a Mar-a-Lago Mar-a-Lago on tuesday night, you know, his daughter Ivanka wasn’t there. She put out a statement saying she’s not going to be involved in politics this time around, even though she said she supports her dad. It’s just a different crew around him.

Sara, you seem to have a pretty similar reaction last night to Jeb Bush, who, of course, was in turn kind of mocking Trump, saying what a low energy speech by The Donald. Time for new leaders. What did you think?

Yeah. I mean, I was just that it was low energy, uninspiring.

But a lot of people that we’ve talked to, we had to have run our show this week. Sara matthews, who worked in the press shop.

Not that I would be welcome back anyways, but I just can’t imagine going back and working for him after watching him push all of these lies about the election. And.

And Mark Esper, who is his Pentagon secretary, said they would not go back to work for him.

If you want to govern, if you want a government consistent with conservative principles and you have to win elections and Donald Trump can’t win elections.

In The New York Post today on Trump, once a Trump megaphone buried the announcement of his presidential run. They buried it on page 26 and the headline was Been there, Don that.

The other aspect of this is it’s not just his allies, political allies. It’s the money guys who are distancing themselves from Trump.

Also today, Blackstone’s CEO, Stephen Schwarzman. He donated 33 and a half million dollars to Republicans in 2020, including Trump. He tells CNN that instead he will support one of the, quote, new generation leaders in the Republican Party and that he’s going to pick someone else to sponsor in the primaries.

You’re thinking when it comes to Steve Schwarzman from BlackRock, Ken Griffin from Citadel, Ronald Lauder, they’re all saying they are not going to be supporting him. That’s a big deal, not only in the sense of the money because Trump, he’s sitting on a pile of money that he’s fundraised over the last few years and didn’t spend that much in the midterms. It’s kind of the idea that they don’t want to be associated with him, that they are distancing themselves from him…

David Rind (host)


The brand is toxic.

His brand, which I mean, you could say has been toxic, but people didn’t distance themselves. But it’s notable that they are coming out and putting out statements saying, I will not be supporting Trump and Trump, who loves the idea that he’s got these big CEOs and private equity guys kind of in the palm of his hand. He’s not going to like that. However, I will say, you know, in 2016, a lot of people were like, oh, I’m not going to support this guy. Many of them were later saying inside the White House, at dinners, things like that. They changed their minds very quickly.

David Rind (host)


Kaitlan, before the break, you said that Donald Trump’s inner circle is a little smaller at this point. You know, some big money donors say they won’t support him. What about on Capitol Hill? Are we seeing any cracks there?

It depends on who you ask. You know, Kevin McCarthy has been talking about having the support of Trump. Elise Stefanik comes out and has this full throated endorsement when a story is being written that Trump wasn’t getting that many endorsements.

Donald Trump is going to announce a run tonight. Is that good for your party?

Sen. John Cornyn


Well, anybody can run.

But you are seeing more Republicans than typically speak up very clearly that they do not think Trump is a good fit for Republicans in 2024.

Sen. John Cornyn


And help support the Republican nominee. But I don’t know that it will be him.

Sen. Josh Hawley


I think that this election was the funeral for the Republican Party as we know it.

And I think they’re so gun shy from what just happened on Tuesday night that they do realize what Mitch McConnell maybe don’t like, what he said is true about candidates matter. And I think it’s a concern for them.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson


There’s going to be a number of alternatives in 2024 to the former president’s announcement.

Are you potentially one of those alternatives?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson


Absolutely. I’m looking at it looking at it very seriously.

The flip side of that, though, and we kind of saw this with Asa Hutchinson, is how do you distance yourself from Trump without distancing yourself from his voters?

Gov. Asa Hutchinson


You have to recognize some good things that Donald Trump did absolutely as president. But this is a different day and time.

Because they still need to keep the base in their in their realm. It’s just how do you thread that needle?

David Rind (host)


That’s what I wanted to ask, because according to one of our national exit polls, 77% of midterm voters who identify as Republicans still view Trump favorably. So who are the Republican figures out there that could take some of those away at this point?

That’s the million dollar question is how do you, in this day and age, be a Republican who can make it through the primary but win a general election? Because look at the midterms. All of these candidates who lost sailed through their primaries.

David Rind (host)


They crushed their Trump came on board. It was no problem, right?

And they wrapped themselves in Trump Oz, Masters, J.D. Vance, the second it becomes the general, though, and they’ve won their primary, the endorsements disappear from their websites. You know, the pictures with Trump are no longer their Twitter banners. And so that is something I’ll be watching so closely in 2024, which is to see what kind of Republican. Is it a Mike Pence? Is it a Asa Hutchinson type? Who but how do they make that the primary when they’re going up against the Trumps the Ron DeSantis’ because they could maybe potentially more likely be more appealing to an independent voter, a more centrist voter, women, suburban women. But can they survive the primaries? Going to be a big question.

Gov. Ron. Desantis


Look, I think we just we just finished this election, okay? People just need to chill out a little bit on some of this stuff.

David Rind (host)


Is that kind of like the Santos who has kind of been, you know, more or less anointed as the other choice here to some extent. But he hasn’t been tested nationally, right? He’s won a big resounding governorship recently. But in the other states. Who knows, right?

Correct. And that’s why I think people are I understand why people like immediately they want someone else to talk about as the front runner. But I think that there is a word of caution on DeSantis because he crushed his reelection. He also beat Charlie Crist, who is someone that, you know as a former Republican, but now he’s a Democrat. So like Republicans don’t love him. Democrats don’t really trust him, I don’t think.

Gov. Ron. Desantis


Don, we focused on results and leadership. And, you know, at the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night.

We don’t know his foreign policy. Those are big things that he’ll have to articulate on the campaign trail. Now, he is savvy and he did handle the COVID pandemic in the way that he thought was best, not the way that other outside voices were saying. And so maybe he will do well. And he also knows Trump really well. That will be interesting to watch. And I think Biden kind of summed it up well, which is he said it’ll be fun watching the two of them go at it. I think that’s the view even some Republicans have, like, let them fight it out and then we’ll get involved.

Yeah. What about the Democrats? Is there a world they’re excited by Trump as the nominee? They were able to beat Trump in 2020 and they, even in the midterms, kind of boosted some extreme election deniers in some primaries in hopes they were even easier chance in the general. And it kind of seemed to work in some cases.

This is the challenge for Democrats in how they’re articulating this. You saw the quote from Bernie Sanders the other day in The New York Times. He basically said, I think Trump is this threat to democracy, this unstable figure, and he shouldn’t be in office. On the other hand, I’m fine with this candidacy because I think we can beat him. And I think Tuesday night the midterm elections showed that voters rejected that.

Sen. Josh Hawley


What’s your reaction to the former president? I’m not excited about Donald Trump’s decision to run for office. I think it’d be better for the country if Donald Trump vanished from the political landscape…

Year we had Chris Murphy on the program this week and he was asked the same question, you know, does he make it easier to run? And Chris Murphy said, no, I don’t want to see Trump run.

Sen. Josh Hawley


For Democrats, this probably increases our political fortunes, but it’s bad for the nation. And I hope that Donald Trump loses and loses decisively in his bid for the Republican nomination.

I also think Democrats are thinking maybe it constrains their field because Biden has framed himself as the only person who can and has beaten Trump. So should Biden run again is a big question for them.

David Rind (host)


For sure. A lot to watch. Kaitlan Collins, thanks so much.

David Rind (host)


And just one more thing to note here. After I spoke to Kaitlan. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that he had named a special counsel to oversee two Trump related investigations. Longtime prosecutor Jack Smith will handled the Mar-a-Lago document, probe and parts of the January six investigation. Garland promised that Smith will exercise independent prosecutorial judgment. And a Trump spokesperson called the move, quote, a totally expected political stunt.

David Rind (host)


One thing is a production of CNN Audio. This episode was produced by Paola Ortiz and me, David Rind. Matt Dempsey is our production manager. Faiz Jamil is our senior producer. Greg Peppers is our supervising producer and Abbie Fentress-Swanson is the executive producer of CNN Audio. If you’re enjoying the show, just have a simple favor to ask. Go leave a rating and a review on Apple Podcasts that really actually helps other people discover the show. So more in the merrier. Right. Thanks for listening. We’ll be back next Sunday. Talk to you then.

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