Republican insiders are concerned about what happens if former President Donald Trump loses the 2024 GOP primary after a disappointing midterm election, Semafor reports.
Republicans who have worried for two years about what happens if Trump wins the GOP nomination are now increasingly concerned about “what happens if he loses,” according to the report.
“The threat is simple: Unless the rest of the party goes along with him, he will burn the whole house down by leading ‘his people’ out of the GOP,” former Attorney General Bill Barr warned in a New York Post op-ed on Tuesday.
ABC News’ Jonathan Karl asked former House Speaker Paul Ryan what happens if Trump loses and “then marches across the street and declares he’s an independent candidate.”
“Then he gives the left the country. And I think he would not want to be blamed for doing that,” Ryan said, adding that “I don't talk to him, so I don't know what's going on in his mind.”
Trump, who once explored running for president on the Reform Party ticket in 2000 and has threatened to leave the GOP when he feels threatened by Republican leaders, repeatedly refused to rule out an independent run in 2016 when asked if he would accept a primary defeat.
Trump bragged that the refusal gave him “a lot of leverage” over the party.
“In 2015, Donald wasn’t initially being taken seriously by the GOP as a potential candidate,” Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, told Semafor. “His threat to run as a third party candidate was to ensure people knew of his intent and that he would have no problem with destroying the party if they stood in his way.”
Former Republican National Committee official Michael Short compared the dynamic to a “hostage situation.”
Two sources close to Trump dismissed the idea that he would run as an independent but a former Trump administration official told the outlet it was possible.
“I don’t see that happening right now,” the former official told Semafor. “But Trump was so successful in part because he ran against the elite and out of touch political establishment on both sides, so I’d say it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility.”