Are Trump loyalists ready to give up on him? In a new interview, a former Republican candidate who backed Donald Trump during his first run in 2016 talks about why he isn’t now.
However, after his party’s midterm election losses last year, there are signs that that following is beginning to fray.
Donald Trump: Slowly Losing Support in the GOP?
One example is an interview, published by The New Yorker earlier this week, by journalist Isaac Chotiner with Jim Renacci, a former Republican Congressman from Ohio, who was also an unsuccessful candidate for Senate and governor in that state in the last few years. Renacci backed Trump relatively early on, in 2016.
Chotiner is known for giving tough interviews that trap his interview subjects within their own words, although this particular session was more straightforward.
Renacci continues to support what he calls the “America First” agenda, including operating a political action committee called the American Greatness PAC. Even so, Renacci makes clear that he is not officially backing Trump’s presidential candidacy as of now.
“At this stage, I think we need to see what candidates get in the race,” the former Congressman said in the interview. “Look, what I’ve said about Donald Trump in the past—and I was a big supporter and endorser of his early on, in 2016—is that I appreciate what he’s done. I appreciate many of the policies and principles he stood for, and I appreciate the work he was able to accomplish between 2016 and 2020. But today we need to see what candidates step up and who can really take the country forward.”
Why not continue to back Donald Trump, especially since he has done so nearly from the beginning?
“I say the one problem is that he has become very polarizing for the base of the Party,” he said. “Now, he’s got a pure base of thirty-five percent, maybe even as high as forty percent. And if it was just a primary between former President Trump and another candidate, I believe he would not be successful. But, as long as there are multiple candidates running, former President Trump probably will be successful.”
Chotiner asked him if he was expressing these concerns on top of behalf of himself or others.
“I think the Republican Party is divided between those who are very pro-Trump no matter what, and the establishment, which is really anti-Trump,” Renacci said. “[A]nd then there are a lot of people in the middle, where I would consider myself, who want our country to go back to many of the policies that former President Trump was putting in place, but are just a little concerned with many of the things the President is saying.”
He also made a comment about what loyalty means when it comes to Trump and his loyalists.
“One of my other biggest concerns is President Trump’s loyalty. What’s the best way of saying this? I’ve often said that his loyalty only goes one way.” He noted that he, personally, “stuck my neck out and supported candidate Donald Trump in 2016,” while Trump did not support him when he challenged incumbent Republican Gov. Mike DeWine last year.
“I was in constant contact with former President Trump during the Ohio primary. He was always saying that he appreciated all that I’d done. He was a big supporter of mine. He was concerned that there were three people in the race and that, as long as the third person was there, he was going to be peeling votes away from me, which would cause Governor DeWine to win… The person who is so concerned about himself and not about the entire country and the country moving forward is one of the reasons he doesn’t have my support today.”
Expertise and Experience: Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.