Republicans Are Divided on Trump’s Third Bid for the Presidency

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“America’s comeback starts right now,” Donald Trump announced at Mar a Lago on Tuesday night. While many of the former President’s supporters have been long awaiting his return to the campaign trail, some Republicans now appear less than thrilled about it after the party underperformed expectations in this year’s midterm elections.

Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka seems to be taking a step back from her once-prominent role in his campaign and presidency. “I do not plan to be involved in politics,” she said in a statement on Tuesday night after her father launched his third bid for the presidency. “While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena,” she added.

Trump announced his bid for the 2024 Republican nomination for president as votes continue to be counted in the midterms. The Republican party failed to deliver an anticipated “red wave”—it’s on track to win only a very slight majority in the House while Democrats maintain control of the Senate. Some Republicans are blaming Trump for the party’s poor showing, as a slew of Trump-backed candidates, many of whom made denying the results of the 2020 election central to their campaigns, lost.

Read More: Defenders of Democracy Beat Election Deniers in Every 2024 Battleground

Ahead of Trump’s announcement, asked what he thought of the former president mounting a comeback campaign, retiring Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina told TIME that he “could care less.”

Other Republican senators avoided passing judgment one way or the other. “Do you have any policy questions you want to ask me?” Chuck Grassley, who just won reelection in Iowa, told TIME. “I don’t answer questions in the hallway,” said Tim Scott of South Carolina, who also won reelection last week.

Trump’s path to the Republican nomination is not a foregone conclusion for everyone in the party. Indiana’s Todd Young said he expects many others to announce their candidacy too. “We’ve got a deep bench, so that’s a really good thing,” he said. “I think it will be healthy to have a lot of people on the Republican side offering their visions.”

Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe, who was reelected in 2020 with Trump’s endorsement but announced in February his retirement at the end of this year, declined to comment when he was asked if he would support Trump in 2024. But he waved TIME’s reporter back to clarify: “I’ll support whoever the 2024 nominee is.”

Criticism of Trump has increased since the midterms, including unusual attacks from inside the GOP, with some concerned that he could hurt the party’s future election chances.

Read More: As Republicans Begin Blame Game, Trump Is the Obvious Target

On Sunday, Maryland’s outgoing Republican Governor Larry Hogan said on CNN that it would be a mistake to nominate Trump again.

GOP megadonor and hedge fund founder Ken Griffin called Trump a “three-time loser” at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Tuesday, referring to his lack of electoral success in the 2020 presidential election, the loss of Georgia Senate seats in 2021 and this year’s midterms. He urged the party to move on.

But not everyone is ready to do that. Several Republican figures have thrown their weight behind Trump’s reelection bid. That includes Elise Stefanik, of New York, the highest-ranking congressional Republican to publicly back Trump. “I am proud to endorse Donald J. Trump for President in 2024,” she said in a statement last week. “It is time for Republicans to unite around the most popular Republican in America, who has a proven track record of conservative governance.”

“President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party,” Andy Biggs, a representative from Arizona who unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Kevin McCarthy this week to be the Republican leader in the House, posted on Twitter Tuesday night. “Let’s Make America Great Again.”

Texas Congressman Ronny Jackson, who previously served as President Trump’s chief medical advisor, also tweeted on Tuesday night, saying Trump is the greatest President he’s ever seen. “I’m on his side 100%! President Trump has my complete and total endorsement!!!” he wrote.

Some of Trump’s supporters include Republican candidates he backed in last week’s midterms. Kari Lake, who was defeated in the race for governor of Arizona, posted on Twitter Tuesday night as Trump was still speaking that he has her “complete and total endorsement!”

“Trump took a chance on me…I will forever be grateful,” Abraham Hamadeh, a political novice who ran for Arizona attorney general in a race that remains too close to call, tweeted in support of Trump right after the campaign launch event. “America is coming back.”

—With reporting by Eric Cortellessa / Washington

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