Donald J. Trump refused to say he would support the next Republican presidential nominee if it was not him, exposing a potential quagmire along the party’s path toward reclaiming the White House in 2024 and showcasing, once again, the former president’s transactional spin on political loyalty.
In a radio interview on Thursday, the conservative commentator Hugh Hewitt asked Mr. Trump if he would support “whoever” wins the party’s nomination next year. Mr. Trump announced his third presidential campaign in November and faces a number of potential Republican challengers.
“It would depend,” Mr. Trump said, adding, “It would have to depend on who the nominee was.”
The hesitation from Mr. Trump differed from many of the Republican Party’s top officials and most prominent activists. Several of Mr. Trump’s critics inside the party, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, have repeatedly said they planned to back the G.O.P. nominee, even if that person is not their top choice.
William P. Barr, who served as attorney general during the Trump administration, called Mr. Trump’s tactics “extortion” in an interview last August with Bari Weiss, a political writer and commentator. “What other great leader has done this? Telling the party, ‘If it’s not me, I’m going to ruin your election chances by telling my base to sit home. And I’ll sabotage whoever you nominate other than me.’ It shows what he’s all about,” Mr. Barr said. “He’s all about himself.”
Minutes before Mr. Trump’s interview on Thursday, Larry Hogan, a Republican who is the former Maryland governor and a consistent Trump antagonist, said on the same radio program that he would back the Republican nominee. [Continue reading…]