Republicans need to ‘do better at broadening the party’s base’ to have a future

U.S. President Donald Trump walks up to speak about Operation Warp Speed in the Rose Garden at the White House on November 13, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

President Trump may have lost this election, but he did get more than 72 million votes, which is a lot more than many people thought he would. And most Republican leaders today are still standing behind Trump’s claims that there was widespread election fraud, and that he won.

But could a second Trump term actually happen? And what is the future of the Republican Party? For the answers to those questions, KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show brought in Michael Medved, host of the Michael Medved Show on sister station KTTH.

Medved backs both GOP, Dems in 2020 Voters Guide

Before the election, Medved had predicted that Joe Biden would win easily, which he stands by today.

“Joe Biden did win easily,” Medved said. “And all these lies that President Trump is putting forward, Joe Biden won a higher percentage of the votes than any other challenger to an incumbent president since FDR. I mean when FDR challenged Hoover.”

“And he got 51% of the vote, which is the same percentage that President Obama got when he ran for reelection, same percentage President Bush got when he ran for reelection, it’s the same percentage Reagan got when he challenged Jimmy Carter, except Biden’s percentage is slightly more,” Medved added. “And by the way, this myth has taken hold and it’s being promulgated by the White House, and it’s just wrong.”

Ursula proposed that maybe the perception is because it wasn’t expected that we’d still be talking about who won the election 10 days later.

“This shows why, honestly, responsible people can’t vote for a guy like this,” Medved said. “Because it is very clear, everybody recognizes he lost the election. Republicans didn’t do that badly. Republicans may hold the Senate. They definitely gained seats in the House. ”

Trump didn’t do that badly either, Medved said, but he didn’t win.

“And the fact that he is holding out this whole narrative about election fraud and the various means that they’re going to use to try to quote, ‘steal back the election,’ it’s nonsense,” he said. “It’s destructive for the country, and frankly, it’s destructive of his legacy.”

Trump did, Ursula points out, get 72 million votes, so does that make this his party?

“It is until he steps down from the presidency,” Medved replied. “I think that, frankly, every day he persists with this pretense that the election is still on, that he could win, every day that that continues, he lessens his hold on the party a little bit. It’s going to be very hard when people find out … there are all kinds of legal charges against him after he leaves the White House for everything ranging from tax fraud, and by the way, it’s not true that he can pardon himself. He can only pardon himself for federal crimes.”

“But some of the stuff that Attorney General Letitia James of New York is cooking up right now, these are serious matters where I think his hold on the party is going to begin to loosen,” Medved added. “But you’re absolutely right that it’s very strong right now.”

Sec of State Wyman: Dangerous to cast doubt on election without evidence

Why are Republican leaders supporting Trump’s claims?

Gee Scott asked Medved to explain why so few leaders have spoken out against Trump’s claims of fraud and are not standing up against the president.

“Because it’s the path of least resistance,” Medved said. “In other words, people who are in the Senate or in the House of Representatives of the United States, they know that Trump is vindictive. He’s mean. He holds grudges. He conducts feuds that if they say something against him right now, he’ll start tweeting against them and speaking against them and basically running them down to his 90 million Twitter followers.”

“They assume that sooner or later he’s going to go away anyway,” he added. “So why go out on a limb and say that what he’s doing is shameful? I’ll say it, you know, I’m already way out on a limb in terms of President Trump, but this is unprecedented. There is no precedent for it all, and it’s damaging to the country.”

Medved admits he’s faced death threats, career threats, boycotts, and complaints for speaking out against Trump.

For the Republican leaders who refuse to speak up or do something, Gee asks, does staying quiet really help the trust of the American people?

“No, it doesn’t. And again, honestly, I know some Republican members of both the House and the Senate who literally are counting down the days, they have calendars, until the day that President Trump leaves Washington,” Medved said.

It’s been suggested that whenever Trump concedes, he will announce his candidacy for 2024, Medved said, and start collecting money, holding rallies, and “basically try to shut off the possibility of any other Republican trying to win the nomination.”

“I think the best thing the Republican Party can do, and this goes back to Ursula’s point, to sustain itself as a major political organization with a future in this country is to try, as much as possible, to work with a new president who actually wants to get some things done for the American people,” Medved said. “And some of those things have to do with goals that many Republicans have embraced, like economic growth, an infrastructure plan, … jobs programs and retraining programs, and doing something to adjust this devastating budget deficit that was run up under Trump.”

If Republicans can work with president-elect Joe Biden, Medved says, then there’s a future for the party.

“If they’re just going to be the party of let’s give Trump another run in 2024, where everything is negative and we’re going to judge Biden to be a failure before he even has one day in office, that’s not going to succeed,” he said.

The idea of returning to what we know as the traditional Republican Party seems kind of far-fetched at this point, Ursula said, especially if the leaders are not speaking out right now.

“To suggest that Trump is not going to be a problem — Trump is a problem and a challenge, he has been
from before he won the nomination four years ago, though I think there’s going to be a different pattern than we usually see,” Medved said. “As I’m sure you’ve recognized, usually when somebody leaves the White House, people think of that person more fondly because you don’t hear about him in the news constantly. There’s not a constant controversy about him.”

Using Jimmy Carter as an example, Medved says we forget about his troubled presidency.

“But here’s the difference: Trump is going to insist on being the center of attention even when he leaves 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” Medved said. “And when you’re the center of attention, you’re also the center of controversy. And I believe that, inevitably, as some of these scandals end up getting followed up, and again, having to do with his personal finances and his taxes, and there are now 26 women who are pursuing legal remedies against him for assault and other charges, with all of that happening, I don’t think he’s going to be this popular, say one year from now as he is right now.”

Will the Republican Party be changed forever?

Ursula again asked if the Republican party can return to anything like it was before, or if it will be forever changed post-Trump.

“It won’t be changed in this direction, but the party needs to change,” Medved said. “It needed to change before. The main need for the Republican Party is actually something that Trump made a little bit of progress on in this election, which is to attract more non-white voters. There is no future for an exclusively white people’s party.”

“And it’s not the fault of every single Republican. But unless we do better at broadening the party’s base, expanding among college educated, expanding among every imaginable facet of America’s diversity, we’re not going to be competitive, and we’re not going to be relevant in the future,” he added.

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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