Media laments failure of GOP 'Stop Trump' effort to prevent former president from winning nomination

 December 9, 2023

In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump's presidential campaign was nearly done in by the active and vocal opposition he faced from fellow Republicans in the so-called "Never Trump" movement.

A similarly concerted oppositional front has not quite yet emerged in the 2024 cycle and Politico, in an opinion column from Jonathan Martin, asked the rhetorical question, "Where are all the anti-Trump Republicans?"

Martin lamented the comparative silence from the former president's influential critics in the GOP and lambasted the "Stop Trump movement," such as it is, as having been "abysmal" thus far in its efforts to derail Trump's re-election bid.

Current "Stop Trump" effort not on par with prior "Never Trump" movement

Politico's Martin observed that former senior administration officials who soured on former President Trump have largely remained silent, as have most elected Republican officials, including state governors and lawmakers at the state and national levels, with some exceptions, when they should be joining together in a coordinated opposition movement.

The same could be said for the GOP candidates who have occasionally criticized Trump but have spent most of their resources attacking each other and splitting the support of anti-Trump Republican voters when they should all be coalescing around one agreed upon non-Trump opponent.

"It’s just under a month until the Iowa caucuses and there’s a striking lack of urgency among Republicans who do not want to see Trump renominated. There’s resignation, rationalization, despair and even denial. Yet there’s little action," Martin wrote.

Begrudging acceptance of reality

Part of the relative silence from anti-Trump Republicans, Martin posited, is a begrudging acceptance that the GOP base still loves the former president, which for some has resulted in a self-interested willingness to go along to get along but for others has sparked a realization that even a belated concerted oppositional front against Trump would prove insufficient to dissuade his legion of supporters.

Indeed, prominent anti-Trump Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) told the columnist, "If virtually all the GOP governors and senators were to say they would not support Trump, even in the general, I don’t think his poll numbers would be harmed, at all. They might even get better. I think the MAGA base dislikes our elected elites as much or more than they dislike Democrats."

Other Trump critics, such as Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, remain optimistic that the undisputed GOP frontrunner will eventually falter and slip from his seemingly insurmountable lead for the nomination, perhaps once the field of candidates is whittled down and consolidated or as Trump's multiple impending legal trials begin next year.

It's been the same story for months

Politico's Martin is certainly not alone in his observations, nor is the anti-Trump alarm bell he is ringing particularly new, as NBC News reported in September that the Republican anti-Trump effort had "floundered" amid the former president's continued surge in the polls.

"Five months out from the primary here, the anti-Trump effort is fragmented and weakened as no other Republican presidential candidate is able to even come close to the former president in the polls, despite his legal troubles," the outlet stated. "Nationally, the hypothetical anti-Trump cavalry within the Republican Party has yet to materialize, and GOP strategists tell NBC News that it may be too late."

A similar report emerged days later from CNN about how Republican "hopes begin to fade" in terms of stopping Trump from winning the party's nomination and shared how some of the major anti-Trump groups that had spent millions of dollars on attack ads against the former president had admitted that their efforts and expenditures had been for naught.

Likewise, Axios reported in early October that many anti-Trump Republicans were "throwing in the towel" and "are giving up -- and giving into the belief that nothing will stop him from winning the GOP's presidential nomination."

To be sure, a lot can still happen between now and the Republican National Convention next summer, but as things stand now -- the RealClearPolitics average of polls shows Trump with 60.3% support and a nearly 48-point lead over his nearest competitor -- the former president has already prevailed in the GOP primary before any votes have been cast and will almost certainly be the party's nominee in the 2024 election.

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