At a meeting of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), a GOP fundraising organization, President Donald Trump outlined a strategy Wednesday for the party moving into the 2022 midterm elections.
After unexpectedly good returns in the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections, Republicans are optimistic about their prospect in next year’s midterms. In his speech to the NRCC, Trump emphasized this optimism, expressing his belief that Republicans will win big in 2022.
Republican victories on Nov. 2, Trump said, are “just the beginning.”
“If we do our jobs and stick together, then exactly one year from today we are going to be watching a massive red wave sweep across our entire country and we are going to be celebrating the election of the largest house republican majority in American history,” Trump told the audience.
“The Democratic Party,” he added, “is a house of cards ready to come tumbling down.”
“Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and the entire radical Democrat Party are headed for a political meltdown of unprecedented proportions,” Trump said. “If Republicans can stick together, we can beat them in deep blue cities and states, and we can beat them anywhere—but we must stay unified. If we are united, we will end Nancy Pelosi’s political career once and for all.”
After giving these predictions, Trump turned to a discussion of the Republican Party itself, touching on how the party should evolve moving into the 2022 elections and on which policies Republicans should run. Fundamentally, Trump proposed a party of populism with a focus on the economic wellbeing and cultural values of middle-class Americans.
Trump said, “To save our country, the Republican Party must be the party that fights fiercely for the economic interests of American workers—the party that speaks boldly for the social interests of American families—and the party that stands proudly for the cultural values of God-fearing American patriots.”
He continued: “Some call this American populism, some call it national conservatism, I call it putting America first. But whatever you call it, it is here to stay—and it is not just the best way to win, it is the only way to win.”
Trump compared his vision for the party moving forward to the old Republican Party.
The old GOP, Trump said, was a party of “endless wars, nation-building, loose immigration policies, idiotic trade deals, and surrendering our culture to left-wing arsonists.” That Republican Party, Trump said, “is gone forever.”
“We are now the working people’s party,” Trump said. “We will be tough on crime, strong on borders, strong on trade, proud of our heritage, and proud of our American values. We will defend our citizens’ jobs and wages. We will protect our people’s homes and communities. And we will defeat the woke zealots trying to destroy our country.”
Trump’s comments, more akin to his 2016 campaign than to his 2020 campaign, come in the midst of an ongoing intra-party struggle within the GOP.
Some in the party, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) have called for the party to move on from Trump’s brand of populism.
Speaking in Kentucky on Monday, McConnell gave a very different take on GOP goals in the 2022 elections.
“I think the key to ’22 is to have a discussion with the American people about the new administration, the Democratic Congress, and what they’re doing,” McConnell said.
“I think the election will be about the future and not the past,” McConnell added in an opaque reference to the former president.
Both McConnell and Cheney have blamed Trump for the events of Jan. 6, and have demanded that the party move past Trump.
But Trump maintains massive influence in the GOP nonetheless.
Across the country, many Republicans in tight primaries hope for Trump’s weighty endorsement. According to the results of a January 2021 survey conducted by Northeastern, Harvard, Northwestern, and Rutgers, 45 percent of Republicans said they would be more likely to support a candidate endorsed by Trump (pdf).
On Tuesday, for example, Trump endorsed Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who is seeking to beat out the sitting governor in a primary.
Looking ahead to 2022, Trump has already thrown his high-value endorsement behind 45 candidates, including an endorsement of his former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders for Arkansas governor, an endorsement for 2016 primary challengers in the Senate like Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and a slew of other candidates vying for both state and federal level offices.
Despite the efforts of some in the party to move ahead without Trump, much of the GOP still looks to the former president as a leader in the party. His views on what the Republican Party should become moving forward are sure to influence the platforms of several Republicans hoping for his endorsement ahead of 2022’s elections.