Republicans rally in the city where Trump was indicted, but they’re reminding the ex-president with great caution, if at all.


ATLANTA (AP) — For most of the Republican presidential field, Donald Trump is the candidate who should not be named — or at least not criticized too harshly.

Several GOP contenders for the White House took the stage Friday in Atlanta, the city where the former president was latest accusation And where he should surrender next week Extortion charges related to the 2020 election. They tread carefully on the man they are trying to catch in the 2024 Republican primary campaign.

Radio host Erik Erickson’s annual meeting of conservative leaders and activists led him to sidestep the dominant figure in Republican politics. Erickson said The Gathering is our time to meet and hear what people think when they’re running for office, so why are we voting for you… What’s your vision.

Trump dominates primary polls and media attention despite criminal charges being filed for alleged actions before, during and after his presidency. Those Four indictments It seems Trump’s support boosted among Republican primary voters, even as the majority of people in the United States disagree with it. Many party loyalists who say they are open to alternatives are not necessarily enthusiastic about criticizing the former president.

The event provided a potential preview of how Trump could influence the conversation when several Republican contenders gathered Wednesday for the first presidential debate of the 2024 campaign. Trump has He indicated that he might not comebut the forum in Atlanta served as a reminder that it’s hard to avoid the former president — even when he’s not physically present.

Former Vice President Mike Pence told a friendly audience he had “real differences” with Trump “about the future of the country.” He nodded to the Capitol insurrection that is the focus of one of the pending indictments against Trump. He called it “that fateful day” and repeated that he had done “my constitutional duty”—his way of emphasizing a cause He did not agree to Trump’s wish To block an Electoral College victory for Democrat Joe Biden.

But before any of those carefully defined statements, Pence said, “I’ve always stood wholeheartedly on President Donald Trump’s side.”

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration, offered cash by pairing it with a compliment.

She said as part of a statement addressing the growing rivalry between Washington and Beijing.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis reiterated his attacks on the so-called “wake-up” and reminded those present Constant fight with entertainment giant Disney. The closest he’s come to confronting Trump has been to calling the party to look ahead, and he’s done so with a swipe on familiar chips outside the Republican fold.

Donald Trump boasts that his standing among Republicans is only improving as he faces a series of criminal charges. A new AP-NORC poll backs up Trump’s primary election claim, but the general election could be a different story. (16 August)

“There is no one who wants us to look back more than the Democrats and the media,” he said, adding an apparent allusion to Trump’s lies that his loss to Biden was manipulated. “They would like us to have to connect all of these things starting in 2020,” DeSantis said.

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has taken a similar tack, emphasizing his “optimism” about the “future” of the party and the country. Scott saved his presidential criticism of Biden.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, almost alone among Republicans hoping to lash out at Trump for his behavior and the related legal risks, could change dynamics Saturday when he appears with Erickson. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy will also appear, making his first bid for public office.

Wyatt Ayres, a national Republican pollster, explained, “You can’t win the nomination by attacking (Trump) directly.”

Ayres said the dynamics reflect the reality of the GOP core electorate. Ayres said that 10-15% are “never Trumpers,” while 30-35% are hardcore Trump supporters. The rest, half or a slim majority, Ayres said, “had doubts about his ability to get elected” in the general election, but were still “reliable Republicans who voted for him twice.”

As a Republican, Ayres said, “You can’t call him unfit for office.” “This basically requires half of the party to admit that they made a mistake and put someone unfit for office in the Oval Office. That’s just a psychological step too far for most people.”

Brad Reimer, an attendee from Marietta, Georgia, was among those in attendance who cast their vote Nov. 2 for Trump. But he described Friday’s conversation as refreshing.

“I don’t want to hear about Trump anymore,” Reimer said. “It’s good to hear the actual thoughts of these candidates.”

Indeed, Ericsson picked their minds on matters from the Ukraine war and trade policy to organizing artificial intelligence. However, those policy debates largely resulted in similar ideological positions—promises of smaller government, lower taxes, and higher military spending—that are routine in any Republican forum.

Reimer acknowledged that these overlaps make Trump’s “big personality” and “behaviour” stand out in the party he has controlled since launching his first presidential campaign eight years ago.

But Rimmer said he knows plenty of Republicans who, unlike him, embrace Trump’s “antics” or at least tolerate his “election lies” in 2020. “I try to tell them to see why,” he said, emphasizing that he accepted Biden’s victory in Georgia and on national level.

Making a more muted version of the same argument is Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who notably defied Trump in 2020 by endorsing Biden’s slate of Georgia voters. Erickson and others celebrated Kemp’s 2022 re-election over Democratic superstar Stacy Abrams even after he suffered Trump’s public wrath. They praised Georgia’s economy, giving credit to the governor, of course, rather than the Democratic administration in Washington.

Kemp himself urged Republicans to look forward.

“You can believe all you want about the 2020 election. That’s your right,” Kemp said. But “if you’re still mad about it,” he continued, “sign up to be a poll worker, become a poll watcher, get involved in the process, and knock on the door.” , phone calls, and do something to help us win 2024. Complaining isn’t going to help us.”

It was all about Trump. without mentioning his name.

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