Two influential Republicans, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, have alluded to the fact that Trump running for re-election in 2020 is by no means a sure thing.
In an interview on MSNBC, Paul warned against assuming that Trump will run and further admitted that, even if he does, “there could well be a primary.”
— Kasie DC (@KasieDC) October 29, 2017
“If we even get to that, we need to know, is President Trump running for re-election? I think you won’t know that until you get into sort of second, third year of his presidency.”
Only days earlier, Gov. Christie told Today’s Matt Lauer, “If he runs again, I would support him, yes, but I’m not so sure what will happen.”
“Four years is a long time, and especially for someone who has not spent a lifetime in politics, so I think those years affect him differently,” Christie added. “So I’m sure the president will make whatever decision is best for him and his family and the country.”
The comments come at the start of an especially tumultuous week for the Trump administration. Today, three of special counselor Robert Mueller’s indictments were unsealed, implicating former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, his longtime business partner Rick Gates, and former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos.
Other Republicans have also mounted campaigns or, as reported by The New York Times, shadow campaigns so as not to outright undercut the President. Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senators Ben Sasse and Tom Cotton, and even Vice President Pence have begun courting high profile donors, traveling to early primary states, and speaking at notable Republican dinners.
With Trump’s lowest approval rating yet in office, having another candidate on the ballot in 2020 may be Republicans’ best, and only, chance at remaining competitive in the next presidential election—whether Trump agrees to it or not.