This statement is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
Speaking for myself, and not necessarily for the party as a whole, I want to take this opportunity to repeat what I have been saying during my entire term as chairman; I believe that Donald Trump is part of the past, and I want to focus on the future. Trump’s candidacy is at best a distraction from the direction the party needs to go in order to be successful in the Northeast and other swing states, and at worse it had become a liability for many of our down-ticket candidates. Now that Trump has made the decision to run, I believe that the best thing for the future of the party is for other qualified and accomplished Republicans to join the primary to give Republican voters a better choice in the 2024 election.
I do find it unfortunate that this announcement comes so early in the process, and Trump’s candidacy will become a factor of undue influence as State Committees re-evaluate the rules of their primary process next year.
While there are many elements of Trump’s speech that I can appreciate from last night, including things I think could have broad bi-partisan support like a lifetime ban on the revolving door from Congress to Lobbying firms and a call for Republicans to focus all of our policy goals on working class Americans, I can’t help but imagine that the policy goals put forward will eventually be corrupted by Trump’s more negative patterns of behavior. Republican policies like these will get broader support and a more fair hearing if they come from almost anyone other than Trump.
I believe former President Trump is correct in his predictions of how much worse this Biden economy will get in the next 2 years. This is all the more reason that Republicans need to have a more robust discussion about the future of our party that needs to be shaped by policy, not Trump’s personality. The 2022 midterms suggested that even though voters didn’t like the current economy under Biden, Republicans did not articulate a clear vision of how we would make things better, which I believe is a factor in why we couldn’t close the gap on what should have been a good electoral environment. If Trump’s campaign focuses too much around past grievances, especially aimed at Biden, without offering a clear alternative Republicans should expect the 2024 results to look a lot like the 2022 results.
In the end, the party will belong to the Republicans who show up and get involved. If Republicans want something different than Trump, and want to redefine our party outside his shadow, it will take those voters getting more active and involved at the local level, and working for better candidates during the primary. Republican voters must become the change they want to see – both as members of our party, and as citizens of our country.