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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Donald Trump will have to deal with a very unique challenge which other incumbent presidents have not had to face, at least in modern times, as he seeks a second term.
And that’s before he faces a single Democrat.
That’s because, as Trump seeks renomination as the Republican candidate for president, he will be opposed by not one, not two…but three rival Republicans seeking to deny him renomination.
Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh and now former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford.
In the past when a sitting president faced a primary challenge from within his own party, it always before has been from a single strong rival.
Think Ronald Reagan against Gerald Ford in 1976, Edward Kennedy against Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Pat Buchanan vs. George H.W. Bush in 1992.
In each of those cases, the primary challenger failed to deny the incumbent renomination. But the primary fight is seen as also fatally wounding him in November when it came to each’s respective general election.
So what will happen this time, as Trump must bypass multiple rivals?
Will having so many GOP opponents dilute the field? Or will the three rivals provide a strong anti-Trump voice?
“I think it’s that there’s a subset that’s not in step with President Trump. And you’re seeing that frustration from that wing of the party that is, you know, the more traditional people who have been around for a long time for the most part,” said Washington Post reporter Karoun Demirjian. “These candidates putting their name out to say that they will challenge Trump for the party nomination. Now, how significant of a challenge that any one of them can mount is up for question, because they don’t have the same sort of spotlight or soapbox or name recognition at this point as President Trump does.
“It takes a lot for anybody to challenge a sitting president also: What opportunity are they going to actually have to be able to launch a campaign that can compete with the president’s that’s been well underway for a while? We don’t know. But the fact that more and more names keep coming out there suggest that there’s a part of the GOP that’s up for grabs. Whether it’s going to be one of these candidates or the general election that they’re not comfortable with Trump. And if there’s a sizable enough number of people that aren’t comfortable with Trump, that could mean more numbers of humans in play when we actually get to the general election” in November.
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