Former President Donald Trump on Thursday ridiculed Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for spending big on a U.S. House challenger in Ohio who lost to a Trump-endorsed candidate, sending a clear signal to Republicans to remain in lock-step or risk stoking the wrath of the de facto leader of their party.
Trump mused in a statement about whether Paul will “apologize” for backing former Ohio House member Ron Hood over coal lobbyist Mike Carey, who won the GOP primary to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) on Tuesday.
Super PACs affiliated with Paul and his allies, such as PAC Protect Freedom and America’s Liberty spent hundreds of thousands of dollars supporting Hood, a fact Trump was quick to seize on.
Trump said Paul spent “nearly $1 million” – though the money didn’t come directly from him – only for Hood to finish a “distant third,” asking of Paul, “Do you think he learned his lesson?”
Trump is attempting to reassert his dominance over the GOP in his post-presidency, backing challengers to Republicans who voted to impeach him and threatening “lots of primaries” if Republicans help Democrats pass an infrastructure bill.
Forbes has reached out to Paul’s office for comment.
Trump has put much of his post-presidential stock into the strength of his endorsement, which notably fell flat in a House election in Texas last month in which his endorsed candidate lost to another Republican. Trump played off that loss in a statement on Wednesday, claiming now-Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Texas) won thanks to support from Democrats but nonetheless heralding it as a personal victory, stating “I won because we ended up with a great Republican candidate.”
54%. That’s the share of Republicans who said in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday that Trump’s endorsement makes them more likely to vote for a candidate, with 34% saying it makes no difference and just 6% saying less likely. 73% of Republicans said it would be “good for the country” if Trump runs again.
What To Watch For
Trump has strongly signaled he plans to run again in 2024, stating last month, “I absolutely know my answer, and we’re going to do very well and people are going to be very happy.” His former spokesperson told Forbes days earlier that a Trump 2024 run is “50-50.”