The Republican Party has had to make a litany of changes in order to accommodate Donald Trump ever since he first announced his nomination for the presidency, and now it appears that the GOP is willing to make more adjustments to keep him happy.
According to the Hill, the South Carolina Republican Party is considering canceling the 2020 primary in order to protect Trump from a challenger. Speaking to the Washington Examiner, the chairman of the South Carolina GOP, Drew McKissick, said that the party will do what is in the best interest of Donald Trump. If that involves canceling the 2020 primary so that he doesn’t face a challenger, so be it.
“We have complete autonomy and flexibility in either direction,” McKissick said about the possibility of canceling the primary. He anticipates that Trump will not face a primary challenge because the GOP is already united under him, and anyone challenging Trump is bound to end up on the losing side.
“Considering the fact that the entire party supports the president, we’ll end up doing what’s in the president’s best interest.”
It is telling that for McKissick, not unlike it is for other members of the Republican Party, the guiding principle is now what is in the interest of Donald Trump, and not the party itself.
South Carolina is a strategic primary for Republican contestants, dubbed “first in the South” and usually third on the presidential nominating calendar after Iowa and New Hampshire. Trump won handsomely against Hillary Clinton in the state back in 2016, defeating her by a massive 14 percentage points. Even in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2016, Trump was well ahead of his nearest challenger Marco Rubio, beating him by double digits. Trump is expected to do well in the state again and it is therefore not altogether surprising that the state’s GOP is already considering plans to scrap the contest.
As reported, precedent has it that while incumbent presidents might defeat intraparty challengers with ease, fielding a contestant against an incumbent president can often lead to a poor performance in the presidential elections.
“To minimize potential political hurdles for Trump, some state parties could move to scrap their 2020 presidential primaries. Already a long shot, the unavailability of one or more high profile primary contests could further hamstring the odds of any Republican who dares to run against Trump in 2020. There is precedent for this strategy, even when less uncertainty has swirled around the incumbent president.”
In 1992, the Iowa primary challenge was canceled by the GOP in order to protect George H.W. Bush from being embarrassed by Pat Buchanan, while in 2004, the South Carolina Republican primary was scrapped when George Bush was running for re-election.