Opinion: I worked for Trump, and I won't be supporting his 2024 reelection bid
Opinion by Gavin J. SmithUpdated: Wed, 16 Nov 2022 02:28:43 GMTSource: CNNEditor's Note: Gavin J. Smith is a public relations professional and political strategist. He is CEO of Gavin James PubliOpinion by Gavin J. Smith
Updated: Wed, 16 Nov 2022 02:28:43 GMT
Editor's Note: Gavin J. Smith is a public relations professional and political strategist. He is CEO of Gavin James Public Affairs, a public relations and marketing consulting firm in Lexington, South Carolina. During the Trump administration, he was press secretary for the Department of Labor and deputy communications director for the Department of Health and Human Services. The views expressed here are their own. View more opinion on CNN.
In 2016, when I worked for Donald Trump, I campaigned with him in dozens of states across the country. At nearly every rally or fundraiser, he closed by declaring, "We're going to win so much. You're going to get sick and tired of winning."
It's unquestionable that the Trump administration, which I served in for two years, delivered a number of wins for the American people. Take, for example, its role in unleashing American ingenuity by rolling back burdensome regulations and signing the First Step Act, a major criminal justice reform bill, into law.
Despite these wins, it's become increasingly apparent that many Republicans are growing sick and tired of Trump -- and the losses his failed leadership has inflicted on the Republican Party in the last three election cycles.
The reality is that no matter how Trump and far-right Republicans try to spin it, our party's performance in the most recent election was entirely underwhelming -- and yet another referendum on the former President.
The expected "red wave" turned out to be anything but. And aside from likely squeaking by with a slim majority in the House, Republicans lost gubernatorial seats, secretary of state races and, most notably, control of the United States Senate.
Following this dismal performance, it's high time that we, as Republicans, engage in a period of introspection and reevaluate who we are as a party. We must reflect on what we stand for, and whether our party's standard bearer, who announced Tuesday that he is running for reelection again in 2024, is currently leading us forward, rather than backward.
More specifically, we must ask ourselves: Will we continue to be the party of divisiveness and conspiracy theories, dominated by the likes of Trump, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and failed-Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake? Or will the Republican Party finally part ways with them?
We must seize this moment, in which more and more Republicans seem to be uniting together in our opposition to the former President, and restore principled leaders who prioritize integrity and exercise moral fortitude. And we must recognize that we have a stacked bench of candidates who are highly skilled, fit to serve and palatable with the general electorate -- all of which Trump continues to prove time and time again he is not.
Make no mistake, if the Republican Party intends to win back the White House in 2024, and if we take seriously our desire to reclaim solid majorities in both chambers of Congress, we must not embrace another Trump reelection bid.
Instead, we must embrace a different leader who is capable of ushering in a new day for GOP politics by championing many of the traditional conservative policy positions -- such as lowering taxes and supporting a strong military -- which have come to define the party.
We must renew our commitment to these principles while also addressing a host of issues that are important to millennial and Gen Z voters, such as LGTBQ+ rights, racial equity and the environment. Recognizing this now is especially important, considering recent CNN exit polls found that a majority of millennial and Gen Z voters supported the Democratic Party in this year's midterms.
For too long, we have catered to the far right and strayed further away from being what former President Ronald Reagan once dubbed the "big tent" party. Considering the Republican base isn't getting any younger, it's high time we reevaluate our platform and more closely align it with the priorities of today's electorate.
While Trump may be the first to declare his presidential run, and while it remains unclear who will mount a challenge against him, after his victory in Florida last week, many view Gov. Ron DeSantis as a favorite to take on the former President. The Florida governor was propelled to victory by, among other things, making inroads with key demographic groups that typically favor Democrats, including Latino voters and White women.
Aside from DeSantis, who easily won his recent reelection bid but is regularly criticized by the left for his use of Trump-like inflammatory and divisive rhetoric, speculation is also swirling around former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who has significant experience in foreign policy and a staunch fiscal conservative.
Either of these candidates, along with Trump's former Vice President, Mike Pence, who is said to be considering a run for the presidency, could deliver on many of the fiscal policies in place under the Trump administration, while also restoring decency and a respect for the office that suffered under the former President.
Though it's too early to tell who else might declare, one thing is clear: This moment is ours. We can choose to move forward together unified as one party, or we can remain divided and beholden to one man who has proven time and time again that he will put his own interests ahead of the country's.
To my fellow Republicans and my former colleagues, it's time to do what's right. And to those who remain on the fence, I simply ask: Are you tired of losing yet?
Let's move on from Trump -- or rest assured we'll be having this same conversation in the days following the 2024 presidential election.