“This is all about the Trump circle of grift,” mentioned former Representative Barbara Comstock of Virginia, who’s shut to a different high-profile Republican — and a frequent goal of Mr. Trump’s — who was additionally notably absent: Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
Ms. Comstock mentioned that the Republicans retaining their distance have been clever to “build their own coalitions” and “not get sucked into Trumpism, which has a limited and short-term appeal with demographics dying in this country.”
Henry Barbour, an influential R.N.C. member from Mississippi, mentioned that the occasion was nonetheless in a transitional part since Mr. Trump’s loss.
“When you lose the White House, you kind of figure it’s going to take a little bit of healing, and I think probably first quarter has hopefully got us moving on a better path,” Mr. Barbour mentioned. Mr. Trump, he mentioned, is a “big force in the party, but the party is bigger than any one candidate including Donald Trump.”
With Mr. Trump’s priorities differing from these of different occasion leaders, the stress stays palpable. On Friday, the tremendous PAC for Senate Republicans, which is aligned with Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, introduced its backing of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, who infuriated Mr. Trump by voting to question him. (Some Trump 2020 advisers are working for Ms. Murkowski’s Republican challenger, Kelly Tshibaka.)
Last month, Mr. McConnell privately boasted of the tremendous PAC’s fund-raising in a meeting with Senate Republicans, bragging that it had raised greater than Mr. Trump’s tremendous PAC had in 2020. He even distributed a card to hammer residence the purpose: “In three cycles: nearly $1 billion,” the cardboard mentioned. Below that have been Mr. Trump’s tremendous PAC statistics: “Trump: $148+ million,” referring to the group America First.
But the Republican small donor base stays very a lot enamored with Mr. Trump.
“He’ll still be the most significant figure in the party in November 2022,” predicted Al Cardenas, a former chairman of the Florida Republican Party and former chairman of the American Conservative Union. “Everybody has a shelf life and Donald Trump has lost a bit of his shelf life.”
“It could be two years,” Mr. Cardenas added. “It could be 10.”