Dick Morris: Trump Shepherds His MAGA Flock from Purity to Maturity

Dick Morris: Trump Shepherds His MAGA Flock from Purity to Maturity

President Donald Trump has accomplished a revolution of which few leaders are capable: He has led his MAGA followers from purity and defeat to maturity and power.

In his takeover of the GOP Senate delegation — signaled by his successful efforts to hasten Mitch McConnell’s retirement — he has infused the ranks of his most zealous supporters with a new understanding of power and how to get it.

In 2022, the watchword in MAGA was purity. Candidates were evaluated according to litmus tests of ideological fidelity. Wary of Republicans who go to Washington, grow a horn and turn RINO, GOP voters and leaders embraced the likes of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Oz and Georgia’s Herschel Walker — ideologically pure but politically inept.

Now there is a new team in town — the tandem of Montana Sen. Steve Daines and President Trump.

Daines, the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, has brought a new wisdom and acuity to the job of running the Republican campaign for the Senate in 2024.

The new watchword is electability. Sacrificial lambs need not apply.

Harking back to the bare-knuckle tactics of legislative leaders like Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson, Daines has promoted winners and told losers to, well, get lost.

But the weapon behind Daines’ leadership is Donald Trump’s endorsement.

Trump is so dominant and popular with the MAGA base that his word alone can make or break candidates. But in 2022, Trump often bestowed his endorsement on candidates with whom he empathized but who couldn’t win.

Daines is the perfect complement to Trump. They both have been burned by unelectable candidates and share a new pragmatic determination to endorse winners. In state after state, the duo are working together, with Daines winnowing the field while Trump enforces discipline with his endorsement.

The Montana Senate race exemplifies how these two lions hunt together.

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Republicans found a superstar candidate in Tim Sheehy, a Purple Heart, Bronze Star combat veteran, but his path to the nomination against Jon Tester, a longtime Democratic senator, was blocked by Rep. Matt Rosendale, the at-large congressman for Montana.

Rosendale had taken on Tester in 2018, losing by 6 points even though Trump had carried Montana by 20 points.

Daines realized that he needed to sweep Rosendale aside and deployed the big man — Donald Trump — to do so in dramatic fashion. Hours after Rosendale announced his Senate candidacy, Trump swooped in and endorsed Sheehy, calling him an “American Hero.”

Rather than criticize Rosendale, Trump publicly urged him to run again for Congress, saying, “I also respect Matt Rosendale, and was very happy to Endorse him in the past — and will Endorse him again in the future should he decide to change course and run for his Congressional Seat.”

Oops! Rosendale withdrew from the Senate race, took Trump’s hint and declared his candidacy for re-election to Congress. Now Sheehy has every prospect of beating Tester.

In Arizona, Republicans were reluctant to rally in support of their defeated 2022 gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake. But Daines made clear that the party was backing Lake and, using Trump’s endorsement as a cudgel, forced Republican Blake Masters, who was also considering entering the race, to follow Rosendale’s path and run instead for Congress.

In Nevada too, Daines is clearing the GOP field to make way for Sam Brown, a former Army captain whose face was shredded by an Iraqi roadside bomb. Brown, initially reluctant to back Trump, came around to support the former president in Nevada’s primary.

But Daines’ magical performance was in inducing Maryland’s two-term RINO governor, Larry Hogan, to run for Senate in one of the bluest states in the union. Now the GOP’s likely candidate — Hogan — holds a 10-point lead in the general election. A steal for Senate Republicans.

The Trump-Daines combo is the new game in town, and it has every promise of delivering a Senate majority to President Trump.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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