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BY MAX BURNS, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR – 06/23/22 9:30 AM ET
After the better part of a decade wielding a political brand as untouchable as any in memory, former President Trump is now experiencing a strange feeling: of abandonment. In races large and small unfolding in states across the country, the same Republican candidates who months ago clamored for Trump’s endorsement are now in a race to toss the former president overboard.
It isn’t hard to see why. In an electorate with plenty of tailwinds for Republicans – President Biden’s struggles with inflation and a rightward shift of critical Hispanic voters, to name just two – Trump remains one of the most disliked politicians in America. An Economist/YouGov poll released last week found a majority of Americans disapprove of Trump, and a RealClearPolitics trend map shows Trump’s popularity problem is getting worse over time.
It’s no coincidence that Trump’s unfavorability ratings are spiking in June, as the Jan. 6 committee blankets the media with shocking stories of just how closely Trump stage-managed last year’s attempt to overturn a free and fair election. And it’s clear Americans are listening: More than 20 million Americans tuned in to the first week of hearings. As
Trump would say, the ratings have been yuge.
Republicans who were more than willing to accept Trump’s primary endorsement are now understandably nervous about linking their political fortunes to a potential insurrection leader. Even some of Trump’s personal favorites are beginning to jump ship: On Wednesday, Axios’ Andrew Solender reported that Pennsylvania Senate candidate Mehmet Oz had unceremoniously stripped Trump’s name and image from his website. Solender also found that Oz’s social media, which mentioned Trump more than 70 times between his endorsement and primary day, hasn’t been eager to tout their connection during the heat of the Jan. 6 committee hearings.
The purge went as far as dropping the idea that Trump ever endorsed Oz. “Oz’s Twitter bio no longer advertised him as the ‘Trump Endorsed Candidate for U.S. Senate,’” Solender reports. “[Oz] hasn’t tweeted about Trump since May 17,” over a month ago. And on the Trump-owned social network Truth Social, where Oz maintains an account, Solender notes that Oz’s once-frequent mentions of Trump have abruptly come to a halt.
Trump’s problem isn’t limited to Pennsylvania. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely regarded as Trump’s most formidable 2024 primary opponent, announced he wouldn’t even bother asking for Trump’s endorsement for his reelection bid. Declining to seek an endorsement is one thing, but DeSantis’s decision to publicize his move also sends a clear message to Trump: Who needs you?