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The burst of early activity — which is set to accelerate over the summer months — illustrates how Republicans are maneuvering with an eye toward succeeding Trump. A Trump bid would likely extinguish their hopes of becoming the party’s nominee, and at least one candidate has said they won’t run if if Trump does. But would-be contenders are wasting no time preparing for the possibility of an open nominating contest.

During an interview following an Iowa Republican Party dinner here last week, former Republican Gov. Terry Branstad ticked off a list of recent and upcoming visitors to the state, ranging from South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott to former Vice President Mike Pence to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“What I tell any candidate, of either party: Come early, come often, get to know the people of Iowa,” said Branstad, who served a record six terms as the state’s governor. “We’re going to have a whole lot of people” come.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley became the latest potential candidate to make a pilgrimage to Iowa, embarking on a three-day trip last week that included speeches before the Story County Republican Party and the Iowa GOP’s Lincoln Dinner.

The first multi-candidate cattle-call is slated for next month, when Pence, Pompeo and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem are set to trek to Des Moines to address the Family Leadership Summit, a gathering that will draw evangelicals from across the state.

The early campaign schedule is being dominated by former Trump administration officials like Haley and Pompeo who, now lacking the platform that comes with holding public office, are using the trips to keep themselves in the spotlight. But sitting lawmakers are also beginning to make forays into Iowa: Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton is holding an event in Sioux Center next week and is also planning an August visit to the state. Florida Sen. Rick Scott has been to Iowa twice this year and is expected to return sometime this summer in his capacity as chair of the Senate GOP campaign arm. Tim Scott, meanwhile, attended an April fundraiser in Davenport.

Yet more outreach is taking place in private. Jeff Kaufmann, Iowa’s influential Republican Party chair, has met with several prospective candidates, including Haley, and has been advising hopefuls on what parts of the state they should visit. Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent Iowa social conservative who is hosting the Family Leadership Summit, has spoken with Pence, a longtime friend.

Cotton is seeking out another route to build alliances. The senator has taken on the role of campaign recruiter and is talking with potential challengers for the lone Democratic congressional district in Iowa. Cotton has also been in regular contact with several members of Iowa’s congressional delegation, including Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who in 2020 won the election by a razor-thin, six-vote margin.

Coinciding with his trip to Iowa this week, Cotton is set to launch a program aimed at bolstering military veterans such as Miller-Meeks. As part of the effort, the Arkansas Republican is expected to campaign for the freshman congresswoman, raise money for her and fund attack ads against her eventual Democratic opponent.

Some are even tapping political strategists to help them navigate the state. Pence has been working with Chip Saltsman, the GOP operative who helped oversee former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 caucus win. Pompeo is being advised by former U.S. Ambassador Chuck Larson, a past Iowa legislator and state GOP chair. The list of other operatives who’ve received outreach from prospective presidential hopefuls includes Jimmy Centers, a former top Branstad aide.

For now, the most visible political activity is organized around the 2022 midterm elections, with potential hopefuls using down-ballot contests to earn chits and introduce themselves to future caucus-goers. Those on the ground say Haley has been among the most aggressive in bolstering candidates, sending out emails and text messages raising money for Gov. Kim Reynolds and the state’s congressional delegation. Haley also campaigned for several Iowa lawmakers during the 2020 election.

“There’s a lot of room for people to work, raise money, fire up the base, and help candidates who need help,” said David Kochel, a veteran Iowa-based GOP strategist. “I would imagine it’s going to [be] busy here for the next couple of years before there’s more clarity about what 2024 looks like.”

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Some would-be candidates are already mixing in up-close-and-personal campaigning with the high-profile fundraisers and big party speeches. Pompeo has made a point of appearing at local gatherings and reaching out to grassroots organizations. This March, barely two months after leaving the State Department, Pompeo visited the Pottawattamie County Republican Party, met with the Urbandale-based Westside Conservative Club, and toured the headquarters of an agricultural equipment manufacturing company. The former Kansas congressman is planning to make similar local visits during an upcoming trip.

The strategy closely aligns with what’s become an article of faith: Iowans want to be courted.

“Iowans are very [discerning] voters, and they’re probably not going to make a decision until they’ve seen a candidate probably three or four times,” said Branstad, who has recently appeared alongside Haley and Pompeo at events.

“You’ve got to make a good impression — not just a first impression, you’ve got to make a good impression several times and build momentum over time,” added Branstad, who said he doesn’t yet have a preferred candidate.

And despite the early date, potential contenders are already facing tests. The Family Leadership Summit, for instance, could become an initial barometer of evangelical support in a state filled with social conservatives. Much of the focus is likely to be on Noem, who this spring antagonized religious conservatives when she vetoed a bill that would have barred transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams out of concern it would get struck down in the courts. Noem later signed a pair of executive orders imposing the ban.

Kaufmann, meanwhile, has been publicly pressing would-be candidates on whether they support maintaining Iowa’s prized first-in-the-nation status. With Democrats openly weighing whether to alter their calendar following a chaotic 2020 caucus, some Iowa Republicans have expressed concerns they, too, will be dislodged. Although the odds of that happening appear remote — the Republican National Committee largely controls the nomination calendar and hasn’t made any indication it wants a change — that didn’t stop Kaufmann from asking Haley at the Lincoln Dinner whether she believed Iowa should remain first.

The former South Carolina governor responded she was “fine” with it — as long as her home state retained its status as the first southern state to cast its ballots. The remark drew laughter from the 500-person audience that had packed into West Des Moines’ cavernous Ron Pearson Center.

At least one Republican, however, is purposely avoiding the state. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has drawn widespread national interest from conservatives, doesn’t have any trips to Iowa planned out of concern that it will further stoke speculation he’s prepping a 2024 bid. DeSantis allies say they’re focused squarely on his 2022 reelection effort and view talk of a presidential campaign as an unwelcome distraction.

And of course, overshadowing the early maneuvering is Trump.

Should the former president mount a comeback, it’s possible that many of the Iowa visitors won’t end up pursuing presidential bids. Kaufmann, who noted that he had invited Trump to the state, said he had “zero doubt that these candidates will rally around him” if Trump runs.

Others, however, see the reception the prospective Trump successors are getting as a sign the party may be willing to move on from the former president.

“I think you’re seeing conservatives look kind of beyond President Trump, and not because they’re upset at all about what he did, I think they’re just looking at who else might be out there for 2024,” said Vander Plaats. “And so that’s what I think makes this environment very intriguing.”

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Donald Trump

Mary Trump hints on Trump Running For President In 2024

“…Donald gets the message that if he runs, he can’t lose…”

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Mary Trump has changed her tune about the possibility of her uncle, Donald Trump, running for president again in 2024.

Trump’s niece – one of his most vocal critics – has repeatedly cast doubt on the idea. But two things now point to a possible run, she told MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell on Tuesday.

“I thought that (he wouldn’t run again) for a long time because he lost so badly to Joe Biden that I didn’t think that he’d ever want to put himself in a position of losing again,” said Mary Trump.

“And I think that would have been the case, if not for two things,” she continued.

Trump said her uncle “still seems to be getting away with everything, right?”

Second, the GOP “is trying to engineer a system in which the minority can come into power, because of all of these… voter suppression bills that are being passed in every single state,” she said.

“So, If they are successful in… rigging the system even more in their favor and Donald gets the message that if he runs, he can’t lose… then I’m not so sure and that’s pretty depressing,” she added.

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Donald Trump

Trump’s Ohio Candidate Wins Republican Primary Election

“Tonight, Republicans across Ohio’s 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that President Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the leader of our party,” Carey said in a statement.

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A candidate endorsed by Donald Trump won a special Republican primary race for a U.S. House seat in Ohio on Tuesday, bolstering the former president’s efforts to steer election outcomes heading into the 2022 congressional races.

Coal industry consultant and lobbyist Mike Carey defeated 10 other candidates in a crowded GOP primary to replace former Representative Steve Stivers, who resigned in May to lead the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, according to results from The Associated Press. Carey will now face state Representative Allison Russo, who won the Democratic primary, in the Nov. 2 special general election to fill the seat.

In a special Democratic primary for another open congressional seat in Ohio that became a proxy fight between the party’s progressive and centrist wings over support for President Joe Biden, establishment-backed Shontel Brown defeated Nina Turner and 11 other candidates, according to the Associated Press.

Carey’s victory comes a week after Susan Wright, whom Trump endorsed to replace her late husband, former U.S. Representative Ron Wright, lost a runoff election in Texas to Republican state Representative Jake Ellzey. Trump has regularly said that almost every candidate he supports wins easily and that his endorsement is the most powerful and sought-after in politics.

Another Trump-backed candidate losing in consecutive weeks would have prompted questions about the former president’s political operation and ability to influence 2022 midterm election races, as well as his grip on the Republican Party as he holds out the prospect of running again for president in 2024.

“Tonight, Republicans across Ohio’s 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that President Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the leader of our party,” Carey said in a statement.

In the special Democratic primary to replace Marcia Fudge, who resigned in March to become Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary, Brown, a Cuyahoga County councilwoman and Democratic chairwoman, topped Turner, who was a national co-chair of Senator Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. Brown will face Republican nominee Laverne Gore in the Nov. 2 special general election, but the Cleveland-area district is solidly Democratic.

Turner had the backing of Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while Brown was supported by establishment Democrats such as 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina, whose endorsement of Biden helped him win the party’s nomination.

Brown build an early lead with the absentee and in-person votes cast before Tuesday and held off Turner’s support with votes cast on Tuesday, according to unofficial totals reported by AP. Spending for television and radio ads by Brown and outside groups supporting her in the final eight days before the primary topped that for Turner, according to Medium Buying, a firm that tracks ad spending.

In the Republican primary for Stivers’ seat, Trump joined a tele-rally for Carey, a consultant at American Consolidated Natural Resources Inc. and past president of the Ohio Coal Associati on, on July 20 and again on Monday night, and a Trump-based super PAC reported spending more than $417,000 on TV and digital ads, text messaging and emailing in a last-minute push for Carey, according to documents filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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“A lot of people are watching this one, it’s a big deal. So please get out and vote for Mike Carey,” Trump said on Monday. In a statement after Carey’s victory on Tuesday, Trump called it a “great Republican win” for Carey and said “thank you to Ohio and all of our wonderful American patriots.”The latest in global politicsGet insight from reporters around the world in the Balance of Power newsletter.EmailSign UpBloomberg may send me offers and promotions.

There were other prominent GOP endorsements competing with Trump’s. Stivers backed Ohio Representative Jeff LaRe and aired campaign ads for him; Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and his affiliated super PAC supported former state Representative Ron Hood; the Republican organization of Franklin County, which includes Columbus, endorsed state Senator Stephanie Kunze; and Ruth Edmonds had the backing of the Right Women PAC led by Debbie Meadows, wife of former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Bob Peterson, a farmer who has represented parts of the district as a state senator, touted endorsements from 150 local GOP leaders and Ohio Right to Life.

The sprawling district encompasses all or parts of 12 counties and includes Columbus suburbs and parts of rural Appalachia. Trump carried the solidly Republican-leaning district with 57% of the vote in 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government.

Carey won 37% of the vote unofficially with 96% of precincts reporting, according to AP, easily topping Hood, Peterson and LaRe, who all had about 13% in an August race with low turnout. Carey was on track to win all but one of the counties in the district.

Before Tuesday’s primary, Carey had cited a June poll of likely GOP primary voters by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio that showed his support jumped from 20% to 52% when voters were told about Trump’s endorsement.

“When people know that President Trump has endorsed me, they’re going to vote for me,” Carey said.

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Rep. Waltz slams Biden for withdrawing troops from Afghanistan while Navy veteran remains Taliban hostage

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Florida Rep. Michael Waltz slammed the Biden administration on Tuesday for giving away all “leverage” by pulling American troops from Afghanistan while Navy veteran Mark Frerichs remains a Taliban hostage. 

Waltz, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee and is a Green Beret veteran of the war in Afghanistan, stressed that he’s growing more concerned about Frerichs being left behind as the U.S. moves to withdraw its military from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. 

Mark Frerichs is a contractor from Lombard, Illinois, who is believed to have been held for more than a year by the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network. Frerichs, a former Navy diver, was living in Kabul for a decade working on construction projects as an engineer when he was abducted, the Washington post reported. 

“The last American troops have pretty much gone home and the Biden administration has given away all of our leverage,” Waltz, R-Fla., told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. 

“The thing the Taliban wanted the most, and they’ve been asking for it for 20 years, is for American troops to leave.” 

Waltz then noted that the troop withdrawal was not conditioned on Frerichs’ release from custody, which is fueling concerns that the U.S. could lose bargaining power to get him home once its military presence is removed.

“You would have thought before President Biden just yanked everyone out, and we’re seeing the collapse that’s happening now in Afghanistan as we speak, they at least could have gotten one American in exchange,” Waltz stressed. 

Taliban forces are reportedly gaining momentum, pushing the Afghanistan government’s forces out of several districts and taking control of various weapons and military vehicles in the process, while the U.S. withdraws from the country.

U.S. Central Command announced last month that the drawdown is more than 90% complete and handed over seven facilities to the Afghan military. 

The deterioration of the situation on the ground and the resurgence of the Taliban comes nearly 20 years after the U.S. and international forces entered Afghanistan to oust the Taliban, which had harbored Usama bin Laden. 

President Joe Biden’s plan is to fully withdraw from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, on the 20th anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S. planned by bin Laden that led to the lengthy war.

A White House spokesperson did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment. However, the Associated press reported that the Biden administration has said it regards the return of hostages to be a top priority.

For Frerichs’ family, the failure to make his return a factor in the withdrawal of troops is a source of frustration, as is the fact that the Trump administration signed a peace deal in February 2020, just weeks after Frerichs disappeared in Afghanistan while working on engineering projects in the country.

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His sister, Charlene Cakora, reportedly said in a statement in April that the military withdrawal “puts a time stamp on Mark.” 

“My heart breaks for the family,” Waltz said on Tuesday. “You can imagine as they saw that announcement how they felt and their frustration and mine too.” 

He added that he had learned that Frerichs’ family “has repeatedly asked to see President Biden to make their case personally and have been declined.” 

Frerichs’ home-state senators, Illinois Democrats Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, had raised concerns about Frerichs’ situation in a letter to the president earlier this year.

Waltz said “it’s incredibly frustrating” that if Frerichs is located, U.S. helicopters, drones and special forces may not be readily available for a rescue mission. 

The U.S. has not disclosed much about Frerichs’ status, but confirmed in April that active discussions with the Taliban were taking place, according to the Associated Press. 

State Department spokesman Ned Price reportedly said in a statement that U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is working closely with Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, “has continued to press the Taliban for Mr. Frerichs’ release, and continues to raise his status in senior level engagements in Doha and Islamabad.” 

“We place a high priority on Mark Frerichs’ safety and will not stop working until he is safely returned to his family,” the statement continued. 

Sorce : Fox News

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