This report is an update and continuation of the “GOP Leadership Report 2022” with additional news and commentary for 2023. More content will be added to this report in the months ahead.
Update: 27 Aug 2023
There continues to be a tug of war over the tone, values, and temperament of the Republican Party. The rise of Vivek Ramaswamy offered a promising middle path of meaningful concessions to Trump and his supporters, while at the same time providing an impactful unifying cordiality toward all Republicans. Vivek was being warmly received by news media on the left and right. He also seemed to have the admiration of candidates he’s competing with in the Republican Primary. He seemed to be capable of a general election win. Vivek consistently demonstrated respectful dialog with everyone, and unifying civility became a core campaign promise. He seemed to have the potential to rise as a leader with broad support.
Unfortunately, during the first Republican debate on August 23, with regard to respectful unifying cordiality, Vivek was shockingly out of character, insulting his party colleagues multiple times. He also demonstrated an inability to follow simple debate rules and common social graces. He could have offered respectful praise of his party opponents and still come out way ahead as a winner of the debate and the respect of the older generation of party leaders. Instead, he quickly burned through just about all of his very valuable goodwill equity in exchange for making some jabs at others. There’s another debate in September which will help clarify Vivek’s ability to improve or inability to break free from his shortcomings.
At present, the Republican candidates exemplifying stable unifying respectful leadership for the party are: Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, and Tim Scott. There are some cordial moderate candidates, but they are unlikely to get traction across the entire party base.
Here are some links to related reports and resources.
- Asa Hutchinson Report 2023 [View]
- Francis Suarez Report 2023 [View]
- Mike Pence Report 2023 [View]
- Nikki Haley Report 2023 [View]
- Vivek Ramaswamy Report 2023 [View]
- What Vivek Got Wrong – Aug 2023 [View]
Reset or Rebrand
As was discussed in the 2022 report, the Republican Party is at a point of decision — trying to choose whether to reset to the pre-Trump era of the party, or rebrand under the leadership of Trump and those loyal to him. This document explores the possible reset and rebrand themes, and then offers some current related news.
The rebranding transition has already begun. Long-time leaders of the party have had their character attacked and careers ended as a result of not supporting Trump. Generals and other military members with long careers of serving the country have been dismissed and described as traitors for not supporting Trump. This authoritarian climate is what some describe as “strong leadership.” The erratic and unpredictable hiring and firing decisions of Trump appeal to some supporters who feel his loose-cannon style of leadership helps maintain fear in his organization.
Supporters of Trump value his ability to upset members of the Democratic Party. In that regard, he is an agent of disruption causing depression, sadness, anxiety, fatigue, and other conditions, which all erode the Democratic Party impact. This is also why any lies, gaffes, ethical failings, and even criminal charges simply strengthen Trump’s ability to upset the opposition. They simultaneously make him more relatable to those who support him. Throughout history there has always been a kind of celebrity status assigned to famous outlaws. [Examples] Trump has that type of reputation and the admiration of his followers.
Critics of Trump might describe him as a lying unstable narcissistic sociopath and charismatic cult leader who fosters domestic terrorism and national conflict. These seemingly negative traits are seen as positive by supporters.
The convenience and power of a candidate like Trump is that there are no surprises. You know what you’re getting at the outset. There are no unexpected scandals that will cause a drop in his popularity. The scandals are actually expected. It’s sort of like choosing your favorite professional wrestler. You don’t care if he’s vulgar, cheats, gets into a scandal, or whatever. You just want him to win.
Some people in the Republican Party are not enthusiastic about Trump and Trumpism. They acknowledge the short-term gains, but are concerned about the long-term demise of the party or departure from its foundational principles and values.
George W. Bush is credited with bringing about a refinement to the traditional stern image of conservatism. He called it Compassionate Conservatism. This happened at a time when conservatives were criticized as being too judgmental, harsh, and cruel.
Bush attempted to repackage “traditional values” without the harshness. He hired the first woman of color Secretary of State. He was the first President in U.S. history to light a menorah in the White House. Inspired by the Cousteau Society, he established one of the largest habitat preserves in history. He achieved what might be considered ‘liberal’ outcomes that predecessors of either party had not accomplished.
This is significant because it was a landmark in the evolutionary history of conservatism.
Out of that movement came a fresh conservative mindset and attitude often conveyed by leaders who would state that they were “conservative but not angry about it.” Mike Huckabee, Adam Putnam, Mike Pence, and others have used that phrase. It was such an unexpected declaration because previously conservatives were expected to be angry — think of the shouting conservative daytime radio talk show hosts or preachers yelling from the pulpit about damnation. It was a new mellow conservatism.
So, when one talks about a GOP Reset, it’s assumed that the evolution from the Reagan era to the Bush era would continue to become something ‘better’ by some measure going forward. A GOP Reset would be like taking a Windows computer back to before the most recent update that caused the system to crash.
There are still some examples of conservative leaders that have held on to the traditional foundations of conservatism. You might choose to live differently than they do, but you’d still trust and respect them. Whereas some people feel the present-day mutation of conservatism is a bit scary.
Democracy at a Crossroads
Democracy is at a crossroads. We’ve seen militia groups and disruptive activists trying to take control and have influence through threats of violence. Politicians are at risk of being kidnapped or attacked in their homes.
In the future we could end up with a democracy of violence where domestic terrorism organizations function like loosely affiliated well-funded heavily-armed gangs. Elections would be won by those who have the most threatening supporters, not those who are the most ethical or best leaders.
Instead of corporations controlling elections, it would be militia groups controlling election outcomes through intimidation.
Traditionalists would assert that we’re all better off when our governments and administrative agencies are of the people, by the people, and for the people — not of, by, and for the militia groups.
Concerns about New Conservatism
Some concerns by those on the left are expressed in the video commentary below from SE CUPP, and they also are shared by a minority of conservative Republicans. [Source] Some of the Republican primary candidates are correcting course based on these concerns.
Below are related news stories with the most current at the top.
The conservative and liberal mainstream media will daily be flooded with the latest sensational news and scandals about Trump as well as DeSantis — each network defending or criticizing over the next year depending on their bias.
So, this page will not be repeating what is readily available elsewhere. Instead, the focus here will be stories on the subtle back story of the Republican Party. Presented here will be the minority perspective, from within the party, of those who want to improve and build-upon traditional conservatism.
Note: CNN and NBC have had a reboot and are now positioned right of center on the news — this is important to know for those who might otherwise be confused by the change in coverage, now with softball questions and enthusiastic applauding packed studio audiences when guests are right-leaning.
Forbes (26 Aug 2023)
“Why Everyone Did Well Except Vivek Ramaswamy At First Republican Presidential Primary Debate: Prof” — Professor Charles Lipson joins “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss the GOP debate and why he thinks Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t do well. [Source]
MSNBC (24 Aug 2023)
“Vivek channels Trump, DeSantis bombs: Brian Tyler Cohen on Republican debate” — Brian Tyler Cohen shares his thoughts the winners and losers and liars of the Republican presidential debate, focusing on Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. [Source]
PBS (24 Aug 2023)
“Breaking down the Republican debate and where the candidates stand with voters” — Donald Trump’s legal issues were one of the many topics featured in the first Republican presidential debate, even though the former president skipped it. Eight other candidates took the stage in hopes of establishing themselves as viable contenders for the nomination. Lisa Desjardins recaps the event and discusses it with Geoff Bennett and Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report with Amy Walter. [Source]
CBS News (18 Aug 2023)
“GOP presidential hopefuls attend ‘The Gathering’ in Atlanta” — Several Republican presidential hopefuls are in Atlanta to take part in “The Gathering,” a yearly event held by radio host Erick Erickson featuring conservative political leaders. [Source]
CBS News (16 Aug 2023)
“Iowa State Fair marks unofficial start of 2024 campaign season” — GOP hopefuls round up to impress Iowa State Fair; GOP voice support and criticism for indicted Trump. [Source]
ABC WMUR (13 Aug 2023)
“GOP candidate reacts to report Trump’s legal team breached Georgia voting systems” — Republican presidential nominee Will Hurd talks with Jake Tapper about CNN’s reporting that former President Donald Trump’s team breached voting systems in January, 2021. [Source]
ABC WMUR (6 Aug 2023)
“Ramaswamy defends Trump but wants to ‘move forward’ ” — [Source]
CBS News (6 Aug 2023)
“Pence disputes Trump team’s characterization of lead-up to Jan. 6” — Former Vice President Mike Pence refuted the notion that former President Donald Trump only asked him to delay the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021, to allow for audits of state election results, disputing the characterization of their interactions made by some members of Trump’s legal team. [Source]
CNN News (6 Aug 2023)
“Pence on Trump: Our country is more important than any one man” — GOP presidential candidate and former Vice President Mike Pence tells CNN’s Dana Bash that he had no right to overturn the election. [Source]
The Gazette (6 Aug 2023)
“Vivek Ramaswamy’s full remarks at Ashley Hinson’s BBQ” — Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy spoke at congresswoman Ashley Hinson’s 3rd annual BBQ Bash on Sunday, August 6, 2023 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. [Source]
CBS News (4 Aug 2023)
“Vivek Ramaswamy | Full Episode 8.4.23 | Firing Line with Margaret Hoover” — Entrepreneur and GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy discusses his critique of woke capitalism, his plan to eliminate federal agencies, his opposition to U.S. military support for Ukraine and why he believes America needs a political outsider. [Source]
CBS News (30 Jul 2023)
“Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley on Face the Nation” — Watch the full version of Margaret Brennan’s interview with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley that aired on July 30, 2023. [Source]
NBC News (21 Jul 2023)
“‘No going back’ for Republicans if Trump becomes nominee while in classified document trial” — Eugene Daniels, Chuck Rocha and Barbara Comstock join the Meet the Press NOW roundtable to discuss former President Trump’s legal troubles after an official date was set for his classified documents trial and the state of the Republican field. [Source]
MSNBC (13 Jun 2023)
The first few minutes of this video provide highlights from a town hall with Chris Christie on 12 Jun 2023. The remainder of the video is commentary.
“Chris Christie weighs in on indictment, saying Trump’s actions are ‘ego run amuck'” — Republican presidential candidate, former NJ Gov. Chris Christie, spoke about the Trump indictment Monday evening during a CNN town hall, saying Trump’s actions are ‘ego run amuck’. The Morning Joe panel discusses. [Source]
PBS (9 Jun 2023)
“Chris Christie | Full Episode 6.9.23 | Firing Line with Margaret Hoover” — Chris Christie discusses his newly launched 2024 presidential bid and why he’s taking direct aim at his former friend and boss Donald Trump. He says the DOJ must indict Trump if they have evidence of crimes in the classified documents investigation. [Source]
MSNBC (7 Jun 2023)
“Gov. Newsom is calling out ‘abhorrent’ moves by DeSantis” — California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to launch an investigation into flights of migrants flown to Sacramento — which were orchestrated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — saying he believes it’s clear a crime was committed. Newsom spoke with TODAY’s Jacob Soboroff in an exclusive interview airing Thursday morning. [Source]
CNN (5 Jun 2023)
“Nikki Haley CNN Town Hall” [Source]
Forbes (5 Jun 2023)
“Pence on Jan. 6: ‘I had no right to overturn the election'” — Former Vice President Mike Pence discussed his decision not to oppose the certification of the 2020 election on January 6 during his 2024 presidential campaign launch event in Iowa. [Source]
Forbes (5 Jun 2023)
“Vivek Ramaswamy Goes Off On ‘Secular Cult’ Of Identity Politics In Speech To Iowa Voters” — On Saturday, 2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy spoke at “Joni’s Roast and Ride” about identity politics. [Source]
The View (5 Jun 2023)
“Sen. Tim Scott On If Republicans Have Gone Too Far With Some Bans” — “If they don’t like what’s happening with a corporation, stop shopping there,” the Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina senator tells “The View” co-hosts. [Source]
“Sen. Tim Scott On If He Believes There Is Systemic Racism In America” — “Both sides of the aisle can do a better job on the issue of race,” the Republican presidential candidate tells “The View” co-hosts. [Source]
CNN (22 May 2023)
“Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, enters the 2024 GOP primary” — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott formally entered the Republican presidential primary as he seeks to upend a contest that has so far been dominated by coverage of former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to enter the fray in the coming days. [Source]
MSNBC (20 May 2023)
“2024 race heats up as more Republicans ready campaigns” — The Republican field for president is becoming a little more crowded. David Jolly and Michael Steele join Jonathan Capehart to discuss how the race for the White House is starting to shape up. [Source]
NPR (19 May 2023)
“Our Interview With GOP Presidential Hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy” — Vivek Ramaswamy is a 37 year-old investor and pharmaceutical entrepreneur who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination. A self-described nationalist, he says he can expand Donald Trump’s America First message to a wider audience. This episode: political correspondent Susan Davis and White House correspondent Asma Khalid. The podcast is produced by Elena Moore and Casey Morell. Our editor is Eric McDaniel. Our executive producer is Muthoni Muturi. [Source]
NBC News (10 May 2023)
“Full Interview: Mike Pence sidesteps whether Trump fit to serve after E. Jean Carroll verdict” — Warning: This video contains graphic language. NBC News Correspondent Dasha Burns sits down with former Vice President Mike Pence to discuss his timeline for discussing a 2024 presidential campaign and his reaction to a N.Y. jury finding former President Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation. [View]
Hillsdale College (4 May 2023)
“The 2020 Election and Future Elections” — This speech was given on February 21, 2023, during a Hillsdale College National Leadership Seminar, “America’s Uncertain Future.” [View]
NBC News (30 Apr 2023)
“Full Ramaswamy: GOP has to ‘be the party of free speech and open debate’” — In an exclusive interview with Meet the Press, 2024 GOP presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy discusses his campaign’s agenda on cancel culture, transgender issues, abortion rights and more. [View]
NBC News (30 Mar 2023)
“Full 2024 candidate Ramaswamy: ‘What we really need is a courageous leader,’ not Trump or DeSantis” — Republican Vivek Ramaswamy joins Meet the Press NOW to detail his run for president, and talks about his pledge to end affirmative action and promote states’ control over abortion laws. [View]
WCPO 9 (14 Mar 2023)
“Presidential Candidate Vivek Ramaswamy: America has an identity crisis” — Ramaswamy says America has gotten away from being able to have open dialogues about tough issues and from being a meritocracy. [Source]
CNN (12 Mar 2023)
“Collins presses GOP 2024 hopeful on his definition of woke” — GOP 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy joins CNN’s Kaitlan Collins to discuss his definition of “woke” and how he’s “anti-woke” in his bid for presidency. [View]
ABC News (19 Mar 2023)
“One-on-one with former Vice President Mike Pence” — “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl sits down with former Vice President Mike Pence for an exclusive interview in Des Moines, Iowa. [View]
Vivek Ramaswamy (21 Feb 2023)
Hillsdale (16 Feb 2023)
“An American Identity Crisis” — Author, Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence [Source]
The video clip below from 12 March 2016 is significant as a commentary on the rise of violence in politics fueled by some leaders in the Republican Party.