Donald Trump is a divisive figure even within his own party, yet he holds a massive lead amongst GOP voters. People are discussing what the other GOP candidates could say to gain ground on the former President.
Note: Some quotes in this piece have been lightly edited for grammar.
Use His Playbook
Many people think using Trump’s own strategy against him is the best bet. They say calling Trump a loser could have a favorable effect. “‘Loser’ is an emotional word,” one person said. “It’s a judgment. And it’s an us vs. them term. All of those are key points that Trump’s fascinated audience likes to hear.”
Others think that clever namecalling pointed in Trump’s direction could help GOP candidates. As one person said, “Trump likes to give people nicknames, and it is incredibly effective.” Names like “Crooked Hillary” and “Sleepy Joe Biden” were popular amongst Trump voters.
But Do It Well
However, a poor attempt at name-calling could have the opposite effect. Many people pointed out Chris Christie’s “Donald Duck” jab didn’t work well. “If you’re going to attack Trump,” one person said, “you must speak his language and get out with it. The ‘Donald Duck’ jab was pitiful.”
Alienate the Audience
Still, others say that while Trump supporters enjoy name-calling and clever jabs, such tactics alienate many voters. Resorting to calling Trump a loser might win over his fans, but it could turn a candidate’s audience against them.
Wear Their Shoes
A few commentators said GOP candidates should put themselves in Republican voters’ shoes. As one person said, they should ask, “Why would someone love Trump? What makes them happy about him? What does he do to help them? What makes him a great leader and icon for them?”
Others thought there was no one answer to beating Trump in the primaries. “People are acting like there’s this one magic trick to stopping Trump,” one said. “Not really. He’s got a certain and very effective form of charisma that seems tailor-made to generate significant loyalty from a big chunk of the GOP base.”
Still, a few people said that a solid front from the Republican party could knock Trump out of the race. “I really think if the entire Republican field started saying he’s a loser in unison, it would move the needle,” one person said.
One person said a solid discussion of Trump’s policy could help GOP candidates. “This might sound crazy,” they said. “But, challenge Trump on policy. If Republican candidates would come up with things like abortion rights and vaccines – things that Trump is relatively accepting of – said candidate could pry away some evangelical and conspiratorial voters.”
Speak To Middle America
Another person thought that GOP candidates needed to resonate more with middle Americans. “You will beat Trump in the GOP by being a better speaker and talking to middle America, which feels neglected economically,” they said.
Agree in Part
Yet another commenter thought that GOP candidates should highlight where they agree with Trump and where they don’t. “I think the best thing they can say is I am a Republican and stand behind some of his values, but I don’t believe in overthrowing the government to get my way,” they said.
Problems on Display
Others thought that pointing out Trump’s mistakes was the best route. One person suggested saying, “Under his [Trump’s] leadership, we became less fiscally conservative, adding more debt than any Republican has ever added, we lost jobs, we lost seats in the House and Senate, and lost the presidency.”
Call Out Privilege
Maybe reminding voters that Trump isn’t one of them would work, another commenter thought. As they put it, “What might work better would be to run as a better populist. Voters know he’s rich (ish) and has led a life of privilege; call that out!”
Other people said that GOP candidates needed to show Trump doesn’t fit standard Republican values. One person said they should highlight “his criticism of the military and January 6th,” which are “antithetical to conservative values.”
A few others thought the only way to pull support from Trump was to take a more extreme position. “I would run to the right of Trump, to be honest,” one person said. “Pledge to run against the ‘woke’ like DeSantis but lean totally into it.”
Nothing To Be Done
However, the vast majority of people thought there was nothing a GOP candidate could do to beat Trump in the primary. “There’s no argument they can use,” one person said. “Trump is way too ahead in the polls for anyone to be able to overcome his lead, even if they all joined forces.”
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