Government

Kristol: 'Reluctant' Republicans open to Trump challenge in 2020

William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard
William Kristol, Editor, The Weekly Standard

CEDAR RAPIDS — Wednesday’s forecast of 50-plus degrees and sunshine is welcome news for conservative commentator William Kristol, who will speak at Cornell College that evening.

“I’m so used to being there in January” for the first-in-the-nation precinct caucuses “that I can’t imagine spring in Iowa,” the editor of the Weekly Standard said in a recent interview.

Kristol, perhaps the leading voice of anti-Trump conservatives, plans to discuss “American Politics in the Age of Trump” at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Youngker Hall’s Kimmel Theatre at Cornell College in Mount Vernon. Tickets no longer are available.

President Donald Trump won’t be the focus of his Roe Howard Freedom Lecture, which is free and open to the public, but talking about politics in Iowa — “how challenging it is and how fluid it is” — means talking about Trump, he conceded.

“We were all surprised in 2016,” Kristol said, and despite the tendency to think everything will revert to normal in 2020, he’s not sure that will be the case.

It’s a “less hopeless endeavor” than people might think now that Trump will face a GOP challenger in two years, according to Kristol, who is encouraging others to consider challenging the president.

“Recruiting is probably too strong of a word. I’m talking to a lot of people, encouraging them to keep their minds open, whether they are thinking of running or supporting others,” Kristol said.

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While most Republicans who would like an alternative to Trump are keeping their heads down for now, Kristol thinks that outside the hard core of Trump support, “there are an awful lot of reluctant Trump supporters willing to live with him, his tweets and all the disagreeable things about him as long as the economy is decent, there are no foreign policy crises and there is not huge scandal.”

However, when asked if they would be comfortable with him for another term, they “start to say maybe four years is enough of this roller-coaster, this craziness.”

One of the biggest mistakes made in politics is to take a snapshot of the current moment and think it will be the same in a year or two, Kristol said.

“Generally, voters are in flux,” Kristol said. “Party ID doesn’t mean as much as it once did. People are willing to change their minds. There were Obama-Trump voters. There were Sanders-Trump voters. There were Romney-Clinton voters.

“I think it’s a mistake to assume that happened but that couldn’t happen again,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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