The contrast illustrates the growing rift within the Republican Party, between those who are willing to plead with Trump about his unfounded attempts to overturn the election results, and those who are not. State officials – governors, their deputies, and foreign ministers – have been the most vocal, not only in acknowledging Biden’s victory, but also in pointing out the damage caused by Trump’s bogus narrative.
Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress, usually campaigners of the party banner, have been largely silent, with a few exceptions. It is unclear whether those on Capitol Hill are marching with Trump for short-term political reasons or because they actually agree with him.
Regardless, Republicans in Congress had the luxury of ignoring many facts on the ground, while their state party mates had no choice but to join the rules and laws governing elections in their states.
“It’s different if you’re doing sideline maths versus having actual power to determine or at least confirm the outcome,” said Liam Donovan, the Republican strategist.
The rift provides a window into the cracks and rifts that could occur within the Republican Party after Trump. Nationwide leaders are increasingly voicing their voice in defense of results – in part because the responsibility for conducting the elections rests with them. For conservatives and their fellow state officials, reasserting election integrity is a matter of maintaining law and order but also of their long-term political legitimacy.
But Republicans ’political considerations in Congress differ differently, given that the most urgent goal is to defend the party’s majority in the Senate. Holding two seats in Georgia’s Senate means increasing Republican turnout to the maximum on January 5, which requires keeping the party’s most reliable proponent, Trump, happy. And right now, there are very few members of Congress who can actually influence the outcome of the race – save for a long-running, successful attempt in the House to cancel the presidential election – except for agitation.
All legal votes counted
The majority of Hill’s Republicans have maintained a vague openness to Trump’s legal strategy by adopting the message to “count all legal votes.” The phrase is open to interpretation: it cannot be contested by any citizen on the face of it, but it is a sign of confirmation for Trump and his supporters.
Rick Scott, a Florida senator and the incoming chair of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, gave a voice to this in an interview with CNN last month.
“My goal is: to count all legal votes [and] “Get through the legal process as quickly as possible,” Scott said. Let’s get a result. Then we have to accept the results. “
Scott was among the Republican senators who proposed December 14 as an endpoint to their tolerance of Trump’s hoaxes. In his Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Senator Mike Brown of Indiana refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory but indicated the end could be near.
“I think we have a threshold coming on December 14th when the Electoral College meets,” Brown said while warning against rejecting allegations of fraud, despite the lack of evidence of widespread fraud in this election.
“As long as they’re onlookers, they keep their heads down,” said Donovan. “It is probably the best political move.”
“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened here. And as I said, that includes discussions in the House of Representatives – maybe January 6,” Jordan, a confidant of Trump, told CNN.
“This is far fetched,” said Republican Representative Matt Getz, a Florida Republican and another close ally of Trump, when asked whether Trump should concede after next week. “There are members who believe there can be value in having a substantive debate about what happened in states with major violations. I don’t think 10 hours of discussion on this topic will weaken the union.”
The accent in Republican state capitals was markedly different. As recounts and legal wrangling confirmed Biden’s victory in the major swing states, governors and other state officials stepped up defense of the election. This, despite the fact that Trump trained his rhetorical fires on them rather than Republicans in Washington
While some of these Republican politicians, such as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, were already opposed to Trump, many of the other Republicans opposed to Trump are vocal supporters of the president.
“Confidence has been undermined by politicians and analysts who refuse, implicitly or explicitly, to acknowledge their losses and to receive a megaphone from the sympathetic media,” wrote Ravensburger.
Even the state’s Republican lawmakers have stood up to pressure from the president’s allies to intervene. A group of Republican lawmakers from Michigan were brought to the White House to meet with Trump last month, amid calls that the state’s Republican-controlled legislature overturns the popular vote and instead presents a pro-Trump list. These lawmakers did not express any interest in the dangerous scheme after their conversation with the president.
But on the other hand, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a state that Trump won easily and where he is still a celebrity with Republicans there, insisted early on that the president needed to accept defeat.
CNN’s Alex Rogers, Manu Raju, and Jeremy Herb contributed to writing this article.