As long as we are talking about Fails and Whales, Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) morning email thingie leads with the prospect of Fat Nixon returning to Twitter now that Elon Musk owns $45B Ameros of free speech:
The news that ELON MUSK is buying Twitter has thrown Washington into a tizzy over one major question: Will DONALD TRUMP return to his old favorite social media platform and start tweeting again?
As it turns out, no one is more petrified of this than members of Trump’s own party.
On Monday night, in a series of calls and texts with several top GOP insiders, every single one of them told us that they hoped the former president stays the hell away from Twitter, lest he sink their chances at flipping the House and Senate. Some of his allies even think that a return to his old Twitter habits could damage his own brand ahead of a possible third presidential bid in 2024.
“If I’m a Democrat, I’d pray that Elon Musk puts Trump right back on Twitter,” said one House GOP leadership aide, who asked not to be named to speak candidly. “I don’t think it costs Republicans the House, but it certainly will elevate Trump’s opinions — and is going to put Republican candidates and members back having to answer for that.”
The person added: “It’s enough to create headaches — and it’s enough to probably cost us a couple seats.”
Some may find this a rather surprising reaction, given that many Republicans have both accused Big Tech of censoring conservative voices (the former president being the most prominent example) and showered praise on the Musk takeover. But as is often the case with the GOP and all things Trump, privately, they feel very differently.
To be sure, there’s a lot yet unknown about whether or not Trump will return to Twitter.
Will Twitter allow it? Questions abound over whether Musk’s new leadership team will allow the resurrection of the now-defunct @realDonaldTrump handle. (The Tesla and SpaceX impresario, however, has blasted Twitter’s permanent bans and what he views as its censorship of free speech.)
Will Trump even want to rejoin? Trump said on Fox News on Monday that he doesn’t intend to return to the platform, and will instead stick to his own social media startup, Truth Social. “I am not going on Twitter,” he said. “I am going to stay on Truth.”
Here’s the thing: Nobody really believes him.
Republicans we spoke with predicted that Trump won’t be able to resist the urge to see millions of retweets and likes on his posts, to say nothing of his ability to drive any news cycle with a message to his 88 million-plus followers. Could he stay on Truth Social? Sure, but that platform has been something of a disaster (read here and here). Trump himself seems to realize this, and has posted on it only once.
“The lure of Twitter … may prove as irresistible for Trump as it is a potential return of a migraine headache for Republicans, who have not missed the tweets and the barrage of questions from the Trump-generated outrage du jour,” said DOUG HEYE, a longtime GOP political strategist watching this closely. “There is no faster way for Trump to be front and center [in] the political conversation than rejoining Twitter, and he knows that.”
The entire situation is giving those of us who covered the House GOP during the Trump administration a case of deja vu. Back in the day, Trump would tweet something outrageous in the morning, and reporters would spend the rest of the day asking Republican officeholders for their reactions. In fact, then-Speaker PAUL RYAN was so sick of journalists peppering him with questions about Trump’s latest incendiary utterance that he took to denying he’d ever seen them and couldn’t comment. “I haven’t seen the tweet!” he’d say, dodging. We’d all roll our eyes.
These days, however, it’s more than just a pesky annoyance for the GOP. For a while now, most Republicans and quite a few Democrats have scoffed at the notion that the midterms would center on anything other than voters’ kitchen-table concerns — inflation, gas prices and crime. But if Trump is out there spewing falsehoods about the 2020 election on Twitter every day, putting his every thought into the ether for analysis and debate, the former president will help at least some Democrats frame the 2022 election not as a referendum on President JOE BIDEN, but as a choice between two parties: one led by Biden, the other led by Trump.
“He has the world’s biggest microphone on Twitter,” said one Republican working on GOP campaigns. “He could do a lot of good with it — or bad. It will make every GOP politician’s life more difficult.”
That’s to say nothing of the nightmare GOP leaders will have if they flipCongress and suddenly have to compromise with a Democratic president on government funding and the debt ceiling while facing incoming fire from Trump online. “This isn’t going to save Democrats’ majority, but it would make governing and passing those big, must-pass bipartisan items all the more excruciating,” said BRENDAN BUCK, a close former aide to Ryan who remembers the drama of Trump’s first two years well himself.
Dudes, he’s the leader of your party. If you don’t like that fact, get rid of him and your problem is solved. Why is everything someone else’s problem to solve for Republicans?