SALT LAKE CITY — None of the officials assembled here for the Republican National Committee’s winter meetings are writing off former President Donald Trump. They all recognize his singular hold over the party’s electoral base.
But there is a distinct chasm emerging between Trump’s obsessions and the issues many GOP operatives consider crucial to winning the midterm elections in November. Republican candidates need to make voters’ concerns a central focus, as opposed to Trump’s day-to-day attacks, RNC members suggested this week.
Few will put it quite so bluntly; they are loath to antagonize Trump and possibly drive off his hard-core followers. Yet in interviews, party officials showed little appetite for organizing the GOP around Trump’s grievances.
A winning message would emphasize inflation and parental rights, they said — not the 2020 election that Trump falsely insists he won. Strengthening the party would require opening it up to new voters — not punishing Republicans who have disagreed with Trump, they added.
The sentiments echo those of local GOP leaders, who told NBC News late last year they were ready to move beyond the 2020 election, even if Trump was not. They wanted to put front-and-center issues like border security, the Afghanistan troop withdrawal and education.
A goal of the RNC winter meetings, members said, was for Republicans to project “unity.” Yet Trump remains a source of division that has spilled into the party’s gathering. One of his allies, RNC member David Bossie of Maryland, submitted a symbolic resolution that would call upon congressional Republicans to expel Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., from the House GOP conference. Both voted last year to impeach Trump.
The resolution was watered down to a censure on Thursday, amid criticism from some members that it undercut efforts to show the party tolerated dissenting views.
“The Republican National Committee hereby formally censures Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and shall immediately cease any and all support of them as members of the Republican Party for their behavior, which has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic, and is inconsistent with the position of the conference,” read the resolution, which was obtained by NBC News.
That version passed the RNC subcommittee on resolutions unanimously Thursday evening. Whether the full RNC will approve it at its general meeting Friday is unclear, and a source familiar told NBC News there could still be additional changes to the measure.
“I believe if you’re trying to build a big church, as I’m trying to build in Illinois, you don’t excommunicate people who are alleged to have sinned,” state GOP chairman Don Tracy said Wednesday. “Politics is about addition, not subtraction.”
The model campaign that Republican donors and strategists here are studying and hoping to recreate in…
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