As poll after poll continues showing former President Donald Trump with a double-digit lead over all Republican hopefuls ahead of the 2024 presidential primaries, many have speculated how his mounting legal hurdles may impact his chances of being the nominee going into the general election against President Biden.
To hear GOP political advisor Brendan Buck tell it, they won’t.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday, the former senior political advisor to Republican House Speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan said that Trump’s fourth arrest in Fulton County, Georgia, on Thursday won’t stop a primary win in 2024 because “a vulnerability only matters if someone is going to exploit it.” According to Buck, the current crop of primary contenders are generally refusing to effort a takedown of the former president in light of his four indictments.
In the segment, Mitchell cited an MSNBC report that called Trump’s Thursday arrest in relation to alleged racketeering and conspiracy surrounding Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results “the most consequential leak of the 2024 contest yet.”
“Where do things stand for the Republican Party and the primary candidates after all that?” she asked Buck.
While Buck agreed that it’s been an “enormous week” in Trumpland, he emphasized that “it’s hard to say, really, that a whole lot has changed.”
He cited Trump’s biggest competition in the Republican presidential primary, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as an example: “I mean, you have Ron DeSantis saying the words, ‘It is what it is,’ when the frontrunner has gotten himself indicted for the fourth time.”
“This kind of shows you that these people are not really taking a serious effort to go after him,” Buck continued of the other candidates, a group that includes former Vice President Mike Pence and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. “I mean, look, this is an enormous vulnerability for Donald Trump, but a vulnerability only matters if someone is going to exploit it, and clearly they’re not going to.”
So rather than focusing on the primary, Buck turned his attention to the general election with Biden. Presuming Trump as the Republican nominee, he said that the general election is where the former president’s legal woes could prove to be his Achilles heel.
“I think the much more important thing to focus on is the general election at this point, and I’m convinced at this point that people running in the primary are not really putting in much of a serious effort. So you’ve got to look at this in the context of a general election,” Buck said. “Donald Trump is most likely going to be the Republican nominee, and what happened this week is clearly, significantly damaging to him in a general election, and yet they’re leaning into it.”
Buck criticized Trump’s camp for putting his mug shot on T-shirts and the like as part of the campaign’s fundraising efforts, saying that “they need to take this a little more seriously.”
“I get it, why they’re doing it, Republican voters love the ethos of never backing down,” Buck said. “But this is a very significant longterm problem for Donald Trump if he actually wants to be president again.”
Watch Buck’s full appearance on MSNBC in the video above.