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GOP analyst predicts Trump will face 2020 primary challenge

Union Leader Correspondent

May 23. 2018 11:52PM

Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol took part in the tradition of signing wooden eggs at the NHIOP's Politics and Eggs series. (Travis R. Morin/Union Leader Correspondent)

Weekly Standard magazine editor and unabashed never-Trump Republican Bill Kristol pulled no punches Wednesday at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, suggesting that the President would likely see a primary challenge in 2020.

Addressing a packed house at the institute’s Politics and Eggs series, Kristol made the case that the current political climate is bucking the trend of the last 30 years and has more in common with the turbulence of the late 1960s and 1970s.

“We’ve had three eight-year presidencies in the last 24 years, there was no primary challenge to any of them, Congress went back and forth in a fairly usual way,” said Kristol. “For all the drama of the last 24 years, in a certain way it was a rather stable time.

“Think back to an earlier era in American politics, 1969 to 1980, let’s say, and then you have twenty years of total unpredictability and chaos in American politics,” Kristol said.

Citing the primary challenges faced by Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Gerald Ford, Kristol argued that the volatility of today’s political atmosphere is fertile ground for a primary challenge.

“The most obvious candidate would be John Kasich, just because he ran last time,” Kristol said of the Ohio governor. “I think Kasich has a standing that nobody else does.”

In addition to Kasich, who finished in second place to Trump in New Hampshire’s 2016 primary, Kristol named retiring Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and current Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker as other potential 2020 primary challengers.

“Washington is incredibly polarized, hyper-polarized, nothing gets done, and officials scream and yell at each other, but it doesn’t feel to me that way in most states,” said Kristol. “I have not followed New Hampshire closely, but you have a lot of successful Republican governors; a lot of them seem to be getting reelected. So, it makes me think the country maybe isn’t really as polarized as the parties in Washington are.”

But Jennifer Horn, former state Republican Party chairman and co-chair of the New Hampshire chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, indicated that she didn’t share the conservative political commentator’s optimism about the current state of the GOP.

“There is this tension in our party right now about who we really are and what we really stand for,” said Horn. “Are we the party of law and order, are we the party of integrity, are we the party that’s going to fight for the moral high ground, or are we the party that’s willing to defend and go along with absolutely anything just to increase our chances on Election Day? And I’m concerned that the latter is where we’re leaning right now.”

Horn’s comments come on the heels of last week’s state GOP convention, at which she was blocked from taking part in the meeting due to having moved to a different ward in her home city of Nashua.

Horn maintains that she had been promised her change of address would not affect her delegate status, stating that she believes her exclusion was due to her proposals to drop from the platform the party’s longtime support for “traditional marriage” “between a man and a woman.”

“I think that our party is willing to welcome divergent views on divergent issues. Whether it’s marriage, whether it’s tax reform, or health care,” said Horn. “I think where we go wrong is when we stop welcoming that debate.”

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