Former President Donald Trump “will be hard to stop” if he seeks the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, says a retiring Republican congressman who voted in favor of impeachment after the Capitol riot.
Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) told CNN on Sunday he firmly believes Trump will run and be a strong candidate even as he argued that the Jan. 6 committee’s findings will increasingly resonate with moderate GOP voters, as well as independents.
“I have said from the beginning I think that Donald Trump is going to be a candidate in ’24. The voters still like him a lot,” Upton said on State of the Union. “We see that certainly in Michigan. He’s had a number of decisive wins, where he’s endorsed candidates[who] have won. He’s had a few losses as well, but he certainly entertains a majority of the Republican base, and will be hard to stop. And, frankly, as we look at the economy, we look at gas prices, all these different things, folks are not really happy with the Biden administration, which is why he is mired at a level even below where Donald Trump was at this point in his tenure.”
Asked what it says to him that Trump remains a party tour de force, the congressman said: “Well, look, it was a close election. It was a close election in 2016. It was certainly a close election in 2020 as well. And you have got the base voters that are really upset that things didn’t go their way, and they’re — they’re loyal as can be.”
Upton was one of 10 House Republicans who found Trump culpable for the Jan. 6 ransacking of the Capitol in the second impeachment case made against the former president. However, as it went the first time, Trump was acquitted by the GOP-led Senate. Upton announced his retirement after decades in Congress in April while contending with the prospect of a Trump-backed rival.
Despite his coming retirement, and the impending departure of other Republicans who have risen up against Trump, Upton said he believes there will still be GOP members who will stand up to the former president.
“You got to remember too, though there were only 10 of us that voted to impeach, there were 35 of us that vote voted for a bipartisan commission to look at this,” Upton said, referring to the fallout after Jan. 6. “And we know that there were a lot of folks who were, frankly, scared of their reelection, which is why they voted the other way as well. So our group is actually a little bit stronger than what the numbers showed. And, of course, we did send it to the Senate, and they did have a majority of the senators vote to impeach the president. But we will — that’s why politics is so much fun sometimes. It’s — we will see how things all shake out.”
Upton opined that the evidence being brought forth by the Jan. 6 committee, which is in the middle of a slate of summer hearings, will resonate with moderate Republican voters and independents.
“Yea, I think so.” he said when asked about it. “I think the overriding issue certainly is the economy and gas prices.”
“But I think there’s been real interest in what’s going on,” Upton added, referring to the Jan. 6 committee and its summer hearings. “You have got, obviously, your different factions that are not going to turn it on and watch. They made their decision some time ago. But, yes, I think that it’s had an impact on voters across the country. And we will see how this thing plays out. The committee has been very careful not to divulge any details in advance of their hearings. For me, I have — obviously, I was there that day. The regrets that I see is that some of the folks that they have talked to who are now — their answers are being made public, where have they been for the last year-and-a-half? Why weren’t they saying what they’re saying now a year-and-a-half ago, particularly to those of us that actually witnessed what was going on, to back us up a little bit?”