The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump is unhappy he’s not getting enough credit for Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia. Keeping in mind that Trump also wants credit for preventing the destruction of Israel, the Post’s report is, for my money, the least surprising news of the week.
Youngkin won his race because he brilliantly executed a two-step. When he sought the nomination, he embraced Trump. In the general election, he avoided such an embrace. Had he not distanced himself from Trump, Youngkin would have lost the race because Trump is widely disliked in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., an area that was crucial to the governor-elect’s victory.
If Trump deserves any credit for Youngkin’s victory, it’s because he didn’t attack the GOP candidate for distancing himself. But that’s a bit like crediting a pyromaniac for not burning down your house.
Moreover, while Trump didn’t burn down Youngkin’s house, he played with matches in its vicinity. At one point, for example, he warned:
The only guys that win are the guys that embrace the MAGA movement. When they try to go down a railroad track. . .”Oh yeah, love Trump. Okay let’s go, next subject,” when they do that — they never win. They have to embrace it.
Yet Youngkin won because he went down precisely that track.
Jeff Roe is a political consultant who helped Youngkin navigate the track. He hopes to parlay that success into opportunities to help GOP candidates running in the midterms next year.
It was to that end, I believe, that Roe met with Trump recently at Mar-a-Lago. The purpose, surely, was to smooth over Trump’s hurt feelings and ensure, to the degree possible, that certain of Roe’s prospective candidates can execute the Youngkin two-step without having Trump set fire to their houses.
This was an important mission, but not an enviable one.
Did Roe succeed? The Post pieced together the following tidbits from sources having (or claiming to have) familiarity with the meeting:
During his meeting with Trump, Roe asked the former president to endorse some of his other clients, according to two Trump advisers who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private conversation.
During the meeting, Trump phoned David Perdue to suggest he hire Roe for his Georgia gubernatorial campaign, the advisers said. Perdue, who is challenging Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp in the Republican primary with Trump’s support, did not agree to do so on the spot, the advisers said.
Roe also critiqued some of the president’s current advisers, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting, and said he wanted to return and see Trump soon. . . .
Trump told Roe that he would like to see his supporters publicly given more credit for the victory, two people familiar with the meeting said.
This doesn’t sound like “mission accomplished” to me. Indeed, two sources said to be familiar with Trump’s thinking told the Post that Trump remains skeptical of Roe.
I believe them. It’s not at all clear what’s required to mollify Donald Trump when he believes he hasn’t received enough credit and/or that he was snubbed. But it takes more than a meeting.
Clearly, Trump doesn’t want to see any 2022 candidates trying Youngkin’s two-step. Convincing Roe that he won’t tolerate this might well have been Trump’s mission at the meeting.