Former President Donald Trump is virtually untouchable in the Republican Party even after leaving office last month, said former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“What’s very striking is that President Trump still has such enormous reach in the party that nobody can fight him,” Gingrich said on WABC 770 AM in New York on Sunday. “You can complain about him. You can criticize him. But McConnell can’t possibly fight Trump. He doesn’t have a big enough base,” he said, referring to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Gingrich added that the spat over Trump in the GOP is “also a reminder that there is an establishment insider party that sits around at cocktail parties in Washington, and then there’s this huge country outside of Washington.”
“That country in 2015, by about 2-1, did not like the Republican leadership in the Congress. That was the forerunner of us ending up with Trump as a presidential nominee,” said Gingrich. “McCarthy has been much smarter as the House Republican leader to recognize his ability to get the extra seats [to win the House] rests almost entirely on working with Trump, not picking a fight with him,” he said, referring to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
Gingrich was seemingly referring to critical statements made by both Trump and McConnell, the Senate GOP leader, about one another in recent days. McConnell, on the floor of the Senate and in an opinion article, panned Trump’s Jan. 6 remarks and suggested that the former president could face civil or criminal prosecution, although McConnell didn’t vote to convict him.
Days later, Trump issued a blistering rebuke of McConnell’s leadership in the Senate and suggested that the Republican Party wouldn’t win with McConnell as leader and suggested Republicans break from him. McConnell, so far, has not issued a response to Trump’s statement and hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
Trump was impeached on Jan. 13 for alleged incitement of insurrection, as a majority of lawmakers in the lower chamber said he incited the Capitol beach on Jan. 6. He was acquitted earlier this month by the Senate.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the minority whip in the Senate, decried the various state GOPs for censuring senators who voted to convict Trump. Five of seven Republican senators who voted to convict the former president were censured by Republicans in their home states.
“There was a strong case made,” Thune told The Associated Press on Feb. 13. “People could come to different conclusions. If we’re going to criticize the media and the left for cancel culture, we can’t be doing that ourselves.”
Polls, meanwhile, have found that among Republicans, Trump is enormously popular. About 70 percent of Republicans said they would consider joining a Trump-backed political party should he start one, according to a CBS poll released earlier this month.