Primary challenges show potential cracks in Trump’s GOP

President Trump’s campaign is moving to block three Republicans challenging him in next year’s primary election, cognizant of the potential threat those challengers represent to Trump’s hold on his vaunted Republican base.

The Trump campaign has worked for months to limit a challenger’s ability to test Trump’s hold on his Republican base.

They have installed pro-Trump party officials in key states, sometimes ousting incumbents to do so. Over the weekend, several states voted to end primaries or caucuses that would have given those challengers an opportunity to attract votes. In one state, South Carolina, party officials canceled their primary in apparent violation of their own rules.

Trump’s rivals — former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R), former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) — represent a broad ideological cross section of modern Republicanism, a reflection of some frustration with a president whose ideology is anything but fixed.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, every president who has faced a primary challenge from within his own party has won renomination, but has lost the subsequent general election.

Some observers think the Trump tweets could backfire.

“They are going to needle Trump from different angles, provoking him to make intemperate and self-injurious responses,” said John Pitney, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College and a former top spokesman for the Republican National Committee when George H.W. Bush was president. “They can’t do much direct damage to Trump, but they can goad him into damaging himself.”

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