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More GOP holdouts backing Trump as leaders seek ‘unity’

Democrats also expecting 2020 rematch, but Haley says she’ll stay in race

New York Republican Rep. Brandon Williams endorsed Donald Trump for president after the New Hampshire primary was called.
New York Republican Rep. Brandon Williams endorsed Donald Trump for president after the New Hampshire primary was called. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former President Donald Trump’s support from Republicans on Capitol Hill grew after he won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday, with some House members facing tough reelections this fall saying the win clarified that Trump would be the party’s 2024 nominee.

Democrats, meanwhile, breathed a sigh of relief that President Joe Biden’s decision not to campaign in the Granite State, after the Democratic Party reordered the calendar and stripped the state of its convention delegates for not complying, didn’t prevent him from winning Tuesday through a coordinated write-in campaign.

While former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said she plans to stay in the race, Republican and Democratic officials and operatives began to look ahead to a November rematch of the 2020 presidential election. 

“President Trump will be the Republican nominee for president,” New York Rep. Brandon Williams said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, after the New Hampshire race was called. “Our country is under immense pressure — inflation, chaos at the border, sanctuary cities, fentanyl, cashless bail, crime, energy costs — we can’t endure 4 more years of Progressive fantasies, we need a Republican in the White House.”

Williams, a freshman who represents a district that Biden would have won by 7 points in 2020, said he “always said our nominee will have my full support to turn this country around.” He joined fellow New York freshman Rep. Nick LaLota, who endorsed Trump last weekend. 

Other so-called “Biden district Republicans” have also suggested to reporters recently that they would support Trump if he’s the nominee. California Rep. John Duarte told Axios he expects to endorse Trump and will “strongly support the Republican candidate.” Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon told The Washington Post that he would support the nominee. 

Senators who are not in danger in November but had held off on endorsing Trump also jumped on the bandwagon.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, one of three Republicans considered potential successors to Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, endorsed Trump on Tuesday night, as did Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer, who is up for reelection in November. 

“To beat Biden, Republicans need to unite around a single candidate, and it’s clear that President Trump is Republican voters’ choice,” Cornyn said. “Four more years of failed domestic policies like the Biden Border Crisis and record-high inflation, and failed foreign policies that have emboldened our adversaries and made the world a more dangerous place, must be stopped.”

Cornyn had previously suggested he was skeptical that Trump would win another general election. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson said in a statement that it’s “time for the Republican Party to unite around President Trump so we can focus on ending the disastrous Biden presidency and growing our majority in Congress.” His statement followed one issued over the weekend from National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Richard Hudson, R-N.C., calling Trump the “presumptive nominee.” 

David Bergstein, the communications director for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement that Republican candidates will “spend the next months answering for every word that comes out of Trump’s mouth.”

“Trump is all but certain to lead the GOP ticket, and that’s the worst possible outcome for Republican Senate candidates,” he said. “He energizes Democrats, alienates independent voters, and will make the infighting in GOP primaries even worse.”

Voters write Biden in

Biden, despite not actually being on the ballot, won 55 percent of the vote in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary, according to unofficial tallies Wednesday afternoon. 

“While we work toward November 2024, one thing is increasingly clear today: Donald Trump is headed straight into a general election matchup where he’ll face the only person to have ever beaten him at the ballot box: Joe Biden,” Julie Chaez Rodriguez, Biden’s campaign manager, said in a statement. 

Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips, who in October looked at Biden’s cratering popularity and said Democrats needed an alternative, took less than 20 percent. He said Wednesday on Fox News that after campaigning in New Hampshire for just 10 weeks, that result was a success.

“As I said for many weeks before this, I respect Joe Biden. But even those numbers last night [were] not those of a strong incumbent,” Phillips said. “I’m trying to wake up my party to what is an independent disaster.”

Still, it’s not clear where Phillips’ campaign goes beyond the Granite State. Biden will be on the ballot early next month in South Carolina, the state that propelled him to the nomination four years ago. 

South Carolina Rep. James E. Clyburn, whose 2020 endorsement was critical for Biden, has said he has concerns about Democrats’ ability to break through and communicate the Biden administration’s achievements to voters. 

“I have no problem with the Biden administration and what it has done. My problem is we have not been able to break through that MAGA wall in order to get to people exactly what this president has done,” Clyburn said on CNN earlier this month.

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