(NewsNation) — GOP leaders have come out against former President Donald Trump’s dinner with a white supremacist. But will those critiques resonate with voters?
Sen. Mitch McConnell and former Vice President Mike Pence are two of the top Republicans who have criticized Trump for having dinner with Nick Fuentes. Trump was initially scheduled to have a private dinner with Ye, who arrived with three guests, including Fuentes, a white nationalist.
Trump claimed to have no idea who Fuentes was before the dinner. Many Republicans who have said anti-Semitism has no place in the party have also shifted blame from Trump to his staffers for failing to vet the guests.
Trump’s campaign staff will be increasing their vetting process in response to the incident.
The Hill’s Niall Stanage told NewsNation the dinner could have consequences for Trump’s 2024 presidential run.
“This is the former president of the United States, having dinner with two people who have made anti-Semitic statements, blatantly anti-Semitic statements. That is a problem. I’m not saying it changes everything at a stroke, but adds to the accumulation of controversies that the former president has been involved in,” he said.
At the same time, Trump’s popularity still puts him ahead of his critics, like McConnell, Stanage noted.
“That the former president is viewed favorably by about three quarters, and Mitch McConnell is viewed favorably by only roughly a third speaks to gut grassroots distrust of McConnell. But McConnell does speak for a more Trump-skeptical segment of the Republican Party,” Stanage said.
That wing of the party has called for new leadership after a predicted red wave failed to materialize in the midterm election. Still, there are many Republican voters who will stand behind Trump.
“I think there are a number of people in this country, many millions of them, who will be with former President Trump come hell or high water just as there are millions of people who detest him and will never vote for him,” Stanage said.
The bigger question, he said, is whether or not moderate voters will be swayed by the latest controversy and if it will help potential Trump challengers. In the meantime, it is only serving as a distraction from the GOP’s agenda.
“There is no gain or benefit to the Republican Party in talking about Mr. Trump having dinner with anti-Semites and he has created that situation. I think that is the problem,” Stanage said.