Viewers of Fox and Friends in the “First in the Nation” primary state of New Hampshire are seeing a new ad from Defending Democracy Together, a Republican advocacy organization founded by Bill Kristol, urging the GOP not to prevent candidates from challenging President Trump in the 2020 GOP primary.
“There has been chatter among New Hampshire Republicans calling for the elimination of the party’s neutrality requirement before presidential primaries, which would allow the state party to endorse President Trump against a potential primary challenger. A discussion is expected at the meeting at the end of the month,” the organization warns.
“We are running a commercial Fox and Friends in the Manchester, NH media market urging the RNC not to rig the primary in Trump’s favor,” the organization said in a statement.
The original supporters of an NHGOP rule change, Rep. Fred Doucette and Windham, NH selectman Bruce Breton, told InsideSources they have no plans to present a proposal to change the party bylaws and allow NHGOP officials to publicly endorse candidates in party primaries. They didn’t submit such a change by the state party deadline that passed the first week in January.
Bill Kristol tells NHJournal that’s good news, but Defending Democracy Together is running the ad to bolster the idea of a wide-open primary as pressure from the Trump organization on GOP institutions rises. He also notes that other states like South Carolina, along with the RNC don’t seem as dedicated to the tradition of open primaries as the Granite State.
Members of the South Carolina state GOP have openly discussed simply cancelling their 2020 primary, which would–intentionally or otherwise–deny a Republican challenger the opportunity to take on Trump in a key, early state or compete for those delegates. Meanwhile, some members of the national Republican party are promoting the idea of using the party rules to prevent or discourage a primary challenge.
“Look, the political history is clear. No Republican president opposed for re-nomination has ever won re-election,” RNC committeeman Jevon O.A. Williams said in a email first obtained by the Washington Examiner.“Unfortunately, loopholes in the rules governing the 2020 re-nomination campaign are enabling these so-called Republicans to flirt with the possibility of contested primaries and caucuses.”
“I feel much better about New Hampshire, actually,” Kristol said. “I’m confident the Republicans in New Hampshire–guardians of the First In The Nation primary–aren’t going to let themselves be pushed around by Trump apparatchiks.”
Michael Graham is political editor of NH Journal. He’s also a CBS News contributor. You can reach him at email@example.com.