In an exclusive, hour-long interview with Fox News, former President Donald J. Trump will tell “Hannity” that the future of the Republican Party hinges on whether it can coalesce behind the “Make America Great” platform that brought new voters into the “big tent” in both 2016 and 2020.
Trump told host Sean Hannity that there are aspects of the 2020 presidential election that show marked improvement for the GOP, outside of their typical precincts.
As the GOP continues further into being a working-class political party, Trump pointed to what he called a surprising detail in Texas, which on a macro level is already a red state.
Hannity asked Trump if the best path to victory is indeed through candidates running on the conservative platform he touted in 2016 that differentiated him from more establishment Republicans like ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush or ex-Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
“Should this now be the Republican Party agenda? Should anybody that wants to run for the House or the Senate — should they take this “Make America Great” agenda and fight for those things that you fought for the four years you were president?” the host asked.
“If they want to win, yes,” the now-Florida resident responded.
In that regard, the former president also told Hannity he spoke with Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott after noting that the GOP increased its Hispanic vote tally — particularly in congressional districts along the southern border.
[At] the Texas border, we have the biggest Hispanic vote since — as the governor said to me… since Reconstruction,” he said.
“If you want to win and win big, you have to do that. you have to do it.” In the 2020 election, Texas’ electoral map along its border with Mexico remained unchanged. However, observers have pointed to the data in some of the individual races that reflect the improvement Trump reportedly discussed with Abbott.
The border’s most expansive district, the 23rd — which runs from outside El Paso all the way to the western edge of San Antonio — stayed in Republican hands with the retirement of Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and the election of Rep. Ernest Tony Gonzales, R-Texas.
Farther southeast, while Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, held onto his seat in McAllen, he did so by a significantly smaller margin than in 2018.
Gonzalez won with just over 50% of the vote, while GOP challenger Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez garnered about 47%. De La Cruz-Hernandez, an entrepreneur, announced she is again challenging Gonzalez next year.
During his interview with Hannity, Trump also discussed President Biden’s border crisis, which has been often chronicled in that same McAllen area.
The host asked Trump what would happen if a daycare center was treating children the way the Biden administration is at the border, in the overflowing facilities at a time of pandemic.
“You’d be shut down and charged with child abuse,” the host said.
Trump agreed, saying the public “would not stand for it,” and accused the White House of “playing it down as much as they can play it down.”
“It’s a horrible situation [that] could destroy our country.”
“There’s never been anything like what’s happened at our border and people are coming in by the tens of thousands,” he added.
Trump said Biden could’ve prevented the crisis at the border by just “leav[ing] it alone.”
“I don’t know if Joe knows what’s going on with [the Second Amendment], because I think you have a cabal, you have a group of people that are sitting around a table just saying do this, do this, do this. They’re giving him these things to sign,” he later added. “Now we’re going to take back the house in 22: we have a real chance.”
Trump also told Hannity that the Republican Party has never been as unified as the Democrats when it comes to sticking together on important votes.
Trump noted Democrats “don’t have a Mitt Romney,” in reference to the Utah senator and 2012 Republican presidential nominee who has bucked his party at crucial times such as the impeachment proceedings.
“Lisa Murkowski is a disaster,” Trump added, remarking on the Alaska senator whom he has pledged to campaign against in the 2022 primary. Murkowski was the lone GOP no-vote against Trump Supreme Court nominee Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
The former president said he “has done so much for Alaska” during his tenure in the White House, including opening up ANWR and supporting transportation infrastructure.
“The Republicans have to unify,” he said, pointing to the failed GOP attempt to fully repeal ObamaCare. During the vote, the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., famously issued a stern “thumbs down” signal, which sparked the then-president’s ire for some time afterward.
On the positive side, Trump reiterated that the Republican platform is resonating, remarking that “Nancy Pelosi almost lost her job over it.”
He said that Republicans were projected to lose seats in the House but instead gained more than a dozen, and did not see a single incumbent congressman lose.
He recalled telling House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to give him a list of all the candidates either losing their races in the polls, or cursorily ahead. With that list, he told Hannity, he made sure to campaign hard for all candidates.
Trump also said, had he not campaigned for U.S. Senate candidates, the Democrats would have a filibuster-proof majority — Democratic attempts to remove the protocol notwithstanding.
“We are going to help with the House [in 2022],” he later added. “I think we have a really good chance. I’m working with everybody including Kevin McCarthy. Likewise, the Senate is going to be a little bit tougher.”
Trump claimed that 8 more Republican senators would have lost in 2020 if he hadn’t gotten involved. He remarked that he wouldn’t name them to save them from “embarrassment.”
“But that includes Mitch,” he added.
Trump was later asked about the possibility of political newcomers Herschel Walker — a former Dallas Cowboys running back — and Lara Trump potentially running for U.S. Senate in Georgia and North Carolina respectively.
Though he just won his election this January, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., is up for reelection in 2022 — the year that former Sen. Johnny Isakson’s, R-Ga., term would have otherwise expired if he hadn’t retired.