It would seem, after a particularly bad three weeks, that Donald Trump’s “invincibility” may at last be deserting him. Never a great admirer, Mitt Romney, Republican senator and former presidential candidate, now describes him as the “kiss of death” to the party’s hopes to reclaim the White House, and more of the party is now willing to agree publicly. Fear of offending the man who can still marshal the unquestioning support of over a quarter of the membership is beginning to evaporate. His unusually early announcement of a third presidential campaign seems less of a safe bet by the day.
Only this week there were two harsh blows. The Trump family business was convicted on all 17 counts in a tax fraud case in New York City. Prosecutors described “a culture of fraud and deception”. And a federal court has shut down a Trump lawsuit which, for nearly three months, had slowed the inquiry into his illegal withholding of national security records.
Meanwhile in Georgia, a vital Senate race run-off saw his handpicked candidate, American football star Herschel Walker, defeated by the first black candidate to win the state.
In the last couple of weeks Trump’s ability to rebuild the broader power base in the party that saw him elected in 2016 has also been dented by a number of self-inflicted wounds, notably in his explicit identification with the furthest reaches of the far right and hints at pardons for January 6th insurrectionists. Then there was his suggestion that the constitution should, if necessary, be suspended in pursuance of his insistence that he really won in 2020, and his willingness to entertain at home a leading white supremacist and Kanye West, the rap artist who has been widely condemned for anti-Semitic outbursts.
He may have the money to run and retain droves of supporters, but in the wake of the losses in the mid-term elections of candidates backed by him, and the emergence of Florida governor Ron DeSantis as a credible alternative on the right, Trump may no longer be immune to the laws of political gravity.