There are two categories of people who most desperately want Donald Trump to be the Republican Party’s nominee in 2024: people who love Donald Trump, and people who hate Donald Trump. The people who love Donald Trump are obvious about it. The people who hate him are obvious about it too — but only if you pay attention.
Consider this latest ad from Liz Cheney, targeted to run in New Hampshire, where Trump will be holding a town hall on CNN this evening. It’s not designed to convince anyone to change their minds about Donald Trump. It’s not designed to boost any non-Trump Republican candidates. It’s designed to troll Donald Trump in ways that people who hate him will enjoy — but more importantly, to boost Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican nominee. Make no mistake: this is an ad designed to help Donald Trump by criticizing him.
Why would Liz Cheney want Trump to be the nominee? Because there’s no path back for what she represents or the views she espouses without Trump and his team crashing and burning in an even worse way than in 2020. Cheney needs Trump to lose in a general election to have any path back to relevance for her neoconservative movement. Trumpism has to be thoroughly rejected as emblematic of loserdom, a reckoning that will not come with any other outcome.
Voters should expect this type of ad buy to continue throughout the primary. Instead of spending money on behalf of an opposing candidate, Cheney and the rest of the “hate Trump” movement will do everything they can to ensure he remains the face of the party, thereby ensuring their continued relevance as GOP critics. That’s how much they need him.