The latest test of Trump’s leverage in the Republican Party comes on Tuesday, as he has backed the challengers of two Republican incumbents, one who voted for impeachment, and one who attacked him over the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Trump is backing State Rep. Russell Fry who is running against Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), and former State Rep. Katie Arrington, who is challenging Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC).
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Tom Rice is one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. His decision to do so was was a curious one, as his district voted for Trump by a 19-point margin in 2020.
Rice defended his impeachment vote, claiming “Defending the Constitution is a bedrock of the Republican platform, defend the Constitution, and that’s what I did. That was the conservative vote.”
In response, at a rally in South Carolina, Trump ripped Rice, saying, “And now Tom Rice looks like a total fool.”
Russell Fry is portraying Rice as a “traitor” to the district.
In Tuesday’s other race, freshman Rep. Nancy Mace predicted she will beat the Trump-backed Arrington by double digits.
Arrington ran previously in the district and defeated former Governor Mark Sanford in the primary but lost in the general election.
Mace drew Trump’s ire for voting to hold former Trump advisor Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena from the Democrats’ January 6 committee.
Perhaps realizing that she made a powerful enemy, Mace would later travel to New York City, seemingly for the sole purpose of standing outside of Trump Tower and pretending she was a big Trump supporter.
What has Tom Rice received for his impeachment vote? An ad from his opponent comparing him to classic villains like the Joker and the Devil.
And while some Republicans who, immediately following the Capitol riot were critical of Trump and later softened their stance, Rice definitely has not.
“He watched it (Jan. 6) happen. He reveled in it. And he took no action to stop it. I think he had a duty to try to stop it, and he failed in that duty. He’s the past. I hope he doesn’t run again. And I think if he does run again, he hurts the Republican Party. We desperately need somebody who’s going to bring people together. And he is not that guy.”
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