Donald Trump’s big blowout weekend rally in Pennsylvania didn’t do the struggling Republican candidates he endorsed any favors, the state’s former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent insisted Sunday.
“Just by showing up in Pennsylvania, he is making the election more about himself, and of course most Republican candidates don’t want anything to do with him now before this general election,” Dent told Kim Brunhuber on CNN. “They want this to be about [attacking] Joe Biden and the Democrats.”
So to “the extent that Trump inserts himself into this conversation he’s giving the Democrats a major gift right now,” said Dent.
Many Republicans have been fearful that Trump will announce he’s running for the presidency before the midterms because of the danger of making the elections a referendum about him and the several investigations targeting the former president.
Though he hasn’t announced, Trump sounded very much like a candidate at the Saturday night rally, and focused his two-hour speech almost entirely on his favorite subject: him.
He also championed his endorsed candidates, who are trailing in the polls: former TV personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, who’s running for Senate in Pennsylvania, and far-right gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, who’s currently a state representative.
Oz — who spoke at the rally, as did Mastriano (“We the people are pissed,” he said) — appeared to distance himself from Trump as soon as he won the Republican primary in a bid for a broader base of votes.
Dent said he doesn’t think Oz actually “wants to be anywhere near Trump in this fall election” — though he also can’t afford to antagonize Trump.
A high-profile relationship now with Trump “doesn’t do him any good,” said Dent. “He needs to win swing voters and independents and some Democrats, and it’s hard to do that when Trump is really just playing and pandering to his base.”
Oz is trailing Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who has been bashing him as an out-of-touch uber wealthy, crudité-eating carpetbagger from New Jersey.
Dent believes it was also a mistake at the rally for Trump to attack the FBI for confiscating classified documents he had lifted from the White House to stash at his Mar-a-Lago resort.
“I have to be honest with you, if any member of Congress absconded with classified material I can assure you that somebody from the FBI is showing up at their homes and demanding they return that information,” said Dent. “So I am not so sure that the former president Trump did anyone any good with that speech.”
Check out Dent’s interview below:
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