It isn’t hard to figure out why President Donald Trump has been claiming that Democrats are hell-bent on destroying the Second Amendment: He realizes that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is one of the top supporters of the Republican Party. But the NRA’s recent problems have been well-documented, and a Politico report published on July 3 stresses that turmoil and instability within the NRA are a major worry for Trump’s 2020 campaign.
In Politico, journalist Alex Isenstadt explains that the NRA “is in total meltdown” thanks to “everything from a failed coup attempt to the departure of its longtime political architect to embarrassing tales of self-dealing by top leaders.” And GOP leaders, according to Isenstadt, fear that if the NRA is “profoundly diminished heading into the election,” the GOP will be facing “a gaping hole in its political machinery.”
Gregg Keller, former executive director of the American Conservative Union, explained to Politico why the NRA’s problems “have folks nervous” in the Republican Party — asserting, “No organization has been more important to conservative voter education and engagement than the NRA. We all hope they’re able to mount the kind of effort in the 2020 cycle they have in the past. But in case they can’t, given their current situation, I hope they’re being forthright about that within the movement so others can pick up the slack.”
Republican strategist Chris LaCivita told Politico that the “infighting and accusations” troubling the NRA will “have an impact in the NRA’s ability to raise money, which would be used in elections to turn out its membership.”
Isenstadt notes that following the recent resignation of Chris Cox (who had been in charge of NRA lobbying since 2002), it remains to be seen “who will oversee the NRA’s 2020 strategy.” Steven Law, who heads the Senate Leadership Fund (a right-wing political action committee with close ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell), described Cox as “the guy everybody dealt with” in the GOP.
If the NRA’s problems harm Republican fundraising in 2020, the burning question is: Who would fill the void? And Isenstadt points out that other possible worries for the Trump campaign include less spending by the Chamber of Commerce and a recent announcement by the Koch Brothers-affiliated Americans for Prosperity that it is open to the possibility of supporting centrist Democratic candidates in some cases.
Former Republican Rep. David McIntosh, now president of the right-wing Club for Growth, expressed concerns over Americans for Prosperity’s announcement of possible support for some Democrats.
Interviewed by Politico, McIntosh said of the GOP, “Right now, the party is functioning. But if you see another collapse or if we lose the White House, I think you’re going to see Republicans frankly in a world of hurt without a major funding group like that.”