WASHINGTON – Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law who emerged as the defender of President Trump’s lowest political instincts during the 2020 presidential campaign, now has her own political future in her home state of North Carolina in mind.
As Mr Trump tries to undermine the election to stay in power, Ms. Trump, three allies, told her staff she was considering running for the Senate in 2022, which is expected to be a competitive race for the first open Senate seat in a very lively state of swing in one generation. Senator Richard Burr, an unremarkable Republican lawmaker who was brought into the spotlight as chairman of a committee examining the president’s relations with Russia, said he would retire at the end of his term. Despite the expanded turnout in rural areas, Mr Trump North Carolina won by a smaller margin than four years ago, just 1.3 percentage points, a sign that the state as a whole is blue and the race for the Senate seat will be fiercely competitive by both parties in the first election after Donald Trump.
But maybe not quite to Trump if Mrs. Trump continues.
Ms. Trump, 38, a former personal trainer and television producer for Inside Edition, married Eric Trump in 2014 on the family’s estate in Mar-a-Lago and worked as a senior advisor for the Trump 2020 campaign. Now the daughter-in-law is swimming Mr. Trump had often joked to donors that he “couldn’t pick from a list” as a first test of the enduring strength of the Trump name.
“She is very charismatic, understands retail politics well and has a natural instinct for politics,” said Mercedes Schlapp, a Trump campaign advisor who traveled the country alongside Ms. Trump as a deputy. “She’s a household name, especially in North Carolina, and people know her. She worked very hard on the campaign and was very involved in a lot of decisions throughout.”
Ms. Trump declined to comment on her plans.
Much of the speculation about who might inherit the Trump cloak has centered on their oldest children, who have cared for their own niche supporters. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, has the deepest connection to the online disinformation system that fueled support for his father, as well as the Trump base, which supports the protection of the Second Amendment.
Ivanka Trump, the president’s eldest daughter and a White House official who focused on workforce development, was used on the campaign to make the president more palatable to the suburban women who were turned off by his tone and tweets . She generally avoided repeating her father’s ad hominem attacks on President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. or his son Hunter or casting doubts about the integrity of the elections.
But Ivanka Trump, familiar with her plans, is still deciding whether to settle her family in New Jersey or Florida, and has no immediate intention of taking on the elected office herself. Donald Trump Jr. can, despite his talent for channeling his father’s ID, choose not to run for office at all.
Eric Trump, the most unremarkable of the Trump siblings, has never maintained a political limelight and cleared the way for his wife.
Eric and Lara Trump currently live in Westchester, New York with their two young children. (Their daughter, Carolina, is named for the state Ms. Trump now has her eye on.) It doesn’t appear that the support of the family alone would empty or even shrink the field of what is likely to be one of the most targeted spots in the nation, in which are already running Republican candidates with experience in the state.
There is Representative Mark Walker, an ally of Trump whom the president has encouraged to run for Mr. Burr’s seat and who has indicated that he would support him. There’s Pat McCrory, the former governor, who said he was eyeing the seat. Tim Moore, the House Speaker in North Carolina, is said to be there. And Dan Forest, who has just lost a race for governor to Democratic incumbent Roy Cooper, is expected to be there.
And then there is another candidate from the inner circle of the president, at least in the current situation: Mark Meadows, the former North Carolina representative and White House chief of staff, is expected to return home and run for the seat as well. Mr. Meadows aides declined to comment on his political future.
None of these more seasoned candidates have the notoriety and ability to raise huge online cash that the president’s daughter-in-law who has cultivated her own profile with a YouTube show and events across the country has. “She would be impressive,” said Kellyanne Conway, a former White House official and 2016 Trump campaign manager. “She has the trifecta: she can raise money, raise awareness on key issues, and draw attention to her race. Unlike many typical politicians, she connects with people and is a convincing ambassador. “
Michael Watley, chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, predicted the race would attract great interest from a wide variety of people.
“I think you’re going to need a dance card to keep things clear,” he said.
Morgan Jackson, a North Carolina-based Democratic strategist, said bluntly, “There are a lot of people in line in front of Lara Trump. Given the rarity of an open space, I don’t think the people who actually live in North Carolina and have been here will avoid anyone else. “
Ms. Trump, who spoke at the Republican National Convention, made many campaign stops in North Carolina this year. On the trail she was ready to go where surrogate mothers like Ivanka Trump, trying to soften the president, haven’t. On behalf of her father-in-law in her hometown of Wilmington, she reiterated the president’s unsubstantiated attempts to undermine confidence in the election results. She said the system was “fraudulent” and claimed that the general vote by mail was “not a good system, it has never been tested”.
On CNN in October, she accused Mr. Biden of severe “cognitive decline” and slipped away questions about Mr. Trump who perpetrated the violence against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who ran the F.B.I. had recently said had been targeted by a kidnapping plan. Ms. Trump has cited her father-in-law’s behavior as an example of someone simply “having fun at a Trump rally”.
Since polling day, she has been actively building conspiracy theories online about the maker of voting machines Dominion Voting Systems Inc., which the president has alleged without evidence, has switched Trump votes to Mr Biden’s column.
A former Trump adviser, Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleged in a 2018 memoir that Ms. Trump offered her a $ 15,000-a-month contract in exchange for keeping silent about her time at the White House, and subsequently released a secret recording said by Ms. Manigault Newman supports this claim.
While the idea of another Trump testing the political waters has been anathema to Republicans who wanted the party to move away from their current Trumpian identity, others have tried to lure in the next generation.
The Club for Growth, an influential conservative anti-tax group, commissioned a poll of Ms. Trump as a candidate for Congress, who represents New York’s second borough, earlier this year.
David McIntosh, the president of Club for Growth, said at the time that the group simply asked her name to show there was good support and to lure her into an open race.
In a hypothetical area code, the poll showed that she won with 30 points.