The former president’s key allies are already working to thwart Emmer’s candidacy. Trump supporters have begun spreading opposition research on the congressman, and Friday afternoon’s pro-Trump “War Room” podcast became an Emmer party. During an appearance on the show, Trump’s top adviser Boris Epshteyn noted that Emmer had not yet endorsed Trump in the Republican presidential primary.
“If someone is so out of step with the state of the Republican electorate and the MAGA movement, how can they even be in the conversation?” Epshteyn said. “We need a MAGA speaker. That’s what it all comes down to. Because if you look at the numbers, if you look at the energy, if you look at the heat, this is the Trump party, this is the MAGA party. It’s no longer the old-school khaki establishment Republican Party.”
Steve Bannon, Trump’s former White House adviser and host of “War Room,” weighed in to call Emmer a “Trump hater.”
Others close to Trump said Emmer as president would drive a wedge between House Republicans and their likely presidential candidate. Emmer “has no relationship with Trump,” an adviser said.
In conversations on Friday, Trump made clear that he was concerned about the prospect of Emmer holding the presidency and told people he believed the Minnesota Republican was not a fan, according to two people familiar with those private conversations. Trump has complained, they say, that Emmer has not vigorously defended him against the accusations he faces. He has also noted Emmer’s criticism of him following the Trump-inspired Jan. 6 Capitol riot. and reports – which Emmer strongly denied – who, as then-chairman of the House Republican Party’s campaign arm, advised Republican candidates to avoid mentioning Trump.
Casey Nelson, communications director for Emmer’s Whip’s office, disputed the idea that there was friction between the two sides. “As chairman of the NRCC,” Nelson said, “Whip Emmer worked hand-in-hand with President Trump to help House Republicans oust Nancy Pelosi and regain the majority. If he becomes Speaker, Whip Emmer looks forward to continuing that productive relationship.”
Trump had previously expressed support for House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan’s bid for president. But on Friday, Jordan saw his candidacy fizzle out after House Republicans, in a secret ballot, refused to continue supporting him as their speaker-designate. Before that, the Ohio Republican had failed three times to get the votes needed to win the presidency. His failed bid followed an aborted candidacy by House Majority Leader Steve Scalise and McCarthy’s ouster before that.
The tumult has opened the door for other candidates to enter the race. Possible contenders in addition to Emmer include Oklahoma Rep. Kevin Hern, Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson and Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington.