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Donald Trump

Republican voters want Donald Trump. And his vice president? How about more Trump?

Trump could make his campaign slogan 'I Do Crimes and Make All the Men Cry Because All the Men Are Wearing Your Wife's Underpants' and he would still be the next Republican nominee for president.

Rex Huppke

So here’s the thing about a lot of Republican voters when it comes to former President Donald Trump: They want him to be president again.

You can catch some conservatives saying they want to move on from Trump, his unique brand of cruelty and his growing collection of indictments, and you can spin those occasional voices to make it look like the party is better than the man from Mar-a-Lago, but it’s a fanciful mirage.

A New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday shows 54% of likely Republican primary voters want Trump to lead their party into the 2024 election. The next closest person in the crowded GOP primary field is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, trailing Trump by a whopping 37 percentage points.

Republican voters still find the stink of Donald Trump intoxicating

That data lines up with other recent polls showing Trump far ahead of all comers. A twice-impeached, one-term president who has never accepted the results of the 2020 election he lost and is expected to soon be indicted on federal charges relating to the Capitol insurrection he helped foment – adding to the more than 70 state and federal charges he’s facing in two unrelated cases – seems like the kind of stink a political party would want to wash off.

But no. These Republican voters are looking at Trump and saying, “More stink, please.”

A political rally for former President Donald Trump on July 29, 2023, in Erie, Pa.

Consider this from The Times report on the poll: In a direct contest against DeSantis, Trump got 22% even "among voters who believe he has committed serious federal crimes," greater than the 17% DeSantis earned from the entire GOP electorate.

And David Green, a 69-year-old New Hampshire resident, said this of Trump: “He might say mean things and make all the men cry because all the men are wearing your wife’s underpants and you can’t be a man anymore. You got to be a little sissy and cry about everything. But at the end of the day, you want results. Donald Trump’s my guy. He’s proved it on a national level.”

Trump will likely skip the first GOP debate to exert dominance over the other candidates

Trump could make his campaign slogan “I Do Crimes and Make All the Men Cry Because All the Men Are Wearing Your Wife’s Underpants” and he would still be the next Republican candidate for president. Clearly, the former president is aware of that fact.

Trump, who has expressed little interest in the first GOP primary debate scheduled for late August, posted this on his Truth Social social media site Monday: “Let them debate so I can see who I MIGHT consider for Vice President!”

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It pains me to say this, but he’s not wrong. Trump has a stranglehold on a party that knows it needs to get away from him but is too chicken to break free.

Who will Trump pick as a vice presidential running mate?

So when it comes to a vice president, who might orange Darth Vader pick? It certainly won’t be DeSantis, as Trump has made a hobby of degrading the Florida governor, reducing his once-lofty campaign to a puddle that occasionally gurgles the word “woke.”

It won’t be Mike Pence, as the last time the two were together Trump’s supporters wanted to hang the former vice president while Trump was in the White House effectively saying, “Yeah, I can get why they’d want to do that.” And in June, Pence referred to Trump and said, “Anyone who puts themselves over the Constitution” should "never be president again."

No way Trump will forgive that, even though Pence, presumably speaking out the other side of his mouth, told a CNN town hall in June: "I’ve always supported the Republican nominee for president in the United States, and I’ll support the Republican nominee in 2024." (Insert eyeball emoji here.)

Republican presidential candidates, top row from left: Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former President Donald Trump,  North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. Center row from left: former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. Bottom row from left: former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley, businessman Perry Johnson, and lawyer and radio host Larry Elder.

The rest of the GOP primary candidates – like former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former Sen. Tim Scott and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy – are polling in low single digits, which makes them losers. Trump doesn’t like losers.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Unhinged) of Georgia could be an option, but she has the potential to out-bonkers Trump, and there’s no way he’d risk that indignity.

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Trump and his voters inhabit a Trump-centric universe. So the VP choice is clear.

No, the choice for Trump’s vice president seems clear. He loves a winner, and the only person he knows for sure is a winner is himself, as he never shuts up about winning the 2020 presidential election that he lost.

If Republican voters want Trump – and many most definitely do – then Trump should give them more of their hero and pick himself to be his own vice president.

His followers believe, in a totally not-a-cult kind of way, that Trump and Trump alone can fix America. So why not just run an all-Trump ticket?

USA TODAY Opinion columnist Rex Huppke.

The Republican Party needs to stop pretending it isn’t wholly and completely the party of Trump, the party that’s OK with a violent insurrection, OK with vile rhetoric, OK with, before long, probably 100 or so criminal indictments.

For a wide majority of Republican voters, all that matters is the MAGA king. So give ‘em what they want: “Donald Trump/Donald Trump 2024 – Sanity is Overrated.”

Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook

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