MAGA Malarkey: The Extremism You Missed From Republicans This Week

MAGA Republicans stooped to new lows this week with their extremism, hypocrisy, chaos, and — as President Biden would call it — malarkey. In case you missed it: Donald Trump boasted about his “very good relationship” with Kim Jong Un and praised white nationalist and conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer. Trump also picked up endorsements from the very same MAGA Republicans he’s been known to criticize and embarrass: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Doug Burgum. 

Meanwhile, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis blew through millions of dollars to achieve little to nothing in Iowa, and both DeSantis and Haley are still doubling down on attempting to rewrite America’s history.

We all know Donald Trump has a penchant for parroting dictators — this week, he continued to boast about the good relationships he has with them.

Trump: “He’d love to see me back, we had a very good relationship,” he said of his relationship with Kim Jong Un.

Trump: “I know the leaders of the world … I got along with most of them. The tougher they were, the better I got along.”

Business Insider: “Trump compliments ‘fierce’ and ‘smart’ Putin and applauds Xi Jinping for ruling China with an ‘iron fist’”

The Washington Post: “Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini”

New York Times: “And even as Mr. Hannity tried to clarify that Mr. Trump had no intention of abusing his office, Mr. Trump did not state a clear aversion to the idea of authoritarian power. ‘This guy, he says, “You’re not going to be a dictator, are you?’’ Mr. Trump said, referring to Mr. Hannity. ‘I said, “No, no, no — other than Day 1.” We’re closing the border. And we’re drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I’m not a dictator.’”

Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine: “This exchange is best understood as Trump enjoying the idea of himself as dictator. Trump has always admired dictators and has longed to be granted the obsequious deference they are afforded. As president, his favorite moments were trips to places like North Korea, where he spoke admiringly about the way his counterparties were treated. (‘He’s the head of the country,’ Trump said of Kim Jong-un. ‘And I mean, he’s the strong head. Don’t let anyone think anything different. … He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.’)”

A few months after Trump reportedly backed down from wanting to hire self-acknowledged white nationalist Laura Loomer for his campaign, he’s back to praising her at his rallies.

Trump: “A woman who’s really talented. She’s been amazing … She’s a very important person. … she’s fantastic.”

NBC News: “It was just the latest in a series of promotions and praise Trump has offered Loomer during the campaign, and it has some allies and advisers worried that he’s giving a figure they see as a fringe, far-right activist too close of an embrace — one that could come back to bite him during a general election campaign.”

“Earlier this month, Loomer, who has promoted conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and several mass shootings, rode with Trump aboard his plane on a trip to Iowa, and she has suggested she would like to serve as Trump’s press secretary during a second term.”

@NoLieWithBTC: “Trump just filmed a video with Laura Loomer, a white nationalist who pushed false flag conspiracy theories about the Parkland school shooting and celebrated the deaths of migrants, calling for ‘more’ of them to die. He calls her ‘terrific’ and ‘special.’”

New York Times: “She once described Islam as a ‘cancer’ and tweeted under the hashtag ‘#proudislamophobe,’ and she has celebrated the deaths of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.”

Loomer: “Someone asked me, ‘Are you pro-white nationalism?’ Yes. I’m pro-white nationalism.”

MAGA Republicans Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Doug Burgum — who have mercilessly criticized Donald Trump — lined up to endorse their leader. 

Ted Cruz, 2016: “I’m gonna tell you what I really think of Donald Trump. This man is a pathological liar. He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies – he lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. … The man cannot tell the truth, but he combines it with being a narcissist.”

Ted Cruz, 2024: “I’m proud to endorse Donald Trump.”

Jennifer Palmieri: “Ted Cruz knows how dangerous Donald Trump is, obviously he spoke clearly about that in 2016. … they were there on Jan. 6, he knows what a threat Trump is … and they continue to prop him up. They, you know, I think it reveals something more deeply cynical about the Republicans that hold onto him, is that they don’t think this republic actually matters.”

Daily Beast: “Marco Rubio formally endorsed Donald Trump for president in a post on X Sunday. … He previously ran against Trump in 2016, during which he called him ‘an embarrassment’ and a ‘con artist’ before bowing out of the primary race.”

Washington Post: “Over the course of his presidential bid, Sen. Marco Rubio called Donald Trump a ‘con man’ who was ‘dangerous’ and unqualified to control the nation’s nuclear codes. He ridiculed the businessman’s manhood and warned he would ‘fracture’ the Republican Party if he was the nominee. … But now Rubio is on board, saying … that he would be ‘honored’ to help Trump however he can.” 

Mediaite: “Fox’s MacCallum Brings Receipts to Doug Burgum After He Praises Trump: You Said ‘You Wouldn’t Want to Do Business with Him’”

“Fox News host Martha MacCallum confronted North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum over past comments he made about Donald Trump, whom he has now endorsed while calling it ‘an easy decision.’”

Nikki Haley says she doesn’t play for second, but she definitely doesn’t play for first either. After Haley’s campaign surrogate Chris Sununu said Haley would finish a “strong second” in Iowa and Haley herself said she expected to have a “strong showing,” she had a disappointing third-place finish.  

Haley: “I don’t play for second.”

CNN: “Nikki Haley supporters grapple with third place Iowa finish”

New York Post: “NH Gov. Chris Sununu predicts Haley primary win, ‘strong second’ in Iowa as race for GOP nom heats up”

Semafor: “With two weeks to go until the Iowa caucus, presidential candidates are fine-tuning their messaging, blitzing the state with appearances and ads, and — in Nikki Haley’s case — setting some clear expectations for the next few months. … [Chris Sununu] said that Haley would ‘shock everyone in Iowa with a strong second,’ before winning New Hampshire outright and forcing a ‘one-on-one’ race with Trump.”

Haley: “I want to get a strong showing in Iowa, a strong showing in New Hampshire, a strong showing in South Carolina.”

Despite heavily investing on the ground in Iowa, DeSantis finished 30 points behind Trump for second place.

DeSantis: “We’re going to win the caucus. … We’re going to win Iowa. I think it’s going to help propel us to the nomination.”

DeSantis: “We’re going to win here in Iowa. We have the organization in place. … I think it’ll be very clarifying in terms of who is the real deal and who’s not.”

New York Times: “[DeSantis’s] distant second-place finish had all the feelings of a disaster, given how much time and money he invested in the state, and it calls into question his ability to stay in the nominating contest, with his campaign cash running low and tough tests ahead in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

Des Moines Register: “Fueled by $82.5 million that DeSantis had raised for his reelection bid and transferred over from a state committee, the Never Back Down super PAC flooded Iowa with door knockers as part of the most robust ground game mounted by any candidate. DeSantis also spent much of the $35 million he raised in his campaign account in Iowa.”

NBC News: “Ron DeSantis’ big bet on door-knocking put to the test in Iowa”

“With Iowa viewed as a make-or-break state for DeSantis, his allies have pulled resources from elsewhere to focus them there. Three people familiar with this development said Never Back Down recently relocated door-knockers from South Carolina to Iowa.”

“One person who formerly worked on an early-state door-knocking effort on DeSantis’ behalf said Never Back Down ‘wasted tens of millions of dollars, essentially chasing rural voters who had no interest in Ron DeSantis whatsoever.’”

Haley and DeSantis continued to try to out-MAGA each other by attempting to erase and rewrite American history. 

The Hill: “In an interview on ‘Fox & Friends,’ co-host Brian Kilmeade asked Haley whether she thinks the GOP is a ‘racist party.’

“‘No. We’re not a racist country, Brian.  We’ve never been a racist country,’ Haley said in response.”

The Guardian: “Ron DeSantis insists US is ‘not a racist country’, echoing claim by Nikki Haley” 

After spending his campaign embracing the extreme MAGA agenda and peddling conspiracy theories, Vivek Ramswamy suspended his campaign and endorsed Trump.

Associated Press: “Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his 2024 Republican presidential bid and endorses rival Donald Trump”

Ramaswamy: “Donald Trump needs to be the nominee of this party.”