Elaina Pott has an interesting piece today at The New York Times on the way GOP presidential hopefuls trying to model their potential campaigns after Donald Trump. Here is a taste:
Theoretically, Senator Tom Cotton was hitting the right notes.
Midway through his speech to hundreds of conservative activists on Friday, Mr. Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, channeled former President Donald J. Trump as he castigated President Biden’s immigration policies. “They have halted deportations for all illegal aliens,” Mr. Cotton said gravely, and falsely. “Murderers, rapists, terrorists, MS-13 gang members are not being deported.”
His cadence quickened: “They stopped building a wall around our border, and they put up a wall around your United States Capitol.” He thundered on: “And right now,” he said misleadingly, “right now, as we speak, they are literally tracking down illegal aliens in Mexico who Donald Trump turned away, to invite them to come back.”
Finally, the big reveal: “That’s not catch-and-release,” Mr. Cotton intoned, “that’s recruit-and-release!”
And then — nothing.
Well, almost nothing. A few polite titters rippled through the ballroom. But in the half-second of awkward energy that followed, it seemed clear that Mr. Cotton’s wordplay — his attempt to repurpose Mr. Biden’s reversal of a Trump-era policy on asylum seekers as a quippy, critical slogan — had not landed as he’d hoped.
For ambitious Republicans like Mr. Cotton who are mulling a presidential bid, a challenging and at times uncomfortable audition is underway this winter: trying to use the Trump political playbook to impress and inherit the former president’s supporters — all while navigating the limitation of not being Mr. Trump.
Read the rest here.