If you believe former President Donald Trump, he will be arrested Tuesday after a possible indictment from a New York City grand jury on a hush-money case.
The arrest of a former president is unprecedented, as many things are about Trump. He remains the leading candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination despite deep national unpopularity and a slipping status with voters and many of his former boosters.
Take some recent, eye-catching comments from former Gov. Paul LePage as an example.
Trump after Trump: Calling himself “Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” LePage endorsed him early in the 2016 primaries. In 2020, he chaired his Maine campaign and greeted him in Bangor. While LePage ran his unsuccessful 2022 return bid against Gov. Janet Mills in a Democratic state, he mostly avoided Trump.
The former governor’s recent comments bode badly for a continued bromance. LePage partially blamed Trump for the party’s poor election here in a little-noticed interview with Samuel Bridges, the vice chair of the state party. He called the former president “wrong” for his false insistence that he beat President Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
“I think Donald Trump was a major factor in this election,” he said.
Part of a theme: Those remarks from LePage come after we have already seen examples of Trump’s support softening here. After the election, other Republicans made similar statements or put forward Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a better standard bearer for the party. He is now mulling a run but generally remains behind Trump in national polls.
Biden is not in a great position entering the 2024 election, remaining underwater with voters nationally. Even Mainers were roughly split on him during the 2022 election, with 6 in 10 disapproving of his economic agenda in a University of New Hampshire poll. The only sure way he looks like a clear favorite next year is if Trump is the one running against him.
The former president’s net disapproval is 8 points higher than Biden’s nationally. A majority of Mainers approved of last year’s raid on Trump’s Florida home in a confidential documents probe in the UNH poll. Two-thirds of Mainers said they were “very confident” their 2022 votes were accurately counted, while only 37 percent of Republicans were.
What’s next: Trump’s possible arrest as well as his unpopular areas of focus underline a perilous year for Republicans, who look to have a major political opportunity on their hands. LePage’s comments and the political movement in Maine show the ground underneath the former president is moving, but none of this means he cannot win the 2024 nomination.