2024 GOP presidential hopefuls aren't sure if they should support Trump's coup

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Donald Trump Jr. recently called on 'GOP hopefuls' to help his dad steal the election.

On Thursday afternoon, as vote counts ticked up in crucial swing states leaning toward electing Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter in a fit of fury. The target of his ire? Potential Republican presidential candidates in 2024 who were not showing a sufficient amount of support for his father's desire to steal the election.

"The total lack of action from virtually all of the '2024 GOP hopefuls' is pretty amazing. They have a perfect platform to show that they're willing & able to fight but they will cower to the media mob instead. Don't worry @realDonaldTrump will fight & they can watch as usual!" the younger Trump tweeted.

Within the hour, Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a vocal Trump supporter and one of those "2024 GOP hopefuls," tweeted: "All votes that are *legally* cast should be counted. There is NO excuse not to allow poll watchers to observe counting." Cotton included a link to a Trump legal fund donation page.

Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) spent the day railing against nonexistent voter fraud, tweeting: "If last 24 hrs have made anything clear, it's that we need new election integrity laws NOW. Ban ballot harvesting, guarantee poll watcher access, make ballot counting transparent. I will introduce." Don Jr. thanked him, noting specifically that Hawley had been an unprompted supporter of his father: "Thanks @HawleyMO good to see this was before my tweet."

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who has had his eye on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, retweeted Jeb Bush's comment that Florida's vote count was efficient due to lessons learned and laws passed after the 2000 Supreme Court decision that put his brother George W. Bush in the White House. After Don Jr.'s tweet implicating the 2024 Republican contenders, he changed to amplifying unverified reports of election interference.

But others were cautiously silent on Thursday night, even in the face of Don Jr.'s call for "total war over this election to expose all of the fraud, cheating, dead/no longer in state voters" in a tweet hidden by Twitter behind a disclaimer tag.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott remained silent, possibly content in the role he had played in staving off a blue wave in Texas that some had predicted. Nikki Haley, Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations and a former governor of South Carolina considered another potential 2024 candidate, drew fire from Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, who blasted her for "eulogizing" Trump.

"We all owe @realDonaldTrump for his leadership of conservative victories for Senate, House, & state legislatures. He and the American people deserve transparency & fairness as the votes are counted. The law must be followed. We have to keep the faith that the truth will prevail," Haley tweeted Thursday evening.

Vice President Mike Pence broke his silence shortly after Donald Trump's lie-filled Thursday night press event, tweeting: "I Stand With President @realDonaldTrump. We must count every LEGAL vote."

Despite the mixed signals from Republican presidential hopefuls, Karl Rove, a chief political operative for the GOP who helped deliver the White House to George W. Bush in 2000, seemed to head off the possibility of a hotly contested election by gesturing toward undeniably large vote shares.

"There are suspicious partisans across the spectrum who believe widespread election fraud is possible," Rove wrote in an opinion piece published by the Wall Street Journal.

"Some hanky-panky always goes on, and there are already reports of poll watchers in Philadelphia not being allowed to do their jobs. But stealing hundreds of thousands of votes would require a conspiracy on the scale of a James Bond movie. That isn't going to happen."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.