U.S. Rep. Fred Upton believes Donald Trump will be a presidential candidate in 2024 and will be “hard to stop” as Trump continues to have strong support from the Republican Party’s base despite the Jan. 6 hearings.
“The voters still like him a lot and we see that certainly in Michigan,” Upton, R-St. Joseph, said Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Dana Bash, adding Trump successfully endorsed some candidates in Michigan, but lost a few.
“He certainly entertains a majority of the Republican base and will be hard to stop. Frankly, as we look at the economy, the gas prices and all these different things, folks are not really happy with the Biden administration, which is why he is mired in a level even below Donald Trump was in his tenure,” Upton continued.
Upton, Michigan’s most senior lawmaker in Congress, talked about the economy, if the Republican Party will back Trump should he run against President Joe Biden, and if finalizing a gun law is feasible before Congress leaves for recess.
Upton said the U.S. House’s Select Committee to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol has been careful not to divulge any details in advance of their hearings, and voters are staying tuned to see how they play out. The committee is expected to hold two hearings this week.
“The regrets that I see is, some of the folks that they’ve talked to, who now have their answers being made public, where have they been for the last year and a half?” Upton said about the witnesses being called to testify.
The U.S. House’s select committee has been investigating efforts by Trump’s backers to try to undermine the election’s outcome. The Detroit News previously reported the committee has explored interactions between some Michigan Republicans and Trump’s White House.
Michigan state Sen. Ed McBroom, the Republican who led an investigation that upheld the results of the 2020 presidential election, revealed Thursday he rejected a request to appear publicly before the U.S. House committee.
McBroom is chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee, which released a report in June 2021, finding “no evidence of widespread or systematic fraud” in the 2020 presidential election.
The panel’s findings refuted many unproven claims that were advanced by Trump supporters to try to discount the election’s result in the battleground state. Biden won Michigan by more than 154,000 votes or nearly 3 percentage points.
“The base voters are very upset things didn’t go their way and they’re as loyal as can be,” Upton said.
Upton, 68, is a moderate conservative first elected to the U.S. House in 1986. He was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and half of them, including Upton, will not be returning. Upton announced in April his plans to retire at the end of his current term instead of running in the newly redrawn 4th District against U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga of Holland who was endorsed by Trump.
“Michigan lost a Congressional seat going from 14 to 13 so they made my district like a sandwich,” he said. “I think there will be some of us left standing. Remember too, though there were only 10 of us that voted to impeach there were 35 of us that voted for a bipartisan commission to look at this and we know there were a lot of folks who were scared of their re-election so they voted the other way. Our group is actually stronger than what the numbers show, of course.”
Congress leaves for recess in a week. Upton believes finalizing a compromised gun deal is feasible, but hurdles remain including funding for state Red Flag laws and eliminating the “boyfriend loophole.” The loophole prevents domestic abusers from obtaining a gun, but only if they have been married to, have lived with, or have a child with the victim.
Upton, a vice chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, said some senators agreed in principle a week ago and thought by now an agreement on gun laws would have been reached.
“I’m hoping they get close (before recess) but I think the House will take it up immediately when we come back,” Upton said. “Frankly, it’s common sense. Law abiding folks shouldn’t have any fear in what’s going on.”
Upton said the conversation has been a rallying point for the NRA and gun owners of America who are raising funds to protect their Second Amendment rights, but “that’s not what’s happening here. No rights are being taken away.”
“It’s been elevated for sure, particularly when you have some pretty well-respected Republicans whether it be a John Cornyn or Dan Crenshaw literally being accosted at their state conventions in Texas this weekend.”
Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.