...The Republican Party knows Trump is risky, but they need him for now
Trump's speech probably did not surprise anyone in the room, but it drove home the predicament that the GOP finds itself in. On one hand, Republican Party elites know that his fondness for picking fights -- with the media, with GOP politicians who don't submit to him, with anyone who criticizes him -- can act as a liability for the party by creating division and alienating moderates. On the other hand, Trump still has a great deal of popularity with the base, and the party doesn't think it can afford to turn its back on him.
Trump's fixation on McConnell, the most influential Republican lawmaker in Congress, is a reminder of how Trump can cause chaos in the midterms. He's already vowed to do so -- during the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, he said that the party should "get rid of" every Republican in Congress who voted to impeach or convict him in his second impeachment trial, shortly before he left office. He's already endorsed Republican primary challengers to incumbent Republicans in the House, such as Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who joined the impeachment vote against him.
Trump's behavior suggests that the Republican Party could be fighting on two fronts as the midterms approach -- against both Democrats, and Trump-endorsed candidates meant to take out sitting Republican incumbents.
But Trump is still very popular with much of the party's base
A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken at the end of March shows 60 percent of Republicans believe Trump's false claims that the election was stolen from him -- and similarly, about 65 percent say he should run for president again in 2024.
That level of popularity and trust is why the RNC situated its retreat near Mar-a-Lago and had him as a headliner. It's also why the organization uses Trump's image to raise funds " something which has prompted Trump to issue a cease-and-desist letter....