The unlikely possibility of former President Donald Trump becoming speaker of the House is fueling fundraising pitches on both sides of the aisle.
Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee based fundraising pitches off the firebrand Florida congressman’s plans to vote for Trump for speaker in 2023.
At a July 3 Trump “Save America” rally, Gaetz told the crowd: “My commitment to you is that my vote for the U.S. House of Representatives will go to Donald J. Trump.”
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On Thursday, Punchbowl News reported a Gaetz fundraising email based on his Trump speakership pledge.
The outlet appeared to ding Gaetz for using an unlikely scenario in order to fundraise, saying that former Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said that the former president “has zero desire to be speaker.”
>@mattgaetz is now fundraising on nominating trump to become speaker.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) July 8, 2021
A reminder: only one person needed to nominate someone for speaker. 218 votes to become speaker.
Trump world says he doesn’t want to be speaker. @gopleader does want to become speaker. pic.twitter.com/qlevHPvpZC
Gaetz fired back, saying that he is in direct contact with Trump and that Miller was “misinformed” on the point. He referenced current Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy appearing to say in a Fox News interview that Trump wanted to be speaker, which he later clarified by saying he meant to say Trump wants him to stay speaker.
Doubt about the veracity of Trump’s speakership ambitions isn’t stopping Democrats from using the prospect as a fear-based fundraising tactic. The DCCC sent out an email Thursday that read “SPEAKER DONALD TRUMP ALERT,” noting Gaetz’s pledge.
“The situation is dire. Trump himself has already expressed interest in becoming Speaker,” the DCCC email claims. “And his mega donors have already rushed him $85 MILLION to put his plans into action.”
Other recent DCCC emails have gone further.
One June 15 email signed by California Rep. Adam Schiff said: “This month Donald Trump said he’s interested in running for Congress and even replacing Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.”
A separate June 15 email in red type exclaimed: “BREAKING: TRUMP COULD REPLACE NANCY PELOSI AS SPEAKER.” One from June 14 said: “Trump just announced he wants to unseat Nancy Pelosi and become Speaker of the House.”
Trump said in a June Fox Business interview that it is "highly unlikely" he would run for a House or Senate seat in 2022, but said in an interview with another commentator that the idea of replacing Pelosi as Speaker is "interesting.”
The speaker of the House is not required to be an elected House member, but every speaker thus far has been an elected member.
Non-House members sometimes receive votes during Speakership elections. In January, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine voted for Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth to be speaker. In 2019, Duckworth, former Georgia gubernatorial Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams, and now-President Joe Biden received votes to be speaker.
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A non-House member such as Trump would still need to win over a majority of the House, at least 218 votes, to assume the position. The plan of making Trump speaker would rest on Republicans not only winning the majority in the 2022 midterm elections but that 218 Republican members would support putting him in the post.
Gaetz’s promise, of course, would also require him to be in office in 2023 after winning a 2022 election. Federal investigators are reportedly looking into allegations that he had sexual relations with a minor or paid for sex. Gaetz has repeatedly denied the allegations and has said he will not resign.