Georgia – Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican previously thought to be a potential 2024 presidential candidate against ex-President Donald Trump, made a strong statement this Saturday. He criticized the top Republican candidate sharply.
Kemp didn’t name Trump
In a speech focusing on the future of politics in the country, Kemp, without naming him, seemed to challenge Donald Trump. He urged the Republican Party to adopt a more positive and forward-looking strategy to attract voters, indirectly criticizing Trump’s aggressive political tactics.
“This election should be about results, not personalities… because if this general election becomes a debate about who can outlast the other 80 year-old politician, the American people will lose,” Kemp said in a speech to students at Washington and Lee University’s Mock Convention in Lexington, Virginia.
In his speech at a convention aiming to mimic a real presidential nomination event for the party not in power, Kemp didn’t directly mention Trump. He emphasized that Republicans should present voters with a hopeful plan for the future, not just criticize President Joe Biden’s administration.
Kemp highlighted Republicans’ focus and direction
Kemp highlighted the importance of offering a vision for what Republicans will do if they regain the presidency, speaking to an audience of students. He also criticized the extreme factions within political parties without giving specific details.
“We have leaders unwilling to stand up to the fringe elements of their own parties or because they’re scared of getting called out on prime-time Fox News or MSNBC. Well, I’ll tell you, I’ve been there, folks, and I’ve lived to tell the tale. Because at the end of the day, this election is not about any one person, politician or political issue,” he said.
He continued by advising his party to move on from the 2020 election controversies, which Trump continues to baselessly claim was rigged, despite assurances from election officials about the integrity of the vote.
“We have to focus on the future, not looking in the rearview mirror at past elections. The fact is, the voters who will decide this race for the presidency are tired of hearing about 2020. We need to tell the American people what we’re for, what are we going to do to restore the American dream,” Kemp added.
Kemp, who told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last year he would back Trump if he became the GOP nominee because he’s “a lot better than Biden,” has broken with Trump over 2020, tweeting in August, “The 2020 election in Georgia was not stolen.”
Kemp’s remarks on Saturday follow Trump facing legal charges in Fulton County related to his attempts to dispute the 2020 election outcome. Trump has declared he is not guilty.
After Trump tried to change the election results in Georgia, both Kemp and Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were criticized by Trump and his supporters for not assisting in overturning Biden’s victory.
At one point in late 2020, Trump expressed regret for endorsing Kemp during a Fox News interview.
“I’m ashamed that I endorsed him,” Trump told Fox News.
Furthermore, before the important Senate runoff elections in Georgia in 2021, Trump vowed to oppose Kemp in his 2022 bid for re-election.
Despite opposition, Kemp overcame a primary opponent supported by Trump in 2022. He spoke to the audience on Saturday right after appearances from Donald Trump Jr., Texas GOP Representative Wesley Hunt, and Virginia GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Kemp and Youngkin still haven’t endorsed Trump
Neither Kemp nor Youngkin has openly supported Trump for the Republican primary. However, Youngkin has encouraged Virginia Republicans, who are preparing for the Super Tuesday primary elections, to “come together.”
“As Virginians express their choice on March the 5th, we must come together. As Americans across the country make their choice, we must come together. We must come together around a nominee with universal support in order to usher in a new era — not of Republicans versus Democrats, but of an unrivaled America,” he said.
Youngkin named only one elected Republican official in his remarks: Kemp.
“We agreed that we would serve. I know my friend Gov. Brian Kemp, who you will hear from later, would say the exact same thing,” Youngkin said.
Trump holds a wide polling lead over his only remaining major Republican primary rival, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.