EDITORIALS

Other Voices: Greitens wants Trump’s endorsement. That it’s even a possibility speaks volumes.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In an encouraging sign of sanity among Missouri Republican campaign donors, scandal-plagued former Gov. Eric Greitens is struggling in fundraising for his U.S. Senate bid. If Greitens were to become a viable contender for the GOP nomination, it would rank among the worst statements imaginable about the party.

That doesn’t currently seem likely, but Greitens’ fortunes could turn quickly if ex-President Donald Trump were to endorse his candidacy — a possibility that Greitens’ campaign is pursuing vigorously, and that some Trump advisers are scrambling to avoid, according to recent reporting in The Washington Post. That it’s even a possibility speaks volumes about the sorry state of Republican politics in the post-Trump era.

In early 2018, barely a year into his single term, Greitens was credibly accused of violently striking, sexually abusing and threatening to blackmail his extramarital lover before his election as governor. He resigned in June of that year to avoid impeachment and criminal prosecution.

None of that baggage (let alone any quaint notions of shame) prevented Greitens from announcing in March that he will seek to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, in next year’s election. Greitens’ audacity at imagining he could stage a political reincarnation after the way he left was, in itself, enough to garner some national media attention.

More startling, though, is how receptive some top Trump allies have been to a candidate who, in a normal political universe, would be a permanent pariah. Greitens’ national campaign chair is Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend and a top campaign aide to the former president. Rudy Giuliani, the former Trump attorney and bottomless well of sycophantic election lies, has endorsed the former governor. Several other high-profile Trump allies have signed on.

Their support of Greitens demonstrates once again that, in TrumpWorld, no qualification matters but personal fealty to Trump and his lies. Among Greitens’ ring-kissing antics has been to publicly claim that the Arizona recount could lead to the removal of President Joe Biden — an undebatable falsehood that even most prominent Trump supporters regard as far-fetched.

Still, Trump himself has remained coy about the Missouri primary, no doubt waiting to see which way the political winds blow in what is, so far, a four-way race. Right now, they’re blowing against Greitens. He raised less than $360,000 in the most recent quarter, well behind Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt ($1.3 million), Rep. Vicky Hartlzer ($831,000) and personal injury lawyer-turned-gun-toting vigilante Mark McCloskey ($561,000).

What Trump hasn’t done — and likely won’t do unless and until someone grovels even more zealously to him than Greitens has — is to forcefully denounce the ex-governor’s candidacy and declare him persona non grata in the party.

The GOP’s grownups must be holding their breath for that to happen. No former president in his right mind would back Greitens, but with this particular former president, all bets are off.

– St. Louis Post-Dispatch