On Thursday, the Arizona Republican was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
“Congressman Paul Gosar has been a loyal supporter of our America First agenda, and even more importantly, the USA. Paul is a Congressman who is highly respected in Arizona, strong on Crime, Borders, our Military, and our Veterans,” the former President said in a statement. “He continually fights for Lower Taxes, Less Regulations, and our great, but under siege, Second Amendment. Paul Gosar has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”
If you think that timing is coincidental, well, it’s not.
The chances that Trump even knew who Gosar was prior to the controversy over a photoshopped video showing him killing New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are, well, slim.
But, as I noted in a piece on Thursday, Gosar’s video — and the resulting outcry — turned him in Republican eyes from faceless backbencher into warrior against wokeness and political correctness. Suddenly Gosar was a hero of the conservative right, a man who was being persecuted by Democrats who were trying to silence free speech. Or something.
And the cherry on top for Gosar? The Trump endorsement.
“Thank you President Trump for this honor,” tweeted Gosar soon after Trump backed him. “I am humbled to have earned your support, and the support of the American people. Our struggle to return this nation to greatness is more daunting than ever with the current Administration. Together we will save America.”
(The tweet is pinned to the top of Gosar’s Twitter page because of course it is.)
Just in case you happen to think that Trump endorsing Gosar was anything other than the former president’s effort to put his full weight behind the tactics of the Arizona Republican — and to wade directly into the controversy it has caused — ask yourself this: Why would Trump endorse Gosar now?
The Arizona primary isn’t until August 2022 and there’s no serious noise being made about an intraparty challenge to the incumbent anyway. Gosar represents one of the reddest districts in the state — Trump carried the 4th district by 27 points in 2020 — and Gosar won reelection with 70% of the vote that year.
This move by Trump — and the timing of it — is solely in support of his one consistent goal: owning the liberals. Trump loves anyone who makes liberals mad — even, as is the case with Gosar, when the actions that person takes are clearly outside of the bounds of acceptable conduct.
For Gosar, this week couldn’t have ended any better. An endorsement from Trump means a flood of money into his campaign account from the small-dollar donor army who are fully loyal to the former president. And it forecloses even the possibility of any trouble from within his own party ahead of 2022.
This is how the twisted incentive structure of the Republican party works these days. Do something outrageous. Insist the resultant controversy is the result of free-speech limiters and “woke” obsessives. Reap the political rewards.