“Most Republicans were clearly unaffected by his association with Trump,” said Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party. «They probably even benefited from it.»

Delivering the State of the Union response is, in most cases, a terrible job, one fraught with political pitfalls. The most memorable speeches are remembered for all the wrong reasons: a little spit on the lips, a frantic toss for a bottle of water on the nearby table.

But being chosen for the answer is still an honor. And it gives a snapshot of the trend of the opposition party at that time. When Sanders delivers his speech, it will be a salutary reminder that Trump’s impact on the Republican Party is likely to last for generations, even if many Republicans say they are ready to put him behind them.

kevin mccarthy – «my Kevin», as Trump once called him – will stand behind Biden during his speech. Members of Congress will attend, including ryan zinke from Montana, a Trump-era Secretary of the Interior, and max miller of Ohio, a former Trump adviser. Ronna McDaniel, who dropped the last name to stay in Trump’s favour, was re-elected last month as chair of the Republican National Committee.

Several former Trump administration officials are set to run for president, including Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley. Even Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, now Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential nomination, has Trump to thank for the honor. He would probably be a little-known former congressman if he hadn’t ingratiated himself with Trump in his gubernatorial primary in 2018.

In fact, DeSantis may have provided the model for Sanders to follow. Then-Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam had made his way into Republican circles and seemed likely to win the party’s nomination before DeSantis came to Trump’s attention with frequent hits on Fox News defending the presidency of he.

None of the Republican politicians enjoying Trump-adjacent promotions are without outlets of their own. Sanders, the daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, benefited from a lineage recognizable to conservatives in her home state. And selecting her to respond to Biden on Tuesday may help Republicans reconnect with suburban women, who fled the GOP in the Trump era. In a call to Latinos, with whom Trump made modest gains during his tenure, the representative. Juan Ciscomaniof Arizona, will provide a response in Spanish.

Announcing the appearances of the two legislators, chairman of the House Republican conference Elise Stefanik — the New York Republican whose own conversion to MAGA raised her stature in Congress — said on Twitter that the GOP “embodies the american dream.”

But in the GOP, there is also another dream in the post-Trump era: bringing Trump’s fervor to the fore and then, after two impeachments, Trump’s 2020 loss of the White House and a disappointing midterm. : live to make some more of it.

Sanders, said John Thomas, a Republican strategist who runs a pro-DeSantis super PAC, «was able to navigate the world of Trump and come out on the other side.»

He described her as drawing a «road map to success in the post-Trump Republican Party.»

Before joining the Trump White House, Sanders had been a pretty standard political operative. He worked for several campaigns, including his father’s, and was not considered a MAGA hardliner. But he accepted the role, aggressively fought the press and earned Trump’s trust in the process. It was his experience in that position that he leaned heavily on when he reached the Republican primary last year, as much as he did with his political lineage.

«That is not all [Sanders] it was literally the voice of Donald Trump in those early heady days, but it also has Huckabee’s name on it, and conservative Republican primary voters know Huckabee’s name,” said Janine Parry, who runs the Arkansas Poll, a poll hosted at the University of Arkansas in Sanders’ home state. “She’s an old-school Republican, but not an old-school Republican. She is Trump, but not Trump-Republican… She is straddling two worlds.»

And how does a republican ride them? Right now, Sanders is doing what many Republicans are doing: expressing his fondness for Trump while dodging any questions about whether they want him to be president again.

«I love the president» Sanders said on Fox News last monthwhen asked if he would back Trump’s 2024 campaign. However, he said: «Right now, my focus is not 2024, but here in Arkansas.»

in a statement announcing your State of the Union compromise, Sanders said he will contrast «the GOP’s optimistic vision for the future with the failures of President Biden and the Democrats.» It’s still early in his post-Trump career. And as the opinion editor of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette put it over the weekend, “she has not held elective office of any kind before.

«What exactly do you recommend her to be, for one night, the flag-bearer of the national Republican Party?» wrote the editor, Greg Harton.

Eventually, though, Sanders will have a post-Trump record. He is already starting to ride one. On her first day as governor, she signed an executive order prohibit the use of the term “Latinx” in state government documents, and issued other directives related to critical race theory and TikTok — all conservative and pleasant measures.

“She’s not sitting in an office waiting for the phone to ring for people to ask her what she thinks on an issue,” said Robert Coon, a Little Rock, Ark.-based Republican strategist. «She’s running a state.»

Trump may have raised her profile, Coon added, but eventually, like everyone who comes to the other side of her experience with Trump, she will forge her own record. «Make no mistake, this is about her,» Coon said. “She is tremendously talented. She understands politics. She is incredibly smart.»