Just the idea of House Speaker Trump could be a dream or nightmare for each party Some of the former president's boosters are pushing for him to lead the House if Republicans win it back in 2022. Even if he's not really interested, just the notion may be an issue in the midterms.

Just the idea of House Speaker Trump could be a dream or nightmare for each party

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As next year's midterm elections come into focus, there is no question that ex-President Donald Trump is still the single most important Republican in the country. Congressional candidates eagerly seek his endorsement, and he is actively exploring another run for president in 2024. But there is another role that Trump could play before then. Trump loyalists are pushing the idea of trying to make Trump speaker of the House. It sounds wild, but that chatter is making strategists from both parties stop and think about it. NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson explains.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: If the Republicans take the House back next November, they get to pick a speaker. So, asks Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, why not Donald Trump?


MATT GAETZ: Can you just imagine Nancy Pelosi having to hand that gavel to Donald J. Trump?

LIASSON: After all, there's no requirement that the speaker has to be an elected representative.


GAETZ: She didn't like when that January 6 guy was sitting in her chair in her office. She is sure not going to like seeing Donald Trump sitting in her chair.

LIASSON: Liz Harrington, the spokesman for the former president, tells NPR, quote, "We know a lot of people are talking about it. A lot of people like the idea. But it's nothing Mr. Trump is thinking about." Still, Trump's boosters are asking Trump about it. On "Real America's Voice" with David Brody, Trump was noncommittal.


DAVID BRODY: So there has been talk now about you becoming speaker of the House in 2022. Is that something that you would seriously even consider, or can you say right here, right now, that you don't have any interest in that?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I've heard the talk, and it's getting more and more. But it's not something that I would have considered. But it is - certainly, there's a lot of talk about it.

LIASSON: And when asked about the idea by conservative talk show host Wayne Allyn Root...



TRUMP: You know, it's very interesting.

ROOT: You'll be folk hero.

TRUMP: That's so interesting.

ROOT: You'll be a folk hero.

LIASSON: Would Trump actually want to be the speaker?

JOHN FEEHERY: You know, he might think that this could be fun, and he can kind of drive Joe Biden crazy.

LIASSON: That's Republican strategist John Feehery, who was once the press secretary to the House speaker. At first glance, being speaker might appeal to Trump. He'd be the automatic foil to Joe Biden, commanding media attention 24/7. And then there's the appeal of State of the Union night...


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Madam Speaker, the president of the United States.

LIASSON: ...Where he would get to stand behind Joe Biden, just like Nancy Pelosi stood behind him, a mass media performance opportunity Donald Trump would revel in. And as some Trump supporters, like Wayne Allyn Root, have suggested, the speakership would be the perfect place for Trump to take revenge.


ROOT: And then you become the speaker of the House, lead the impeachment of Biden and start criminal investigations against Biden. You'll wipe him out for his last two years...

TRUMP: That's so interesting.

ROOT: ...And then you'll be president. Do it.

LIASSON: But, says Feehery, the downsides are tremendous. Even if Trump wanted to, he couldn't really offload all the actual work of the speaker's office to House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, or my Kevin as Trump likes to call him.

FEEHERY: You can't avoid the responsibilities, no.

LIASSON: But unless Trump himself totally shuts down all this chatter, Trump as a potential speaker is becoming a political issue. Republicans in MAGA districts love it. Republicans in swing districts don't. And for Democrats, like strategist Karen Finney, it's something that could mobilize their base.

KAREN FINNEY: The idea for some that Donald Trump could become the speaker of the House is almost as frightening as the idea of him becoming president again. That will potentially advantage Democrats - again, the - just the fear of it, just the very thought of it.

LIASSON: Democrats would want to force every Republican House candidate to answer the question, if Trump wants the job, would they vote for him? Saying no would anger their MAGA base. Saying yes would risk turning off swing voters who are exhausted with the former president. They'd be stuck, which is appealing to Democratic strategists like Doug Thornell.

DOUG THORNELL: I think it's totally fair game. Look; like, Republicans do this to Democrats all the time - to our front-liners. They say, well, would you vote for Nancy Pelosi? For Republican members, yeah, they should absolutely be on the record on whether or not - would they vote for Trump as speaker?

LIASSON: For Republicans, according to one lobbyist, the thought of Donald Trump as speaker is either a joke, a nightmare or a dream come true. For John Feehery, the concept is a clear plus for Democrats.

FEEHERY: If we lose this election, it'll be because the election's not about Joe Biden but about Donald Trump. I know that Trump believes that everything good happens when the people talk about him. But actually, this midterm election, for Republicans to be successful, they need to keep the focus on Joe Biden's failures, not Donald Trump's speakership.

LIASSON: Republicans want to keep the focus on Biden. Democrats want to do anything they can to put Trump and Trumpism back on the ballot. Donald Trump himself will have a lot of control over how that one plays out.

Mara Liasson, NPR News.

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