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Could Trump splatter the wall with ketchup and not lose a vote?

After explosive testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson about an unhinged president clinging to power while flinging his lunch, there’s some hope the Trump voter base will eventually erode. But that has yet to happen, even with those who testified against him.

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In January 2016, right before the Iowa caucus, Donald Trump famously described the fervor of his followers with these words: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said. “It’s, like, incredible.”

Could an enraged Trump splatter the wall with ketchup and not lose any voters? After explosive testimony on Tuesday from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide, about an unhinged president clinging to power while flinging his lunch, there’s some hope the Trump voter base will eventually reduce — like a sauce boiled to nothingness by too much heat. But how much voter reduction must occur before Trump officially loses the backing of the chefs who are supposedly in charge of the Republican Party? That has yet to happen, even with those who testified against him.


In powerful testimony before the Jan. 6 committee, Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers related the intense pressure he was under from Trump and his loyalists to decertify the 2020 election results. Because of his refusal to do so, Bowers was regularly harassed by angry Trump supporters, who at one point gathered outside his home, as his daughter was dying inside it. Unforgiveable? Nope. “If he is the nominee, if he was up against Biden, I’d vote for him again,” Bowers told the Associated Press, right before his testimony. “Simply because what he did the first time, before COVID, was so great for the country. In my view, it was great.”

In the final weeks of his presidency, Trump’s inner circle knew he was clinging to sheer fantasy when he wouldn’t give up the big lie about a stolen election. Chortling his way through testimony before the Jan. 6 committee, former Attorney General William Barr said, “I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality.” But in a March interview, Barr said he would still vote for Trump if he’s the nominee in 2024. “I certainly have made it clear I don’t think he should be our nominee, and I’m going to support somebody else for the nomination,” he said during an interview with NBC’s “Today” show. But, “because I believe that the greatest threat to the country is the progressive agenda being pushed by the Democratic Party, it’s inconceivable to me that I wouldn’t vote for the Republican nominee.”


Over the years and across generations, Republicans have stuck with Trump through personal insults, unethical and immoral conduct, alleged crimes, and impeachable offenses. To cite just a few of the myriad examples of unswerving loyalty: Senator Ted Cruz of Texas stuck with Trump despite Trump’s mocking of his wife during the 2016 campaign. George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida who was christened “low energy” by Trump in 2016, embraced Trump, who did not return the favor. The former president endorsed Bush’s opponent in the recent Republican runoff for attorney general, which Bush lost.

Political pragmatism prevails, no matter how low or thuggish Trump goes. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, who is regularly derided as “Old Crow” by Trump, denounced the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in an impassioned speech. But he did not vote to impeach Trump, and in an April interview he gave to Axios, McConnell said he felt obliged to support Trump if the GOP nominates again him in 2024.


Trump World was supposedly “shocked” and left “speechless” by Hutchinson’s testimony under oath, which included her recounting of a conversation with a top presidential aide about Trump demanding to be taken to the Capitol after his Jan. 6 speech to supporters, and lunging for the steering wheel of the car when his request was denied. Before the rally, Hutchinson said she heard Trump telling the Secret Service to let in people with weapons, because “they’re not going to hurt me.” She also said she overheard White House counsel Pat Cipollone tell White House chief of staff Mark Meadows he was worried about the safety of Vice President Mike Pence, when those storming the Capitol were chanting for Pence to be hanged, and Cipollone wanted Trump to do something about it. If Meadows did nothing about the rioters, he said, according to Hutchinson, “people are going to die, and blood is going to be on your f--ing hands.” In response, Hutchinson testified, Meadows said, “something to the effect of, ‘You heard him, Pat. He thinks Mike deserves it. He doesn’t think they’re doing anything wrong.’ ”

Then, there was the ketchup incident. After Barr gave an interview to the AP in December 2020 saying there was no widespread voter fraud, an enraged Trump threw his lunch at a wall, splashing it with ketchup.


If blood on the streets didn’t change votes, neither will ketchup on the wall. Not from a party that’s afraid to lose even one vote from a devoted if shrinking base of Forever Trumpers.

Joan Vennochi is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at joan.vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @joan_vennochi.