But he’s encouraged Republicans to focus on a forward-looking message revolving around the economy and public safety — and not Donald Trump’s fixation on his 2020 election loss and the “stupid” distractions of the former president’s growing legal problems.
He’s also been courted by Republican hopefuls competing against Trump, who blamed Kemp for his defeat to Democrat Joe Biden and then unsuccessfully tried to oust him from office. Kemp recently met privately with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and ex-Vice President Mike Pence in Atlanta.
And Kemp stoked buzz about a possible future GOP ticket by sharing the stage last weekend with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, another Republican who won office in a politically competitive state.
Kemp is among several prominent Georgia Republicans in Milwaukee. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene is serving as a pro-Trump surrogate. And U.S. Rep. Rich McCormick, who backed DeSantis, is expected to attend the debate.
Kemp’s visit comes as Trump prepares to surrender to Fulton County authorities on charges that he orchestrated a sweeping “criminal enterprise” with 18 allies to subvert the will of Georgia voters. Trump has called the charges a product of a corrupt justice system.
Trump won’t be among the eight contenders on stage at the debate hosted by Fox News. But his legal problems are expected to be a focus of the 9 p.m. event.