Although it was the outcome that most leaders and grassroots members of both major parties did not want, it now appears increasingly likely that the 2024 presidential election will be a rerun of the disputed 2020 election between two aging and deeply flawed candidates, Joe Biden and Donald Trump, both vying for a second term in the White House.
During his last two and a half years as president, Joe Biden has led this country with a curious mix of competence, reflecting his more than half-century of experience in Washington as a former U.S. senator and two-term vice president, and the troubling inconsistency characteristic of a political leader who is now well past his prime. Biden continues to show worrying signs of his physical and cognitive decline, such as being momentarily incapable of remembering the names of his grandchildren or the last foreign country he visited.
As the New York Times put it in a front-page story over the weekend, Biden, who is already the oldest American president in history, is now “asking voters to keep him in the White House until age 86. . . [presenting us with what it delicately calls a] complicated reality. . .
“The two Joe Bidens coexist in the same octogenarian president: Sharp and wise at critical moments, the product of decades of seasoning, able to rise to the occasion even in the dead of night to confront a dangerous world. Yet a little slower, a little softer, a little harder of hearing, a little more tentative in his walk, a little more prone to occasional lapses of memory. . .”
BIDEN’S CONTINUED COMPETENCE IN DOUBT
“The portrait that emerges,” the Times article said, “is one of a man who has slowed with age in ways that are more pronounced than just the graying hair common to most recent presidents during their time in office. . . Yet people who deal with him regularly, including some of his adversaries, say he remains sharp and commanding in private meetings.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, the current average life expectancy for an 80-year-old white man in the United States is 7.0 years. But while Biden has managed to keep functioning on a day-to-day level as president, albeit at a significantly reduced level compared to his predecessors in the White House, it is unlikely that he will be able to maintain that level for the next six years.
As Biden continues to age, his ability to fulfill the demanding duties of his office will inevitably diminish. Although everyone, including his political enemies, pray for the president’s continued good health, the reality is that Biden might repeat the sad spectacle we have seen over recent months in the deteriorating mental and physical condition of California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, and the embarrassing public efforts by her fellow Democrats pressuring her to resign for their political convenience before the end of her term of office.
BIDEN’S MIXED PRESIDENTIAL RECORD
Biden’s record as president is a very mixed picture. He has succeeded in passing some major pieces of legislation, accomplishing many of the goals of his liberal policy agenda, while at the same time suffering major setbacks, such as the botched U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan and his alienation of some of America’s long-time foreign allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia, as well as his gross mismanagement of the American economy and border security.
Despite their public support for his candidacy for a second term, in large part, because their party does not have a viable alternative, many prominent Democrats and supporters in the mainstream media are nevertheless worried about Biden’s capacity to continue leading this country effectively over the next six years.
WE ARE ONE BAD FALL AWAY FROM A KAMALA HARRIS PRESIDENCY
The troubling video of Biden last week tripping over a sandbag and falling on his face while attending a U.S. Air Force Academy graduation ceremony was yet another disturbing reminder that, as New York Post commentator Michael Goodwin put it, this country is just one bad fall away from the notoriously incompetent Vice President Kamala Harris replacing Biden in the Oval Office.
The downplayed news coverage of Biden’s fall at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony last week was yet another example of how the mainstream media has tried to camouflage Biden’s limitations ever since the 2020 presidential campaign.
In a Fox News interview, former President George W. Bush’s press secretary Ari Fleischer noted that the New York Times was quick to adopt the White House narrative that, despite the fall, Biden was totally fine, compared to the newspaper’s coverage of a comparable incident when Trump was president and he appeared to be walking too slowly down a ramp at a West Point commencement ceremony in 2020. Unlike Biden, Trump didn’t even fall on that occasion. Nevertheless, the Times seized upon the non-incident to raise questions about Trump’s health. Fleischer added that the public is now well aware of that pro-Biden reporting bias, which makes it “easy to see why” Americans have “lost trust” in the mainstream news media.
Even a majority of the Democrat voters who say that they like him are concerned that Joe Biden’s painfully obvious physical and cognitive decline presents an unacceptable risk to the country’s future, and would have ideally preferred a different 2024 Democrat presidential candidate. In a recent Washington Post-ABC poll, when asked if Biden is in “good enough physical health to serve effectively,” 62% of all voters surveyed said no, and when asked if he has the “mental sharpness” required to run the country, 63% said no.
Publicly, Biden’s supporters insist that he is still physically and cognitively fit to serve as president for the foreseeable future. They frequently cite a letter from the White House physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor issued in February. It states that Biden is “fit for duty, and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations,” and shows no clinical signs of any serious neurological disorders. But the letter also notes that Biden’s “ambulatory gait is perceptibly stiffer and less fluid than it was a year or so ago,” due to the natural physical effects of aging and arthritis. In the letter, Biden’s doctor chooses to ignore his tendency for making misstatements and the far-away, spaced-out look of confusion that now appears with disturbing frequency on the president’s face.
BIDEN’S PRESIDENTIAL WORKLOAD HAS BEEN REDUCED TO A MINIMUM
To manage the age problem, Biden’s White House staff has done its best to reduce Biden’s public daily appearance schedule to between noon and 4 p.m. in order to avoid taxing his limited stamina. It has also deliberately limited his opportunities for unscripted public comments in an effort to minimize the frequent verbal gaffes to which Biden has always been prone throughout his long political career.
Biden’s White House press conferences are few and far between, and rarely include an opportunity for reporters to ask unexpected questions. After more than two years in office, Biden has yet to grant a single open-ended interview with reporters from any of the nation’s major newspapers. He also spends most of his weekends away from the White House, relaxing in his Delaware home.
It is also worthwhile to note that two months after formally announcing his candidacy for a second term, Biden has yet to announce a schedule of major public presidential appearances at campaign events across the nation. He is apparently hoping to replicate his 2020 presidential campaign, in which his travel schedule on the campaign trail was cut to a bare minimum, and which relied primarily on Democrat proxies and friendly mainstream news coverage to sell his candidacy to the voters as a return to normalcy after four years of the controlled chaos at the Trump White House.
Because these accommodations were largely successful in shielding Biden’s limitations from the voter’s view, the working political assumption of many Democrats leading up to the 2024 campaign had been that Biden would be sure to win in another general election, especially if it becomes another head-to-head confrontation with Donald Trump.
DEMOCRAT CONFIDENCE IN BIDEN SHAKEN BY THE POLLS
But their confidence in that assumption was badly shaken on May 7, when the Washington Post/ABC News poll sdddddd the Democrat political world by predicting that a 2024 Trump-Biden rematch would lead to a Trump victory by six points, based at least partially on the belief by most voters that Trump is more physically fit and mentally sharp at age 76 than Biden is at age 80.
More recently, New York Times commentator Frank Bruni has warned the many Democrats who are hoping for a Biden-Trump rematch in 2024 to be careful what they wish for. He reminds them that the same fatal error was made by the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign in underestimating Trump’s appeal to angry, formerly Democrat-supporting working-class voters in the Midwest Rust Belt.
According to Bruni, today’s Democrats are assuming that if Biden was able to beat Trump in the 2020 election, he should be able to beat him even more easily again in 2024, if only because of all the legal trouble Trump is in now, and the widespread condemnation of Trump’s actions leading up to and during the January 6, 2021 riot of his supporters at the U.S. Capitol.
WHAT IF ANYTHING DID DEMOCRATS LEARN FROM THEIR 2016 DEFEAT?
Bruni cites a statement by Michigan Democrat Senator Debbie Stabinow to Politico in April in which she declared that “politically, for us, it’s helpful if former President Trump is front and center” during the 2024 campaign. She then added that “Trump’s obviously an extremely dangerous person who would be very dangerous for the country. But I’m confident that President Biden could beat him.” In response, Bruni rhetorically asks Stabinow and his other fellow Democrats, “Did we learn nothing from 2016?”
Stabenow is not alone among Biden’s Democrat supporters in hoping for a 2016 rematch against Trump, rather than having him face a new GOP presidential candidate, such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis or South Carolina black Senator Tim Scott. They are largely free of the political baggage and controversy that surrounds Trump after seven years of non-stop Democrat attacks on his character, many of which were later proven to have been false. The relative youth and vitality of those other GOP candidates would then become yet another obstacle for the Biden campaign to overcome.
Nevertheless, Bruni writes, “I worry that many Democrats still haven’t fully accepted and seriously grappled with what the past seven years taught us.”
TRUMP IS STILL THE MOST EFFECTIVE GOP CANDIDATE
“There is profound discontent in this country, and for all Trump’s lawlessness and ludicrousness, he has a real and enduring knack for articulating, channeling, and exploiting it. ‘I am your retribution,’ he told Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. Those words were chilling not only for their bluntness but also for their keenness.”
Bruni recognizes Trump’s instinctive political skills and insights which enabled his upset victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and observes that, given the right political circumstances, Trump might be able to score another upset if given the opportunity again in 2024.
In closing, Bruni warns that “there are grave differences between the kind of threat that Trump poses and the kind that his Republican rivals do, and to theorize a strategic advantage to his nomination is to minimize those distinctions, misremember recent history and misunderstand what the American electorate might do on a given day, in a given frame of mind.”
He still thinks that Trump could present Biden with an even greater challenge.
Bruni’s points are well taken, but if Trump again becomes the GOP’s presidential candidate, as now appears to be most likely, at least the Biden campaign will have a successful 2020 political roadmap to follow in planning their 2024 campaign.
DESANTIS ALSO BEING ATTACKED BY BIDEN’S MEDIA SUPPORTERS
The Democrats and the mainstream media have also come up with a game plan for demonizing the second most popular GOP candidate for the presidential nomination, Ron DeSantis. For months, they have tried to minimize and distort his record of successful conservative activism as the governor of Florida who refused to shut down his state’s economy in the face of Covid, fought on behalf of parents seeking to regain control over their children’s educations, and dared to strike back when he was politically attacked by a “woke” Disney corporation. Some Democrats argue that DeSantis is “worse than Trump,” while the Biden White House has repeatedly criticized the way that DeSantis has been governing Florida.
DeSantis has also come under direct attack from Trump himself, but until last week he had refrained from responding by attacking Trump in return. That changed after DeSantis formally announced his candidacy, and hit the early presidential campaign trail in preparation for the first GOP candidates’ debate, sponsored by the Republican National Committee (RNC), that is to be hosted by Fox News in Milwaukee during August.
DESANTIS TESTED HIS CAMPAIGN MESSAGE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
At a campaign event in New Hampshire last week, DeSantis tested his new, anti-Washington establishment presidential message meant to distinguish his candidacy from that of Donald Trump to that state’s libertarian-leaning Republican voters. He began by asking rhetorically why “five of the seven wealthiest counties in this country” border Washington, D.C., and then pledged to fight that establishment on their behalf to protect our “fragile freedoms.”
DeSantis said that the unaccountable federal bureaucracy in Washington has “imposed its will on us for far too long.” Instead, the Florida governor declared, “It’s about time we impose our will on it.”
DeSantis presented himself as a future president who would be capable of doing what Trump failed to do during his previous four years in office, attacking the entrenched so-called “deep state” that the Florida governor described as a “leviathan” pushing its own progressive policy agenda in defiance of the will of the voters. DeSantis also warned that completing that process will take time, perhaps as long as eight years in the White House, whereas Trump could only serve for one more four-year term if he is re-elected, under the two-term presidential limit established by the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
FIRST DIRECT DESANTIS-TRUMP CAMPAIGN CONFRONTATION
DeSantis’s criticism sparked a rapid response from Trump, who was campaigning halfway across the continent in Iowa. The former president promised that the job of taking out the deep state “will [only] take me six months” instead of the eight years that DeSantis had said might be necessary. DeSantis then responded to Trump’s claim by telling voters during a campaign stop in Salem, New Hampshire, that “anyone who says they can slay the deep state in six months should be asked, ‘Why didn’t you do that when you had four years to try?’”
DeSantis then added, only a two-term president would be able to finish that job, because otherwise, “the bureaucrats will wait you out if you’re a lame duck president.” The direct exchange between the two GOP candidates was notable not only because it addressed a substantive political issue, but also because it marked the first time that DeSantis has gone on the offensive, by directly criticizing Trump’s performance while he was president.
The closest that DeSantis had previously come to directly attacking Trump was a statement by his campaign that Trump had been afraid to fire Dr. Antony Fauci as the federal government’s main Covid expert for fear that such a move would generate too much “heat” against Trump in the media, in contrast to DeSantis’s belief that a true national leader wouldn’t “put his own short-term political calculations ahead of the greater good.”
DeSantis also blamed Trump for the loss of the GOP majority in the Senate because the former president had “flubbed so many races over the last four, six years,” by endorsing poorly qualified GOP candidates. DeSantis also insisted that he is the only Republican that can defeat Biden next year, declaring, “We’re not getting a mulligan [do-over] with this 2024 election. We’ve got to get it right,” the Florida governor added.
TRUMP AND DESANTIS BOTH RUNNING ON THEIR RECORDS
Both Trump and DeSantis have invited voters to judge them by their past performance, Trump as president and DeSantis as Florida’s governor, and their long list of accomplishments in those roles, and to expect them to repeat those successes if they are elected president next year.
But DeSantis’s ongoing cultural war in Florida against the liberal activist pushing politically correct “woke” policies distinguishes him from Trump, who ducked answering a question from an Iowa voter last week about the gender-identity controversy as it applies to women’s sports. By contrast, DeSantis proudly boasts that his state of “Florida is where woke goes to die.” He also promised New Hampshire voters last week that as president he would place “woke ideology in the dustbin of history” by weeding out government-mandated diversity policies from public education and the U.S. military.
Uniquely, DeSantis is trying to challenge Trump from the political right, hoping to force Trump to defend his White House record on its merits, rather than simply engaging in a public name-calling contest designed to intimidate anyone who dares to criticize the former president publicly.
While that tactic succeeded in 2016, enabling Trump to defeat all 17 of his GOP opponents for the nomination that year, DeSantis seems confident that he can survive such an onslaught, and then go on to defeat Biden in the 2024 general election.
DESANTIS PROMISES NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTERS VICTORY IN 2024
“If you nominate me, you can set your clock to January 20, 2025, at high noon, because on the west side of the U.S. Capitol, I will be taking the oath of office as the 47th president of the United States,” DeSantis proclaimed at a New Hampshire campaign event held in the gymnasium of Manchester Community College. “No excuses. I will get the job done.”
But it remains very doubtful that enough of Trump’s still extremely loyal supporters will be tempted to switch their support to DeSantis to give him a realistic shot at winning the GOP nomination without the Florida government providing them with a much more compelling argument.
Over the weekend, eight of the GOP presidential candidates came to Iowa to participate in Senator Joni Ernst’s annual summer political gathering known as the “Roast and Ride Event,” at the State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. The event is the kickoff of the campaign which will culminate in January at Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucus which, along with New Hampshire’s primary, traditionally are the first opportunities for ordinary voters to act upon their own personal presidential preferences.
TRUMP ABSENT FROM THE FIRST MAJOR IOWA CAMPAIGN EVENTS
Trump was the only major GOP presidential candidate who was not present for the event. He had visited Iowa earlier that week to attend his own campaign events. But instead of attacking him, Trump’s competitors for the nomination ignored his absence and did not even mention his name, while concentrating instead on delivering their own presidential campaign messages and lobbying the GOP activists in the crowd. Vivek Ramaswamy, for example, touted himself as the first member of the millennial generation to make a run as a serious presidential candidate.
Ernst explained that she had extended Trump a personal invitation a couple of months ago to attend the event. “We made that offer, and everyone is welcome here. . . [but] he has other considerations to think about, whether he does the multi-candidate events or not,” the Iowa senator added.
As the campaign front-runner currently holding a 30-point lead over his nearest rival, Trump felt no need to lower himself to that level by lending his presence to the event. But despite Trump’s physical absence, the many Trump supporters in attendance made their continued preference for the former president as the GOP’s 2024 nominee very clear.
DESANTIS WAS THE MAIN ATTRACTION
Of the GOP candidates present, DeSantis and his family attracted the biggest audience, and he was greeted with a standing ovation even before delivering his campaign remarks, touting his conservative record while governor of Florida.
Meanwhile, the pro-Biden mainstream media has adopted the same tactics it has used to demonize Trump for the past seven years, by deliberately distorting its reporting of DeSantis’s presidential campaign to fit its pre-conceived narrative claiming that he is a poor campaigner who won’t talk to the press and has trouble communicating with the voters.
DeSantis has responded to the criticism by holding dozens of interviews with local reporters during his campaign stops, and taking all kinds of questions during news conferences, yet the mainstream media has refused to correct its false characterization.
DESANTIS VICTIMIZED LIKE TRUMP BY SLANTED NEWS COVERAGE
The issue came to a head last week when a reporter from the Associated Press asked DeSantis while he was talking to sea of voters at a campaign event, “How come you’re not taking questions from voters?” At first, DeSantis seemed to have trouble believing his ears, telling the AP reporter the obvious, that “People are coming up to me, talking to me. What are you talking about?”
Then DeSantis got angry, asking the reporter, “Are you blind? OK, so people are coming up to me, talking to me about whatever they want to talk to me about.”
But instead of correcting the false narrative that DeSantis was not willing to talk to voters, the headlines in the mainstream media which emerged from that incident accused DeSantis instead of unfairly “lashing out” at the biased AP reporter who insisted on asking him that ridiculous question.
It was yet another example of why the mainstream news media has lost so much of its credibility with members of the general public, many of whom now correctly assume that reporters are trying to create stories to fit a pre-conceived storyline instead of simply reporting the truth.
That is why the most recent Gallup poll shows that only 34% of Americans still trust the mainstream media to report the news “fully, accurately, and fairly.”
Another part of the mainstream media’s false narrative meant to disqualify DeSantis describes him incorrectly as unlikeable, ignoring the fact that last November he won re-election to a second term as Florida governor by a record 19-point margin, and even winning in many of the state’s longtime Democrat voter strongholds.
DESANTIS’S CONSERVATIVE RECORD OF ACCOMPLISHMENT IN FLORIDA
The news media has also deliberately mislabeled DeSantis as a conservative extremist, falsely accusing him of banning books, refusing to allow the teaching of black history, and persecuting illegal immigrants, when in fact he is only trying to protect traditional American social and moral values from liberal attacks, and the right of parents to raise and educate their own children as they see fit.
Florida also now has its own law to control illegal immigration, which requires employers with at least 25 workers to verify their legal immigration status, imposes penalties upon anyone caught transporting illegal aliens across state lines, and invalidates the driver’s licenses issued by other states to illegal immigrants.
Thanks to the state legislation that DeSantis introduced, Florida also now has universal school choice, making all families, regardless of income, eligible for a credit of up to $8,000 a child, which they can use to pay tuition at the school or yeshiva of their choice.
That is only part of the long list of DeSantis’s legislative and policy accomplishments in Florida, giving him a track record that can compare with all that Trump was able to accomplish during his four years in the White House.
While it is true that DeSantis does not have Trump’s unique media skills and ability to win the loyalty of his supporters, he has demonstrated superior executive skills as Florida’s governor and a strong dedication to conservative values which Republican voters should consider when choosing their preferred 2024 presidential candidate.
BIDEN’S VULNERABILITY ATTRACTS MORE GOP CANDIDATES
Meanwhile, Biden’s newly apparent age vulnerability, combined with a recent decline in the level of GOP voter support for DeSantis’s presidential candidacy, has rekindled the interest of almost a dozen other respectable Republicans in challenging Trump, despite his current commanding lead in the race for the GOP’s nomination. Many of them, including DeSantis, who is only 44, are a full generation younger than either Trump or Biden.
Some of the GOP candidates, such as South Carolina’s former governor Nikki Haley, and the state’s current senator, Tim Scott, would likely neutralize any electoral advantage Biden might hope to gain among women and voters of color, thanks to the race and gender of his running mate, Kamala Harris, who is at least as unpopular as Biden. Her performance as vice president has been so bad that she has made Biden look good by comparison.
WHY THE DEMOCRATS ARE STICKING WITH BIDEN AND HARRIS
Last year, many Democrats and liberal media pundits started a quiet campaign to pressure both Biden and Harris to step aside to allow younger and more attractive Democrats to take their place on the 2024 ticket. Identifying a suitably qualified Democrat replacement for Biden was problematic. The shortlist included California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, who recently survived a serious recall election; Biden’s embarrassingly incompetent Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg; and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer — none of whom generated much enthusiasm among Democrat activists and grassroots voters.
As a result, when President Biden’s popularity temporarily improved somewhat last summer, after a string of Democrat legislative victories over the Republicans in the Senate, the campaign to replace him and Harris at the top of the 2024 ticket rapidly fizzled out. Democrats then began trying to convince themselves that, despite his age and dismal poll numbers, Biden was still likely to win a second term, especially if Trump was his opponent again, and that trying to oust Harris as Biden’s running mate would likely trigger a nasty revolt by the party’s black and women’s rights activists.
On the other hand, while Trump is just four years younger than Biden, he has always seemed to be far more vigorous. While his opponents often challenged Trump’s mental fitness during his first term in office, few now question his physical ability, if elected, to serve to the end of another term as president, when he would be 82. In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 73 percent said that Biden is too old to serve as president again, compared with 51 percent who said the same of Trump.
AGE IS PROBABLY WHY BIDEN’S JOB APPROVAL RATINGS REMAIN SO LOW
The public’s ongoing concerns about Biden’s advanced age and the nagging questions about his mental competency are probably one of the main reasons why the president’s dismal job approval numbers have failed to benefit from his most recent flurry of significant political accomplishments.
Since the beginning of May, the White House has been able to celebrate a significant reduction in the rate of inflation, capped by a May jobs report, issued last week, showing the economy producing far more jobs than had been expected, defying widespread predictions of a looming recession. The predicted surge in illegal immigration due to the expiration in May of Title 42 authority to deport those detained at the border never materialized. Biden was also able to backtrack to reach an acceptable compromise with GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy that resolved the looming debt ceiling crisis and avoided a potentially catastrophic federal government default.
Yet despite these successes over the same month of May, Biden’s job approval numbers, tracked by the RealClearPolitics website, continued to deteriorate, starting at 42.5% (negative 11.2%) on May 1, and falling to 41.8% (negative 14.3 percent) by June 1.
Ongoing concern about Biden’s age is not the only reason why most voters are dissatisfied with his job performance. No doubt, the stubborn persistence of inflation combined with worries about a still widely expected recession also weighs heavily on Biden’s popularity, as does the U.S. involvement in the war against the Russians in Ukraine. But aside from these important policy questions, the physical ability to do the job over the next four years also has to be considered a fundamental requirement for any presidential candidate, and in Biden’s case, that ability remains seriously in doubt.
BIDEN DOUBLES DOWN ON HIS ‘MAGA’ REPUBLICAN RHETORIC
Since the public remains largely unimpressed with Biden’s claims of accomplishment in office, he and his fellow Democrats are doubling down on their strategy of demonizing all of their GOP opponents as radical “MAGA” Republicans, rather than focusing exclusively on Trump himself. That strategy was evident during the public debate over the debt ceiling crisis, with Biden and the Democrats making false claims that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and his fellow Republicans were intent on forcing deep spending cuts that would destroy Social Security, Medicare, the rest of the government social safety net programs and the Biden administration’s progressive policy accomplishments.
But none of those accusations were true, as became evident when the relatively modest spending changes in the final debt ceiling agreement were revealed, and won broad bipartisan support in the final votes on the measure in the House and Senate. The outcome was rightly characterized as a major political victory for Speaker McCarthy, by forcing Biden to the negotiating table on the debt ceiling against his will. McCarthy was also credited with crafting a well-balanced piece of legislation that found enough supporters on both sides of the political aisle in the House and Senate to be passed and signed into law.
TRYING TO REVIVE THE MYTH OF BIDEN’S BIPARTISANSHIP
Meanwhile, the pro-Biden mainstream media spin machine has switched gears, and now claims that the debt ceiling compromise that Biden was forced to negotiate with House Speaker McCarthy, much against his will, is proof that he really is the bi-partisan consensus maker he claimed to be in the 2020 presidential campaign after all. Never mind that since he became president, Biden and his fellow Democrats have made very few efforts to reach any kind of consensus with the GOP opposition and sought to impose their radical, socialist-inspired agenda on the American people.
They have sought to impose the entire liberal/progressive/woke agenda on this country with the tiniest of legislative majorities, first in the House, and now in the Senate. They include radical policies on law and order, immigration, education, climate change, and gender identity which most working-class and middle-class American families strongly oppose, as well as attacks on the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the fundamental legitimacy of America’s democratic heritage.
THE GROWING DEMOCRAT PRIMARY PROTEST VOTE
So far, only two obscure left-wing Democrat candidates, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson, have dared to challenge Biden for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination. Despite the fact that both are largely unknown to most Democrat voters, they currently have a combined support of nearly 30% in the early Democrat primary polls. Rather than reflecting their own personal popularity, that 30% figure is widely interpreted as a form of Democrat voter protest against the lack of any viable alternative to Biden’s candidacy.
Of the two, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the more serious presidential candidate. He is an anti-vaccine activist and has a populist, anti-big business campaign platform. Kennedy also benefits from the legend of his famous namesake father, the former attorney general, New York senator, and a leading candidate for the Democrat presidential nomination, who was assassinated by a Palestinian Arab on the night that he won the 1968 California primary.
Marianne Williamson ran for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination as a progressive candidate and called for the government to provide a universal basic income for all Americans. She endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders after she exited that race.
However, for the time being, the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) are pretending that the two challengers for the nomination simply don’t exist and can be safely ignored. If he could get away with that, it would save Biden from the potential trouble of being forced to face those opponents, unscripted, in a live nationally televised debate, as well as sparing him from the rigors and likely gaffes Biden might make while touring the country to conduct a traditional Democrat primary campaign.
HOW MANY DEMOCRATS WILL STAY HOME ON ELECTION DAY?
While neither Kennedy nor Williamson is likely to mount a serious challenge to Biden’s nomination, the chief danger for Biden is that the nearly 30% of Democrats who now say they support the two other candidates could choose to stay home on 2024 Election Day. That would grant the presidency by default to Biden’s opponent, most likely Donald Trump, or possibly Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, or one of the others now running for the GOP nomination.
Because the determined efforts by the White House and the mainstream media to highlight Biden’s policy successes have clearly failed to generate any new voter enthusiasm for his 2024 re-election campaign, the focus of media attention has now shifted to the race for the Republican nomination, and the surprisingly large number of credible GOP candidates willing to take on the daunting political task of challenging Donald Trump for the 2024 nomination.
The pro-Biden mainstream news media has gone to great lengths to keep Donald Trump and his current multiple legal problems in the spotlight. Their concentration on the politically motivated prosecutions and investigations into Trump, which many legal experts have dismissed as, at best, highly questionable, or at worst, totally unjustified, has backfired badly. It is generating more outrage among Trump’s supporters who still believe that he was cheated out of an electoral victory in 2020, and a significant amount of sympathy from many other voters who have recognized that Trump is being treated with a very unfair double legal standard.
TRUMP EXTENDS HIS OVERWHELMING LEAD IN THE GOP POLLS
Trump’s lead over DeSantis in GOP voter polls has grown from 17.6% (46.6% to 29.0%) on April 1, to 30.8% (53.2% to 22.4%) at the end of May. This has given the other GOP presidential candidates an opportunity to compete for DeSantis’ lost Republican voters, but so far none of them has been able to grow their support enough to reach double digits in the polls. Instead, DeSantis’s lost support has enabled Trump to extend his already substantial lead to slightly more than half (53%) of all surveyed Republican voters. In third place in the GOP polls, behind DeSantis, is Nikki Haley, with 4.4%, followed by former vice president Mike Pence, with 3.8%, and successful entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who is self-funding his campaign, with 2.6%. The rest of the GOP field, including both announced and still unannounced candidates, each polled at less than 2.0%.
This also works to Trump’s advantage, because as more Republican candidates enter the race at the bottom of the polls, it becomes that much more difficult for each one of them to distinguish themselves in the eyes of GOP voters and break out from the rest of the pack.
It’s a matter of simple math: Each new candidate drains more support from the potential anti-Trump Republican coalition that the DeSantis campaign hopes to build, whether it be Mike Pence’s appeal to Christian evangelicals or Tim Scott’s popularity with college-educated suburbanites, or Nikki Haley’s appeal for a younger candidate more likely to survive and remain fully functional to the end of his presidency. Meanwhile, the core of Trump’s grassroots support, which accounts for more than 30 percent of all Republican voters, can be expected to remain loyal to him, enabling him to dominate the primary election process, as he did in 2016.
Not surprisingly, Trump’s campaign advisors have welcomed each new candidate who enters the primary race for the GOP nomination, as another contributor to their divide-and-conquer strategy to rapidly build up an insurmountable lead in GOP convention delegates, one state primary or caucus at a time.
TRUMP IS THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP HIS MOMENTUM
The only apparent way to stop Trump’s momentum to gain the 2024 GOP nomination would be for him to stumble badly in a way that would alienate his loyal voter base, which at this point seems highly unlikely.
In the meantime, each of the GOP candidates is competing with one another for media attention and campaign contributions, while testing out the response of GOP voters to their own campaign message.
DeSantis is one of the leaders in the race to generate financial support for his presidential campaign. During the first 24 hours after DeSantis formally announced his presidential candidacy, his campaign raised a record $8.2 million from a total of around 40,000, for an average of more than $200 per donor, a relatively high figure for an on-line political fundraising campaign.
The $8.2 million initially collected by the DeSantis campaign compares favorably to the previous presidential primary fundraising record which was set in 2019 by Senator Bernie Sanders, who raise $5.9 million in the first 24 hours from 223,000 donors, for an average donation of around $26. According to federal election laws, the maximum allowable donation to a presidential primary campaign is $3,300 per donor. As a result, campaigns generally prefer larger numbers of smaller contributors rather than a smaller number of larger contributors, because the smaller contributors can each give again and again during the course of a campaign without exceeding the maximum legal amount.
Senator Scott launched his campaign with nearly $22 million on hand and promptly raised $2 million more, while Vivek Ramaswamy is using $10 million of his own money to finance his campaign.
RNC SETS ITS FIRST DEBATE REQUIREMENTS
In an apparent coincidence, the 40,000 initial contributors announced by the DeSantis campaign is the exact threshold number announced by the RNC last week as the minimum required for a GOP candidate to qualify for the August debate, in addition to each candidate winning at least 1% of voter support in the major polls. The debate’s outcome is expected to quickly reduce the field of GOP candidates to a smaller and much more manageable number.
As the two current front-runners, the debate performance by both Trump (assuming that he chooses to participate) and DeSantis will be closely watched. It will also provide the other candidates appearing on the debate stage with their best opportunity to distinguish themselves from their competitors in front of a large national television audience of Republican voters.
There has been a lot of media speculation that during that August debate, Trump may come under direct attack by former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, a former ally of Trump, who is now one of his most outspoken Republican critics. Christie, who announced his candidacy this week, is a former federal prosecutor and a very skilled debater who singlehandedly destroyed the presidential hopes of Florida Senator Marco Rubio during one of the early 2016 GOP candidate debates.
CAN CHRIS CHRISTIE TAKE DOWN TRUMP IN DEBATE?
Christie is clearly unafraid to take on Trump in a mud-slinging contest during the August debate. For example, in reaction to Trump’s controversial appearance on a recent CNN town hall broadcast, Christie expressed his outrage at Trump’s refusal to condemn Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. “I think he’s a coward and I think he’s a puppet of Putin,” Christie said of Trump during a radio interview. “He wouldn’t say. . . that Ukraine should win the war. I mean, I was stunned. It was, to me, it was the most stunning moment of the [CNN program].”
Christie’s 2016 presidential campaign self-destructed after Christie was implicated in a politically motivated plot to create chaos at the New Jersey entrance to the George Washington Bridge. But aside from that, he was very successful as a two-term governor of New Jersey, as well as a popular political commentator. Christie was one of the few Republican voices after the 2016 election who was still allowed to speak his mind on the mainstream media.
Christie has also received a back-handed endorsement from veteran Wall Street Journal commentator Peggy Noonan. She believes that Christie may be the only other candidate in the race who can stop Trump’s momentum before he receives his third straight GOP presidential nomination, and thereby rescue the remnants of the Republican Party as we have previously known it.
THE FUTURE OF THE GOP IS AT STAKE
Noonan writes that “If the party chooses Trump in 2024 it will mean it has changed its essential nature and meaning, and that it is split in a way that can’t be resolved by time. . .
“Republicans of the suburbs, of the more educated and affluent places. . .will leave. Some will go third-party. . . Some will blend into the Democratic Party and hope they can improve things there.
“Trump supporters will stay on in a smaller, less competent party. But they will, as time passes, get tired of losing and also drift on somewhere.
“But there will be no Republican Party after a Trump ’24 race, which. . . means that the Republican Party [will] disappear as a force in American political history.
This is the same dire warning that the Republican never-Trumpers, originally led by the GOP’s 2012 presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, have been sounding ever since Trump took a commanding lead in the 2016 Republican primary campaign.
TRUMP HAS LEFT HIS MARK ON U.S. POLITICAL HISTORY
There is no doubt that Trump has significantly, and probably permanently, changed the basic demographic makeup and policy priorities of the Republican party, but that is not necessarily a bad thing for the country, or for the party itself. Thanks to Trump, the GOP has a new, working-class voter base, which has been totally abandoned by the Democrats. In addition to its basic conservative principles, the Republican Party also now has an effective appeal to minority voters, including both blacks and Hispanics. Its populist, strongly patriotic message and mission, has a much broader appeal to American voters than it had before Trump came down the escalator in his Manhattan home to announce his long-shot candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination in 2015.
Whether Trump has the discipline needed to stay on message long enough to execute his strategy to win the GOP nomination, and then defeat the aging Biden in the general election next November still remains to be seen. But win or lose, Trump has already permanently transformed the basic nature of American partisan politics, and assured his own highly controversial place in this country’s history.