Tuesday, Jun 18, 2024

Polls Point To 2024 Biden-Trump Rematch

Even though the first of the 2024 presidential primaries and caucuses are more than four months away, it appears that both the Republican and Democrat parties have already effectively chosen their candidates, former president Donald Trump and current incumbent Joe Biden, despite their glaring shortcomings.

In Trump’s case, the major threat to his candidacy is the possibility that he could be tried and convicted of one or more of the criminal charges and investigations currently being pursued against him by federal special counsel Jack Smith, as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Atlanta (Fulton County) Fani Willis. Trump insists that he is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, that all of the accusations against him are politically motivated, by his Democrat enemies to prevent him from running in the 2024 election.

In Biden’s case, his advanced age and his obvious cognitive challenges have raised serious doubts, even among his most ardent supporters, about his ability to carry out his duties as president for the next six years through the end of a second term. In addition, despite recent signs of a recovering national economy, Biden continues to suffer from very low job approval ratings in the eyes of the voters, both in general as well as on a number of specific issues, ranging from his Covid vaccine and masking mandates, to the massive increase in the flow of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, to the botched U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, and, most recently the runaway inflation touched off by his liberal spending policies.

Nevertheless, none of the candidates who have come forth so far to challenge Trump and Biden for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination has been able to generate anywhere near the popularity of the two frontrunners.

DEMOCRATS WORRIED ABOUT BIDEN’S AGE

On the Democrat side, there has been a concerted effort by party leaders and the liberal mainstream news media to discredit the two lesser-known candidates who have dared to challenge Biden for the nomination. They have labeled environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and author Marianne Williamson, as “fringe” candidates unworthy of being taken seriously.

Biden’s supporters have concentrated their attack on the record of the more popular and well known of the two, Mr. Kennedy. He is currently supported by 13.7% of polled Democrat voters, compared to 63.2% who say they support Biden, and just 5.3% who support Williamson. The nearly 18% of all Democrats unwilling to voice support for any of the three candidates is also seen as a sign of Biden’s vulnerability in the general election.

Many Democrat strategists quietly admit that they are seriously worried about Biden’s advanced age, and troubling indications of his progressing enfeeblement. But they also feel trapped by the fact that if Biden is forced to drop his bid for re-election, the party will be stuck with no alternative to the incompetent vice president, Kamala Harris, as Biden’s default replacement at the top of the ticket.

DEMOCRATS STUCK WITH HARRIS AS BIDEN’S DEFAULT REPLACEMENT

If another Democrat, such as California Governor Gavin Newsom, then comes forward to challenge Harris for the presidential nomination after Biden drops out, the fight that would be put up by Harris’s black and feminist supporters could split the party, likely dooming Democrat chances for victory in the general election.

According to conservative commentator Victor Davis Hanson, “The presence of the now predictable mediocrity of Kamala Harris and the impossibility, given her race and gender, of removing her, for now is about all that keeps a cognitively declining Biden still in office. The Left fears what she could do as president to the Democratic Party; conservatives are terrified of what she could do to the country.”

Hanson also notes that “the open disregard for Kamala Harris is not just a Republican phenomenon. Her dismal popularity reflects that such disappointment in her is bipartisan. And now the likely machinations mentioned to keep her out of the presidency are undoing all the racial and gender pandering that explain her otherwise inexplicable appointment [to serve as Biden’s vice-presidential running mate] in the first place.”

A LIBERAL DARK HORSE NAMED ROBERT F. KENNEDY

Similarly, Washington Examiner commentator Charles Hurt notes that, “In this strange political moment in America, few things are stranger than realizing that the Democratic Party’s version of Donald Trump is named Kennedy.

“For all his blue-chip political pedigree, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is running an outsider, speak-truth-to-power, barbarians-at-the-gate campaign for president. His instant popularity among [one out of seven] Democratic voters is proof that the same yearnings that gave rise to Mr. Trump in 2016 lie untapped inside the Democratic Party, too.”

“I feel like my country is being taken away from me,” Kennedy told a reporter from Time magazine last month. “I want to restore in many ways the America of my youth, the America I was brought up in.”

In his open challenge to Biden’s bid for re-election, Kennedy is now receiving the same kind of vitriol from the media that is most often directed at former president Trump.

During his career as an environmentalist lawyer, Kennedy was considered to be a left-wing hero because he devoted himself to cleaning up chemicals dumped in rivers by big, greedy corporations under the lazy eye of government. But in more recent years, when he began to wonder whether the chemicals in vaccines being dumped into the veins of children by big, greedy corporations under the lazy eye of government could be responsible for the spread of previously little-known children’s diseases, such as autism, Kennedy has been harshly criticized by his former left-wing supporters as a potentially dangerous anti-vaccine fanatic.

A FALSE CHARGE OF COVID-RELATED ANTISEMITISM

Most recently, in an attempt to more fully discredit Kennedy as a legitimate challenger to Biden’s bid for a second term, his enemies have accused him of antisemitism based upon a quote published by the New York Post of a Kennedy remark at a private dinner party at an Upper East Side Manhattan restaurant that was deliberately taken out of context.

Citing a recently published scientific study, Kennedy allegedly said, “There is an argument that [Covid-19] attacks certain races disproportionately. Covid-19 is targeted to attack Caucasians and Black people. The people who are most immune are Ashkenazi Jews and Chinese.”

“We don’t know whether it was deliberately targeted or not but there are papers out there that show the racial or ethnic differential and impact,” Kennedy added.

Kennedy’s claim that Covid-19 virus might have been genetically engineered as a biological weapon by the Chinese scientists at the Wuhan laboratory, and then somehow got away, has been so widely disseminated by reputable scientists that it no longer qualifies as news. Certainly, the Chinese who conducted the forbidden viral experiments at the Wuhan lab still have a lot of explaining to do, as do the prominent American scientists and federal government agencies which supported that work, and Kennedy deserves credit for being willing to publicly talk about it.

But nowhere did Kennedy say anything about Ashkenazi Jews being responsible for creating the virus. It clearly did not originate in one of their labs or in their country. Kennedy merely stated that in this one case, the Ashkenazic Jewish genetic heritage did provide a small advantage to Jews who contracted the disease, but not enough to prevent the virus from killing many Jews in both Israel and the United States during the pandemic.

But that did not stop Kennedy’s left-wing opponents, desperate to reverse the popularity of his challenge to Biden’s 2024 candidacy, from accusing him of antisemitism for something he did not say.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted that, “These are deeply troubling comments and I want to make clear that they do not represent the views of the Democratic Party.”

Florida Democrat Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on Twitter that Kennedy’s comments represented “vile antisemitic tropes and Sinophobia” and insulted “countless families who lost loved ones to the virus.” Wasserman then circulated a letter among her fellow

Democrats, urging them to disinvite Kennedy from testifying before a congressional hearing on free speech, over his allegedly “despicable antisemitic and anti-Asian comments.”

During the opening remarks of his testimony before the committee, Kennedy waved a copy of Wasserman’s letter in the air and declared, “I know many of the people who wrote this letter. I don’t believe there’s a single person who signed this letter who believes I’m antisemitic.”

The same accusation came from the left-wing Anti-Defamation League, which declared that Kennedy’s alleged “claim that Covid-19 was a bioweapon created by the Chinese or the Jews to attack Caucasians and Black people is deeply offensive and feeds into Sinophobic and antisemitic conspiracy theories about Covid-19 that we have seen evolve over the last three years.”

Kennedy replied to the false accusation by declaring that the New York Post’s report on his comments was “mistaken,” and that he “never, ever suggested that the Covid-19 virus was targeted to spare Jews.” He then added that, “I do not believe and never implied that the ethnic effect was deliberately engineered.”

But despite the effort by Biden supporters to destroy Kennedy’s reputation, a Harvard-Harris poll taken after the controversy broke still places Kennedy in first place with a 47% favorability rating. That puts him ahead of Biden, Trump, DeSantis and every other candidate now running for president. His un-favorability rating is also the lowest among all the candidates, at just 26 percent.

Kennedy’s durable popularity with Democrat voters is based in part upon his record as an outspoken liberal advocate for free speech and the environment, and in part on his heritage as the son of Attorney General Robert Kennedy and the nephew of President John F. Kennedy. That is why he is increasingly being viewed as a serious challenger to Joe Biden’s bid for a second term as president.

KENNEDY’S OUTSPOKEN LIBERAL POLICY POSITIONS

Kennedy is a legitimate presidential candidate with a fully developed populist political message designed to appeal to liberal voters.

During a recent townhall-style interview hosted by Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, Kennedy said: “We have a system of cushy socialism for the super-rich and this brutal, savage, merciless capitalism for the poor. And it’s all designed to strip-mine the middle class in this country of all their equity, all of their assets and move it to the upper echelons.

“And the Covid lockdowns were the final straw. [During] 500 days of lockdowns we created a billionaire a day. We moved $4 trillion from the middle class to the super-rich. The people who came into the lockdown with $1 billion increased their wealth on average by 30%. We closed 3.3 million businesses.”

It is easy to see why much of the liberal political establishment wants Kennedy to be silenced, while millions of American voters believe they have found their new dark horse champion for the 2024 presidential race. That is why one of the major problems facing Kennedy is that much of the mainstream media refuses to give him access to their airtime, and explains why he has been willing to make so many appearances on Fox News, which has no problem in recognizing him as the only serious Democrat challenger to President Joe Biden.

DESANTIS STUMBLE CREATES AN OPPORTUNITY

Meanwhile, on the Republican side of the presidential selection process, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who entered the race as Trump’s nearest competitor in a large field of candidates, has been steadily losing ground in the polls. This has enabled Trump to increase his lead over DeSantis in the latest national polls to an average of more than 35 points.

The Florida governor’s stumble has created an opportunity for several of the other GOP candidates, including political newcomer Vivek Ramaswamy, former Vice President Mike Pence, former South Carolina Governor and U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to compete for the votes of the disillusioned DeSantis supporters who are now up for grabs.

OTHER GOP CANDIDATES ARE GUN-SHY

However, most of Trump’s challengers for the GOP nomination have been unwilling to criticize him directly when given the opportunity, for fear of alienating the more than one-third of all GOP voters who still remain stubbornly loyal to the former president. Most recently, when 13 presidential candidates, including Trump, delivered separate, 10-minute speeches to an audience of more than 1,200 GOP activists attending a state GOP-sponsored dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, only former Texas Congressman Will Hurd had the courage to suggest that Trump’s desire to escape his legal troubles is now the prime motivation for his campaign

After Hurd said, “Donald Trump is not running to make America great again. Donald Trump is not running for president to represent the people that voted for him in 2016 or 2020. Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison,” a chorus of boos and clattering silverware erupted from the angered Trump supporters in the audience as Hurd left the stage. The reaction demonstrated how the criminal charges lodged against Trump have boomeranged by strengthening the support of many Republican voters, who see them as unfair, for his candidacy.

Trump, who was the last speaker on the program, ignored Hurd’s criticism and quickly launched a direct attack on DeSantis, who is still, by far, his closest rival in the GOP polls. Trump labeled the Florida governor as an “establishment globalist” and warned that he cannot be trusted to reinstate Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) policies as president, despite DeSantis’s claims to the contrary.” The crowd also responded with applause and laughter when Trump belittled the Florida governor by calling him the derogatory nickname “DeSanctimonious,” that Trump had previously invented.

DeSantis, who has been trying to challenge Trump from the right in his recent speeches, without mentioning him by name, received a respectful hearing from the Des Moines audience. But the crowd’s much more enthusiastic reception for Trump validated the findings of the most recent polls predicting the outcome of Iowa’s January 15 first-in-the-nation caucus. The Fox Business survey gave Trump a commanding 30-point lead (46%-16%) over DeSantis. That poll also showed moderate black GOP Senator Tim Scott, who has criticized the treatment of slavery in the American history curriculum that DeSantis has introduced into Florida schools, rising from the pack to third place with 11% support, closing the gap with DeSantis who is now ahead of him in the Iowa polls by just 5 points.

Notable for his absence from the Des Moines stage was former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He alone among the GOP candidates has made attacking Trump’s credibility the primary mission of his candidacy. But Christie, who did poorly in the Iowa caucuses during his previous presidential run in 2016, said that he was too busy concentrating his efforts on the primary races in New Hampshire and South Carolina, which immediately follow Iowa, to participate in the Des Moines event.

LOOKING FORWARD TO THE FIRST GOP DEBATE

The next major public event on the GOP 2024 presidential primary schedule is a televised debate to be held in Milwaukee on August 23. It will be the first time that voters will be able to see the GOP candidates directly challenge one another face-to-face, forcing them to defend their respective policies under live questioning. Because Trump is currently so far ahead of his GOP rivals in the polls, he has little to gain by participating in the debate, but potentially much to lose should he make a serious mistake on stage, which is why he has not yet announced whether he will agree to take part.

Trump and his legal team are now expecting at least one more federal indictment from special counsel Jack Smith, related to his role in the riot by Trump supporters at the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. He also may face criminal charges from a state grand jury in Atlanta, Georgia, which has been investigating Trump’s efforts pressing state officials to overturn the official 2020 presidential vote count in Georgia, which narrowly declared Joe Biden to be the winner by a margin of 11,779 votes.

WHY TRUMP’S POPULARITY IS IMMUNE TO INDICTMENTS

For an ordinary political candidate, such criminal indictments would be fatal to their hopes for an electoral victory, but in Trump’s case the opposite is true. After seven years of ceaseless Democrat and Justice Department efforts to discredit Trump with false accusations, starting with the Trump-Russia 2016 election collusion hoax, followed by two failed impeachment trials, all of his current supporters, as well as many independent voters, are now inclined to accept Trump’s claim that he is innocent of any serious wrongdoing, and that his current legal troubles are all politically motivated.

Trump’s claim that he is being denied equal justice under the law has been further reinforced by the collapse last week of the Justice Department’s sweetheart plea deal for the president’s son, Hunter Biden. Biden administration prosecutors would have permitted Hunter to walk free despite his admission to having committed serious federal crimes, including multiple counts of tax evasion and falsifying a gun permit.

The plea deal collapsed because the federal judge hearing the case refused to agree to immunize Biden’s son against prosecution for other serious crimes that he committed, including serving as an unregistered paid agent for a foreign power.

TRUMP SEEN AS A VICTIM OF A DOUBLE STANDARD OF JUSTICE

The contrast between the ways in which the Justice Department has treated Biden’s son and the former president could not be more vivid. After slow-walking the investigation of Hunter Biden for five years, high-ranking Justice Department and FBI officials hid and then tried to discredit the most serious evidence against him from both the American people and members of Congress. As further evidence of his wrongdoing surfaced, federal prosecutors then offered to excuse the younger Biden with what amounted to a slap on the wrist, excusing him from any jail time, and including a guarantee that any further evidence against him, which might further implicate his father, the president, would never see the light of day.

By employing questionable legal tactics that are usually tolerated only in the most corrupt third-world dictatorships, Manhattan District Attorney Bragg, and Atlanta DA Willis and federal special counsel Jack Smith elevated petty issues of no serious consequence into accusations of major crimes in an effort to discredit former president Trump and prevent him for running for re-election in 2024.

But the unique history of Trump’s political rise strongly suggests that even if he is convicted and sentenced to prison, practically all of his current GOP supporters are likely to stick by him, convinced that he is, as he has often claimed, the innocent victim of a serious miscarriage of justice.

TRUMP’S FOLLOWERS REMAINING FAITHFUL

A newly published New York Times/Sienna poll of GOP voters reveals the remarkable breadth and durability of Trump’s base of support. The poll identified the 319 respondents, representing 37% of all Republicans surveyed, who said that they would “strongly” support Trump in the Republican primary and have a “very favorable” view of him, as the core of his MAGA voter base. They are typically from a blue-collar background, hold conservative political views, and believe that under Joe Biden’s leadership the nation is on the verge of catastrophe.

More than 90% of these MAGA Trump supporters said they believe that all Republicans should stand behind Trump in face of the criminal accusations against him. Only 2% are willing to concede that Trump “did something wrong” by holding onto government documents after leaving office, but not a single one of Trump’s supporters said they think that by doing so he committed a serious federal crime.

The relative size of the segment of Republican Trump supporters has remained surprisingly constant over the years. On Super Tuesday 2016, when Trump was still competing against a broad range of opponents for the nomination, he won 37% of the vote. Even at the low-point of his support, in January of this year, when Trump was being blamed by party leaders for the loss of the Republican majority in the Senate, he was still the declared favorite of 41% of the Republicans polled at that time.

In part because of the sympathy generated by the criminal indictments against him, Trump’s popularity with Republicans quickly recovered. Today, he is the overwhelming favorite of almost every major subgroup of GOP voters. That includes men and women, younger and older voters, moderates and conservatives, those with or without a college education, and Republicans who live in cities, suburbs and rural areas. DeSantis still trails, but does somewhat better among the more economically upscale voter groups, but the only Republican demographic in which DeSantis can match the level of Trump’s support is among white college-educated voters.

DeSantis’s appeal to Trump voters is based upon the claim that he can deliver the same supply-side economic policies, support for traditional American democratic and moral values and an America-first foreign policy that made Trump’s first term so successful, but without all of the chaos and controversy which characterized his presidency.

But according to the New York Times poll, most Republicans see no need to transfer their allegiance to a new and untested candidate promising to emulate Trump’s policies when the original is still available and running for re-election.

As governor, DeSantis was very successful in guiding Florida to a swift recovery from the Covid pandemic, by creating the much less restrictive and pro-business environment which has made it one of the fastest growing states in the country. But instead of emphasizing his successful economic record, DeSantis has chosen to take the lead in waging a cultural war against all those who “promote woke left ideology.” He boasts at his campaign events that under his rule, “Florida is where woke goes to die.”

DeSantis also entered into a controversial fight with the Disney corporation, which has long played a crucial role in Florida’s tourism-based economy, after it criticized his conservative education policies. As a result, DeSantis has become almost as controversial and unpopular among liberals as Trump himself.

DeSantis accuses Trump of having led to the creation of a “culture of losing” in the GOP during the last three national election cycles by throwing his support behind a number of weak and unqualified GOP primary candidates, who then lost to beatable Democrats in the general election. By contrast, if he wins the nomination, DeSantis promises to repeat the success he enjoyed last November in winning re-election to a second term as Florida’s governor by an astounding 19-point margin against a strong Democrat opponent.

TRUMP MAKES POLITICS MORE “FUN”

Unlike Trump, DeSantis fits the ideal stereotype for a successful Republican candidate, as a still youthful, conservative, dedicated family man who served with the U.S. military during the Iraq war and then for two terms in the House of Representatives before becoming Florida’s governor five years ago. But DeSantis lacks Trump’s charismatic showmanship, as well as his rare ability to deeply connect with his supporters and win their trust by becoming a messenger for their political grievances and cultural concerns. As a result, DeSantis cannot come anywhere near the same level of voter loyalty and enthusiasm that Trump routinely generates among his followers.

As Sandra Reher, 75, a retired teacher in Farmingdale, N.J., explained to a New York Times reporter, while DeSantis “comes across as a good Christian [and a] wonderful family man. . . he doesn’t have that fire, if you will, that Trump has.” Nor, she complained, does DeSantis have the same entertaining sense of “humor” which makes supporting Trump so much more “fun.”

Even though Trump’s personal profile does not fit the typical Republican model, he has still won the gratitude of many Republicans for creating a reliably conservative majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices. Over the past two years, they have overturned some of its most controversial prior liberal decisions, beginning with Roe v. Wade, as well as rulings upholding personal religious rights, and striking down as discriminatory college admission affirmative action programs.

Trump commands the allegiance of 54% of all the GOP voters surveyed in the NY Times poll, compared to 17% for DeSantis, 3% each for Pence, Haley and Scott, 2% each for Christie and Ramaswamy, and less than 1% each for the rest of the GOP field of candidates.

DESANTIS SUFFERING FROM AN ENTHUSIASM GAP

Trump also enjoys an important advantage over DeSantis in the enthusiasm of his supporters. Of the 43% of surveyed Republicans who said they have a “very favorable” opinion of Trump, 92% said that they would vote for him rather than DeSantis in a head-to-head race. By contrast, the 25% of Republican primary voters who say they have a “very favorable” opinion of DeSantis, are split evenly, narrowly favoring Trump by 49% to 48%, when asked to choose between the two of them.

Assuming that the 37% of MAGA Republicans will stick with Trump no matter what, his opponents for the GOP nomination will be competing with one another for the allegiance of the remaining 17% of Trump supporters who say they are not permanently committed to the former president, as well as the 46% currently not supporting Trump. Each of Trump’s opponents needs to make the case that he or she has a better chance to beat Biden in the November 2024 general election, because they can appeal to the independent voters who voted for Trump in 2016 but Biden in 2020, and who are still beyond the reach of Trump’s campaign.

Because Trump already enjoys the support of more than 50% of GOP voters, to stop him his opponents will need to quickly unite behind the most popular candidate among them, ideally before Super Tuesday, March 5, when 15 states will hold their primaries. Otherwise, Trump will be able to build up an insurmountable early lead due to the winner-take-all or winner take most rules in 28 states for the distribution of GOP convention delegates.

If the GOP opponents to Trump can agree on a single candidate to challenge him in the primaries, that candidate will have to be very careful not to alienate the bulk of Trump’s dedicated supporters, lest they decide to stay home on Election Day, November 5, 2024, if Trump does not win the GOP nomination.

If one eliminates those GOP voters currently supporting Trump, DeSantis currently is favored by about one-third of the remainder, with Chris Christie, Tim Scott, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy each with between 5 and 10 percent of the vote. Even if Trump decides to skip the August 23 televised debate in Milwaukee, the performance of each of those second-tier candidates will be closely scrutinized to determine who will be most likely to take over as Trump’s leading challenger if the DeSantis campaign continues to falter.

DESANTIS IN POLITICAL DENIAL

In a televised interview with Fox News reporter Brett Baer, DeSantis denied that his campaign is in crisis, and confidently predicted that he will regain the lost momentum that has cost him 12 points in the polls since the beginning of April. But it is clear that in order for DeSantis to recover, he needs to reconsider his current strategy of attacking Trump from the far right, which simply isn’t working. Instead, DeSantis needs to find a way to soften the image of his campaign to appeal to the moderate 25% of Republicans who are looking for a viable mainstream GOP alternative to Trump, as well as the independent voters he will eventually need in order to beat Biden in the general election.

However, the obvious difficulties confronting the DeSantis campaign has sparked increased interest by some Republican voters and political analysts in some of the newer candidates challenging Trump for the GOP nomination.

WHO IS VIVEK RAMASWAMY?

One of them is the recently unknown 37-year-old newcomer to national politics, biotech entrepreneur and self-made multi-millionaire Vivek Ramaswamy, who has recently risen to third place, behind only Trump and DeSantis, in four of the most recent national polls.

One of the secrets of his success is his campaign’s powerful but simplified message that strongly resonates with many voters: “Excellence over Victimhood. Democracy over Aristocracy. America over China. Diversity of Thought over Appearance. Truth over Relativism. Equal Opportunity over Equal Results.”

The second is his life story as the son of Indian immigrant parents, who graduated from Harvard with a degree in biology before going on to Yale to get his law degree.

Third, Ramaswamy has been welcomed by mainstream media outlets with mostly open arms, primarily due to his American Dream-type biography and the novelty of his campaign message. The media exposure has started to pay off as, slowly but surely, more voters get to know him and respond positively to his vision for the nation.

IS SENATOR TIM SCOTT READY FOR POLITICAL PRIME TIME?

Another relatively new face in the national spotlight is the black GOP senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott. According to New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, Scott “has an obvious asset that DeSantis is missing, a fundamental good cheer that Americans favor in their presidents. Say this as well: He has the profile of a potent general-election candidate, an African American and youthful-seeming generic Republican to set against Joe Biden’s [old age]. Say this, finally: Scott sits in the sweet spot for the Republican donor class, as a George W. Bush-style conservative untouched by. . . Trump-era populism.”

Scott is clearly one of the GOP’s rising national leaders of the future, but his main problem now, according to Jonathan Last, the former editor of the Weekly Standard, is that Scott is not offering Republican voters a serious alternative to Trump’s policies. Rather, he seems to be “positioning himself as an attractive running mate for Trump.”

To have a serious shot at winning the 2024 nomination, Scott needs to come with a pitch strong enough to convince most GOP voters that he, rather than DeSantis, would be the most effective replacement for Trump at the top of the ticket.

TRUMP CALLS ON HIS GOP OPPONENTS TO GIVE UP

Meanwhile, in an address to his working-class supporters in Erie, Pennsylvania last weekend, Trump urged his GOP rivals for the nomination to drop out of the race because, “Every dollar spent attacking me by Republicans is a dollar given straight to the Biden campaign.”

He said that it was time for DeSantis and the other GOP candidates he dismissed as “clowns” to stop “wasting hundreds of millions of dollars that Republicans should be using to build a massive vote-gathering operation” that will be needed to beat Biden next November.

Using a clever argument to boost the support from his audience in Erie, Trump declared, “They’re not indicting me, they’re indicting you. I just happen to be standing in the way. Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxists, communists and fascists indict me, I consider it actually a great badge of honor…. Because I’m being indicted for you.”

Trump said that his latest indictment on new felony charges related to the government documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida was intended to serve as a distraction, to divert the public’s attention away from a judge’s rejection last week of the sweetheart plea deal for Hunter Biden proposed by his defense team and federal prosecutors. Trump added that “These are ridiculous indictments and all they want to do is damage the leading [presidential] candidate.”

TRUMP PROMISES AGAIN TO RESTORE AMERICA’S GREATNESS

Trump also painted a bleak picture of America’s decline under Biden’s presidency. He said that “Democrat-run cities” like Philadelphia and Atlanta are overrun with crime and the economy is a “cesspool of ruin.”

“We are not going to allow this horror to continue,” he declared. “Three years ago, we were a great nation and we will soon be a great nation again.”

Trump said that he would stop the influx of illegal immigrants entering the United States by reinstating the effective border policies he instituted that have been scrapped under Biden’s presidency.

He also said he would deny federal funding to any school that enacted a vaccine or a mask mandate and that he would ban them from teaching critical race theory to their students. He also listed “purging the [administrative] deep state” and preventing the outbreak of “World War III” among his priorities when he returns to the White House after winning a second term as president.

Trump also had a warning for Republican members of Congress who have been reluctant to support the call last week by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to consider opening an impeachment inquiry into President Biden over newly revealed allegations from a credible FBI informant. According to a newly released FBI document, then vice-president Biden and his son Hunter each allegedly received $5 million in bribes in 2015 and 2016 from officials of Burisma, a corrupt Ukrainian energy company. In return, the vice president pressured the Ukrainian government to oust the Ukrainian state prosecutor who had been investigating the company.

Republican congressional investigators have also found evidence indicating that other members of the Biden family received hidden payments from Hunter Biden’s influence-peddling schemes trading on the position of his father during the years when he was Barack Obama’s vice president.

In light of that evidence, Trump said that “Any Republican [congressman] that doesn’t act on Democrat fraud should be immediately primaried and get out — out!” he told the estimated crowd of 4,500 people in Erie, to their loud applause. “They have to play tough and … if they’re not willing to do it, we got a lot of good, tough Republicans around … and they’re going to get my endorsement every single time.”

Trump also called upon Republican members of Congress to halt the authorization of any additional U.S. military support to Ukraine, until the Biden administration agrees to cooperate with ongoing Republican-led investigations into President Biden and his family’s influence peddling deals.

“[Biden is] dragging [the U.S.] into a global conflict on behalf of the very same country, Ukraine, that apparently paid his family all of these millions of dollars,” Trump alleged. “In light of this information,” Congress, he said, “should refuse to authorize a single additional [transfer from] our depleted weapons stockpiles to Ukraine until the FBI, DOJ and IRS hand over every scrap of evidence they have on the Biden crime family’s corrupt business dealings.”

EXPOSING THE BIDEN “CRIME FAMILY”

He also called the Bidens “the most corrupt crime family in American history.”

The flow of new evidence and witness testimony revealed by Congressional Republicans has already forced the White House spokesman to implicitly admit that President Biden was lying to the American public when he repeatedly claimed that he had no knowledge of his son’s corrupt foreign business dealings.

The official White House narrative has now been modified to state that the president never did business with his son, while the mainstream news media outlets have cooperated by failing to alert the public to the significance of the change.

That is consistent with the latest congressional testimony by former Hunter Biden business partner Devon Archer this week. He said that while Joe Biden was vice president, he witnessed about 20 phone calls in which the elder Biden participated with his son, Hunter, during business meetings with his son’s business clients. Archer added that during these conversations, the vice president never discussed any of the business details, and only engaged in casual conversation about such things as the weather. But Joe Biden’s participation in the phone calls did help his son to sell what Archer called “the brand” of their influence peddling scheme to their wealthy foreign clients.

According to GOP Congressman James Comer, who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Archer’s testimony “confirms Joe Biden lied to the American people when he said he had no knowledge about his son’s business dealings and was not involved.”

BIDEN’S GROWING VULNERABILITY

Commentator Hanson writes that he would not be surprised by the appearance of more evidence and witness testimony by this year’s end “showing that Joe himself discussed pay-for-play schemes with foreign entities.” Such evidence would indicate that Biden was guilty of the crime of bribery which is one of the two offenses (the other being treason) specifically mentioned by the Constitution as cause for removal of a president from office.

Hanson notes the irony in the fact that Donald Trump was subjected by Democrats to his first impeachment trial for merely asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in a phone call to investigate the initial allegations that the Bidens were involved in a Ukrainian corruption scheme.

Having already “lowered the bar for impeachment and special prosecutions” so far in their efforts to punish Trump, Hanson notes that it would be hypocritical by the Left to criticize congressional Republicans for attempting to impeach Biden and remove other high administration officials on the basis of the much stronger evidence of bribery and deliberate obstruction of justice that is now steadily being revealed.

Some of this evidence is not new. In a recorded speech to a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations several years later, Joe Biden actually boasted that he had threatened to cancel a billion dollars in U.S. foreign aid assistance unless the Ukrainian government fired Viktor Shokin, a state prosecutor who was looking into his son’s influence peddling at the time. In response to Biden’s threat, Shokin was fired before Biden left Ukraine to fly home.

AN ANTI-HARRIS BIDEN EXIT STRATEGY

But Hanson does not expect Biden to be removed from office by impeachment, even though that may be justified, nor by invoking the 25th Amendment due to Biden’s advancing incompetence. Instead, he predicts that at some point Joe Biden will drop out of the 2024 election race, but remain in office through the end of his term to prevent Harris from becoming the interim president.

All this assumes, that Biden will be capable of finishing the final 18 months of his current term of office without suffering an incapacitating breakdown. That is not a given. It may require a further shortening by the protective White House staff of Biden’s already truncated work schedule to just 2-3 hours a day. We can also expect even fewer public appearances by the aging president, because, according to Hanson, he can no longer be trusted to read remarks off a teleprompter without slurring his words, losing his place, or going off extemporaneously to speak on a totally different topic.

Hanson also wonders that if the claims of foreign bribery of then-Vice President Biden are true, what impact that may have had on U.S. foreign policy. He asks whether fear of exposure of the alleged Biden influence peddling schemes could be the real reason why “China was never held accountable by Biden after new information detailed the role of the Wuhan lab in birthing the Covid virus, or for sending a spy balloon across the continental U.S. with impunity.”

In closing, Hanson notes, “How odd [it is] that the Left knows that both the current President and Vice President should not be in either job after 2024; and yet its own prior pandering and rank politicking have made both almost impossible to remove. And how odder that the extra-legal measures the Left took to [bring down] the Trump presidency are now the low standards by which an utterly corrupt Biden can be investigated, indicted, impeached, or forced to resign.

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