Looks like we’re already talking about a Trump White House again. Rumor has it that the former President has allegedly told his inner circle he’s considering officially announcing a second run for the commander-in-chief spot soon, possibly as early as this month. Well, that was a short break. Did you enjoy it?
As the rumor goes, Trump’s advisers initially wanted the announcement of his latest presidential bid to happen sometime around the November midterms, presumably as a means of greasing the skids for a GOP-favored win, but apparently, that idea has been scrapped. As it turns out, a summer White House announcement gives Trump a chance to pivot from the damaging revelations unearthed during the House Select Committee’s series of public hearings on the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. It also temporarily draws attention away from up-and-comers such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s easily Trump’s biggest threat in a primary. And, of course, it takes advantage of a slumping Biden presidency that’s leaking public support by the day.
At the expense of stating the obvious, Trump’s entry into a second term in the Oval Office won’t be smooth sailing. Nearly half of Americans (48 percent) want the former President criminally charged for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. While it remains to be seen if there’s enough evidence to indict Trump for seditious conspiracy in his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Associated Press-NORC poll showed a majority (58 percent) of Americans blame him for the uprising. Additional polling also shows the die-hard Trump base appears to be shrinking, with a growing number of Republicans distancing themselves from the former President, suggesting many conservative voters are ready to leave him behind and effectively give other party candidates their first shot at being contenders since 2015. The easy reading is that Trump is damaged goods.
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While the Jan. 6 hearings have made Trump’s path to the presidency difficult, it would be ridiculous to assume the House panel’s revelations have given the Democratic Party an automatic in for 2024. The Dems are hoping that voter rage—particularly among moderate women, a key demo—in response to a series of decisions passed by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority will galvanize voter turnout in the 2022 midterms, where the Democrats are expected to face tough headwinds. Let’s face it: It’s a pipe dream to think these issues will be enough to tilt the scales in the Dems' favor. Americans are hurting financially, and you can bet economic issues such as inflation and gas prices, fairly or not, will always supersede whatever manifold criticisms we have of Trump. Until the Dems actually give Americans compelling candidates to rally around, the “vote harder” mantra ain’t going to cut it.
Complicating this problem is the fact that no one’s jazzed about a Biden second term, including members of his own party. Seven in 10 Americans don’t think Biden should run for reelection, compared to six in 10 who don’t think Trump should run. You could make the case that both are unfit for office: Trump due to legal and ethical concerns, Biden due to his age and sheer incompetency. Biden is plagued by a host of external economic challenges, but his base is also frustrated by his inaction on the issues he campaigned on—such as the environment—or for failing to codify Roe in Congress or his head-scratching decision to nominate an anti-abortion lawyer to a federal judgeship. Trump could be betting his shortcomings aren’t as bad as Biden’s. It just might work.
A safer bet would be for conservatives to get behind a formidable alternative with less baggage. Trump has the name and brand recognition, but his grip on the Republican party is slipping and the Jan. 6 hearings might be the death knell to his previously bulletproof tactic of reinterpreting reality whenever it suits his needs. A recent poll shows Governor DeSantis now leading Trump among New Hampshire Republican primary voters. (The same poll shows Biden beating Trump in a hypothetical 2024 New Hampshire general election, but also shows DeSantis beating Biden.) The 2024 election remains the GOP’s to lose. So, now they’ve got a choice to make: move on with an emerging-force candidate who courts the same angry, anti-establishment conservatives as Trump without a habit to shoot inside the tent, or take yet another gamble with a toxic nominee who could be facing criminal charges within the next year. It’s time for the GOP to move on.