Joe Biden's 2024 plans 'must not bank' on Donald Trump: columnist
President Joe Biden has not been shy about his intentions to seek reelection in 2024. Former President Donald Trump has also not refrained from teasing the public about his desire to return to the White House. Recent reporting indicates that Trump could announce his bid as early as the fall, potentially throwing a wrench into the gears of the Republican Party's ambitions to retake control of Congress in the November midterms.
But the volatile American political climate – no doubt enhanced by the enumerated civil and criminal investigations into Trump – carries within it underlying uncertainty.
Conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin expanded on that in Tuesday's Washington Post, opining that Biden's ultimate decision should not depend on Trump.
"As a preliminary matter, predicating a reelection campaign on Trump’s decision-making is pure folly. Trump might delay endlessly. He might announce he’s running but eventually drop out. He might run and then be indicted. He might run and then lose the nomination. Waiting to consider the chances of a Trump nomination would effectively freeze out other potential Democratic candidates who would need to organize, raise money and campaign. That is untenable," she wrote.
The twilight of Trump's presidency was tainted by corruption scandals, a mismanaged pandemic, a tanked economy, and at the tail end, an attempt to overthrow the government and subvert an election, for which he was impeached for a second time.
Today, Rubin noted, the nation is still grappling with the fallout from four years of Trump.
"More than 60 percent of Americans do not want Trump to run," she pointed out, alluding to public opinion surveys on the matter. The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Rubin continued, "has laid bare his despicable betrayal of American democracy and his dereliction of duty. Frankly, any minimally competent Democrat should be able to beat Trump if he or she focuses the election on one question: 'Do we really want to relive the Trump years?'"
Biden, too, has fallen victim to unfriendly polling. But Rubin stressed that setting aside the "choice between a decent, honorable president and an unfit, unhinged challenger who is a menace to America, the race would inevitably turn at least in part on Biden’s performance."
Rubin believes that is where Biden's winning message truly lies, albeit not in a vacuum.
"Biden’s actual performance (e.g., passing a bipartisan infrastructure package, rallying NATO against Russia, appointing an impressive and diverse group of federal court judges, pulling off a massive vaccination campaign, overseeing an economy that clawed back all the jobs lost in the pandemic) is arguably far better than his putrid poll numbers suggest," she said. "But the latter cannot be ignored when Biden is the one on the ballot (as opposed to Democrats in general in 2022, who seem to be decoupling from Biden’s unpopularity due to backlash to the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision on abortion)."
Anything can happen in the 27 months before Election Day in 2024. There is a non-zero possibility that the presidential contest could evolve into a scenario that spurs Democrats "to nominate a new figure who can make the race all about preventing Trump’s return to power," wrote Rubin.
Additionally, Rubin maintained that "Democrats’ anxiety that if Biden does not run against Trump, Vice President Harris would — and would lose to Trump – is overblown and premature. There will be a primary if Biden decides not to run, not a coronation. Democratic candidates can make the case that they are more electable than Harris and provide the fresh start that the party is looking for. She will have to fight for the nomination."
That situation has two potential outcomes. According to Rubin, Harris "will have proved her political mettle and improved organizational skill. If not (either because of her personal standing or because of the party’s desire to move beyond the Biden years), the party will have endured a vigorous primary (as it did in 1992, 2008 and 2020) and will be prepared to vanquish Trump."
Biden's safest play, Rubin concluded, is to "probably assume Trump is running and then assess whether the country and the Democratic Party are best served by a 2024 that is a referendum largely on Biden or a broad-based defense against the return of a delusional authoritarian who cannot accept defeat."
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