A rematch between Biden and Trump is becoming increasingly likely. But neither side wants to move first.
“It’s a very unusual situation where there are people in both parties who would probably step down, and for the first time in modern history we may not have a very competitive primary on either side,” said Alex Conant, a Republican Strategist who was a senior adviser in Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential bid. “So it’s hard to imagine what that would look like other than it being a brutally long campaign.”
All systems are running in the White House for now for 2024. An official decision has not yet been made and may not be for some time, according to three government officials who are not authorized to discuss private deliberations. But Biden has repeatedly said he plans to seek re-election, and White House advisers and Biden advisers are taking initial steps to make an offer, believing he has a strong record and would overcome intra-party concerns about his age – on Election Day 2024 he will be just under 82 – and shaky poll numbers.
He has little choice; an admission that he was making a lame duck of himself would dramatically limit his political power. Some Democrats have expressed private hope that Biden will make his final decision shortly after the midterm elections in November this year, giving the party ample time to prepare for what will likely be a wide-open primary if he decides against running.
But presidents often wait until after the midterms to declare a re-election candidacy, in part because of the associated campaign funding constraints. Also, on a personal level, quick action is not a Biden forte, sparking fears within the party that an announcement could be delayed well into 2023. The only factor that could speed up a decision and almost certainly see Biden running again: if Donald Trump says he will too.
The current president has repeatedly held talks with allies that he would have to run again to prevent Trump from retaking the Oval Office. As in 2020, Biden views Trump as an existential threat to American democracy. And just like in 2020, Biden believes he’s the only one who can beat him. He plans to target Trump more aggressively as midterm season approaches – both to reverse his party’s image of the midterms and to provide contrast going forward.
“This MAGA crowd is truly the most extreme political organization that has existed in recent American history,” Biden said Wednesday.
But Trump is in no hurry to be the first to move. He has clearly indicated he will run again, but advisors expect a decision much closer to the midterms. Barely a year since he left office, Trump has been enjoying reclaiming his place at the top of the GOP and playing as kingmaker in the primary season – evidenced by JD Vance’s victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary of the year Ohio Senate was reinforced. But he hasn’t even privately committed to running himself. And he has admitted he is reluctant to announce so soon because once he did, he would be limited in how he could set up and coordinate with certain political committees linked to him.
Even his closest allies have to read the tea leaves. Trump’s enthusiasm for holding rallies, his flirtation with a 2024 run in media interviews, and the deep coffers of his super PACs, advisers say, are all signs he’s likely to run again. But he also remains more obsessed with renegotiating in 2020 than taking concrete steps to prepare for 2024. In that regard, they add, he would likely jump into the fray if reassured that Biden was also running.
“Biden Running is helping with his decision. I think it’s an opportunity to avenge a loss and right a wrong, while I don’t know how motivated he would be if there were a younger candidate,” said a former Trump aide.
The potential rematch would have only one historical parallel. In 1888, Benjamin Harrison overturned President Grover Cleveland’s re-election bid. But four years later, Cleveland defeated Harrison in their rematch to become the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms.
Trump pollster John McLaughlin said his firm’s polls show the 45th president is favored to follow in Cleveland’s dusty footsteps. One April nationwide Survey of likely voters by McLaughlin & Associates showed Trump with 50 percent support compared to Biden’s 43 percent. Other national polls have shown a closer race, but a poll this far away is practically pointless in predicting a race.
“If they keep attacking him, he’ll flee,” McLaughlin said. “If they keep trying to attack him and his supporters — Trump is the kind of person who, if you tell him there’s something he can’t do, and if you keep attacking him personally, he’ll try to prove you wrong.” .”
However, some Trump allies believe he may ultimately decide against a run, either for health reasons or, if Biden’s poll numbers rise again, because he doesn’t want to risk a second loss despite not yet acknowledging the first loss.
So far, a number of prominent Republicans have begun making overt moves to run for office in 2024. Whether they will give up their own White House dreams if the former president runs again is another matter entirely.
Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) are among those who have appeared in early-voting states, and some have begun making appearances to secure senior political advisers. Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley has indicated she would bid but not run against Trump if he decides to enter the race. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has suggested he could run even if Trump does. And there’s Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has emerged as the heir to Trump and the populist MAGA movement.
Things could be just as uncertain on the Democrat side. If Biden decides against re-election, the field may not clear for Vice President Kamala Harris, who has yet to find her political footing in the role. Two 2020 candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (DN.J.), have each recently held high-profile events on hot election issues.
If Biden opts for a second term, a serious primary challenge would be unlikely.
“Everything is frozen until after the midterms. I expect Biden to run, I hope he runs. And I think if there is a credible main challenger against Biden, there is almost a certainty of Trump victory,” said Paul Begala, former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton.
Historically, incumbent presidents have a losing track of success when someone in their own party presents a significant challenge: Gerald Ford in 1976, Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George HW Bush in 1992 all held back their main opponents but emerged wounded and would later lose the general election.
During the 2020 campaign, there was some chatter about Biden’s campaign to make a one-term promise to become an “interim” president who would rid the nation of Trump and then usher in a new era of Democratic leaders. But those ideas were scrapped even before Biden took the oath of office.
Still, some allies and Democrats privately worry that Biden may not be able to handle the rigors of another campaign.
A bone he broke in his foot while playing with his dog in late November 2020 still occasionally bothers Biden, resulting in a slower and shorter gait. And the White House has largely refrained from using the Oval Office for press events, in part because it cannot be permanently outfitted with a teleprompter; Biden aides favor the fake White House stage built in the Old Executive Office Building next door for events, sacrificing some of the historical setting’s power in favor of an otherwise sterile room that featured an easy-to-read teleprompter screen.
And if Biden were to run again in 2024, it would almost certainly be a more rigorous campaign than the one he has previously waged. The Covid outbreak kept Biden confined to his Delaware home for much of the 2020 campaign, sparing him the attrition of relentless travel.
As for Trump, the problems are less related to physical health and more related to mental conditioning. He wants to run, say those who know him, but he wants to make sure he wins.
“I always said that if Biden was under 44 or under 43, he would run [percent] but if Biden is at 46, 47, he’ll pass,” said Bryan Lanza, a GOP strategist and former Trump campaign official. “Right now he’s at 41, so now I have to say yes — there has to be a dramatic move in the Biden numbers for him to pass.”
https://www.politico.com/news/2022/05/05/biden-trump-rematch-00030250?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication A rematch between Biden and Trump is becoming increasingly likely. But neither side wants to move first.