Hey, their Akin strategy worked in New Hampshire, didn’t it? And in Arizona, Nevada, and Pennsylvania too, for that matter. Democrats spent a reported $53 million boosting what Joe Biden calls “ultra-MAGA” candidates into nominations for key Senate and House races in order to protect vulnerable incumbents or open seats.
And since that strategy largely worked, we can expect Democrats to try it again in 2024. And who better to promote than the ultra-MAGAiest MAGA of all? Especially since it is beginning to dawn on Democrats than almost any other Republican with active respiration will beat Biden like a bongo drum.
Top Democrats see Republicans’ unenthusiastic greeting of Donald Trump’s third White House bid with a combination of schadenfreude and perhaps some other German word for terrifying, unintended consequences: They love seeing the former president struggle, but privately some tell CNN they worry this could lead to a more difficult 2024 campaign against a younger, fresher Republican. …
When asked, though, how they’d feel about Biden’s chances against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis or other Republicans who could make a generational argument without the baggage Trump brings, many Democrats’ voices tend to tighten. “Not great,” said one top operative. “Uneasy,” said two others, in separate conversations. …
A few weeks ago, when many expected significant House losses for the party, Phillips was one of multiple Democrats predicting that the election aftermath would include more and louder calls for Biden to step aside. Phillips acknowledged last week that those calls haven’t come but attributed that more to the “culture of deference” in Congress than to renewed support for Biden.
“It’s a little bit like when Trump was president, and none of the Republicans would say what they really thought on the record,” said one Democratic strategist.
Democratic Rep. Ann McLane Kuster also expressed doubts about Biden running for reelection as she campaigned in New Hampshire. Back in Washington after winning a sixth term by a wider-than-anticipated margin, she said she’s still not convinced.
One has to wonder whether the Biden White House wants to make sure Trump gets the nomination, too. Why appoint a special counsel to raise the profile of the investigations of Trump at this stage, for instance? Merrick Garland has a very weak case for doing that now, as opposed to from the very start of the Biden administration when everyone understood that Trump wanted to run again. Appointing someone connected to the Lois Lerner-IRS targeting scandal as an independent prosecutor looks especially provocative … almost as though the administration wants Trump to look like a victim to his base and to Republicans generally.
Gee, why would they want that?
That won’t be enough, of course. Democrats will need not just to promote Trump in order to protect Biden, but also start attacking the potential options Republican voters may consider in 2024. Chief among those would be Ron DeSantis, who just got done humiliating them in Florida and who threatens to do so nationwide if the newly re-elected governor decides to run in 2024’s primaries. We can expect a TV campaign to begin in early 2023 that will paint DeSantis as insufficiently MAGA under the guise of super-PACs pretending to be Trumpian in nature. That was the game plan they ran in states like New Hampshire especially, but also in Arizona and Nevada too.
If the GOP nominates anyone other than Trump to run against Biden, they’ll win, and probably easily at this point. If DeSantis gets the nomination, he’ll be nearly half Biden’s age with a long track record of executive success, a huge contrast to Biden’s bumbling and doddering failure — but nearly the same contrast would exist with Glenn Youngkin, Greg Abbott, Doug Ducey, or any of the other GOP governors who might rise to the top in 2024. The only possible winning play is to make sure Trump gets renominated, and we can expect Democrats to pull out all the stops to make that happen.