For a while — well, if you squinted hard — it looked like there could be a competitive Republican presidential primary.
Ron DeSantis had raised more than $100 million and earlier this year was just single-digits behind Donald Trump in the national polling averages. Nikki Haley and Tim Scott seemed like solid alternatives to the crazy Trump years. Chris Christie was committed to a negative campaign taking out Trump.
But then Trump got indicted four times and was charged with 91 felonies.
Remarkably, he’s now got one of the biggest leads in the history of modern contested presidential primaries.
Trump skipped the first Republican presidential debate. He’s skipping the second next week as well. And today we learn he’s skipping the third debate too.
That’s a clear indication that Trump is entirely focused on the general election.
Most Democrats assumed that Trump would need to spend until early next year shoring up his MAGA base and fending off attacks from his primary challengers.
That no longer seems necessary — which means the general election, for all intents and purposes, is now underway.
The Lincoln Project is out with a new ad that portrays President Biden’s age and experience as an asset.
Aaron Blake: “Either former president Donald Trump’s standing in early 2024 polls is inflated, or we are headed for a sizable realignment in how non-White voters cast their ballots.”
“Multiple polls in recent weeks have shown Trump performing historically well among Black and Hispanic voters in head-to-head matchups with President Biden, helping put him neck-and-neck with Biden in a way he rarely was during their 2020 matchup.”
“Across five high-quality polls that have broken out non-White voters in the past month, Trump is averaging 20 percent of Black voters and 42 percent of Hispanic voters.”
New Republic: “The shock of [Trump’s] election kept this initially from being a broad focus in popular culture, but in special election after special election in the coming year, culminating in the 2018 midterms, it was clear there was a lasting revulsion from these Republicans toward the Trump-era GOP. This was reinforced in 2020, when these voters appear to have turned even more heavily against Trump, helping Joe Biden run the table in the most competitive swing states.”
“This tranche of voters is not huge, but they may be decisive—in 2020, 16 percent of self-identified moderate or liberal Republicans voted for Biden, according to an analysis by Pew, twice the share that did so in 2016. This even as Biden won a narrow electoral college victory by a combined margin of just under 43,000 votes in Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin.”
TRUMP 2024. “Donald Trump plans to ramp up his campaign in Iowa over the next several weeks as he looks to solidify his lead over GOP 2024 field in the state that will hold the first presidential nominating contest,” CNN reports.
Donald Trump bragged over the summer about not inviting Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) to his campaign events, but he’s still passing out photos of two together in an effort to make voters think he has a close relationship with her.
“Strategic, surgical efforts by former President Trump’s campaign to overhaul obscure Republican Party rules in states around the nation, including California, have created an opportunity for the GOP front-runner to quickly sew up his party’s presidential nomination,” the Los Angeles Times reports.
“The former president’s aides have sculpted rules in dozens of states, starting even before his 2020 reelection bid. Their work is ongoing: In addition to California, state Republican parties in Nevada and Michigan have recently overhauled their rules in ways clearly designed to favor Trump.”
“Massachusetts Republicans just handed Donald Trump another win in his quest to tilt state delegate-selection rules in his favor,” Politico reports. “Republican state committee members in this Super Tuesday state voted unanimously on Thursday night to pass a primary delegate plan that keeps a winner-take-all threshold likely to benefit Trump.”
Washington Post: “He held fewer events than most all of his GOP foes, according to a Washington Post analysis of campaign stops from May until September. And he is still ahead by a long shot in national and state polls, dominating a field that has struggled to gain oxygen even as they appear in more places more frequently than Trump does.”
BIDEN 2024. “The ordained big-money outside group supporting President Biden’s reelection has hired two veterans of his 2020 campaign to lead a new Latino advertising effort, as it blankets early states with television spots that echo the Biden campaign’s own fall television strategy,” the Washington Post reports.
“President Joe Biden said Donald Trump looks destined to be the Republican party’s 2024 nominee at a campaign fundraiser in New York, framing a potential rematch as a battle for the future of democracy,” Bloomberg reports.
Said Biden: “He may be the nominee again. It looks like he is destined to be the nominee again.”
“President Joe Biden on Monday told a packed Broadway theater full of big-name stars hosting a fundraiser in his honor that he was running for reelection because Donald Trump was determined to destroy the nation,” the AP reports.
“It was the among the president’s strongest rebukes of the Republican front-runner and former president, who is facing criminal charges for his role in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.”
Washington Post: “Nearly five months in, the Biden campaign remains, by design, a mostly behind-the-scenes operation, save the steady stream of television ads popping up in swing states and on cable news. There have been no solo campaign rallies, and just a few public political events with supportive labor or activist groups. The swing state offices won’t open for weeks or months, along with a major push for volunteers. When Vice President Harris makes stops on a college tour this month to excite young people about voting, she is doing it in her official capacity.”
“But away from the television cameras, in private events, at suburban Washington homes or a Broadway theater, Biden and his team have begun to lay out his argument for reelection and to confront the age questions that have dogged the early months of his campaign.”
“About 800 Maine voters have rescinded their enrollment in an aspiring national political party after signing what they mistakenly believed was a standard citizen petition,” the Portland Press Herald reports.
“But despite the exodus, No Labels still appears to have enough signatures to qualify for the Maine ballot in next year’s presidential election.”
DESANTIS 2024. Politico: “Interviews with nearly two dozen lobbyists, political consultants and lawmakers revealed that DeSantis’ struggles as a presidential candidate have already eroded his influence in Florida. There is a widespread expectation that his candidacy will end in failure. His standing at home may depend on how long he slogs forward in the presidential campaign — and how he will manage his exit from the race if he eventually drops out.”
“Now, it may be just a matter of time before Florida Republicans, once unflinchingly loyal, seek distance from DeSantis and his hardball governing methods.”
Tara Palmeri: “Some have suggested that DeSantis simply hasn’t spent enough time in the Granite State. After all, he’s going all-in on Iowa—ostensibly following the playbook of ur-consultant Jeff Roe, who runs his nearly $100 million super PAC ‘Never Back Down,’ and executed the same hit-every-county strategy for Ted Cruz in 2016. The Roe doctrine is actually quite simple: crisscross the first-to-vote caucus state with a far-right, evangelical message, while the super PAC manages a sophisticated ground operation that is advantageous to a caucus. The hope is that a win in Iowa will create just enough momentum for success in New Hampshire.”
“Of course, The Roe Doctrine was disproved when Cruz could only leverage his Iowa victory into a third-place finish in New Hampshire. He lost to Trump by 24 points on the night that the former reality TV star effectively separated himself from the field. Cruz, like DeSantis is now, polled at 11 percent, basically tying with Jeb Bush for third/fourth place. There’s a risk that Roe could be vulnerable to the same outcome with his new charge. Genuflecting ever rightward for Iowans—calling for a war at the border, releasing outlandish anti-gay videos, calling Gorsuch and Kavanaugh too liberal—can catch up with a candidate in New England.”
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) “is signaling she is likely to endorse Ron DeSantis for president, a move that would give him the support of a popular conservative leader as he looks to close the gap against frontrunner Donald Trump,” Bloomberg reports.
“Reynolds’s backing could come as early as November… The Iowa caucus, the first in the GOP primary calendar, is scheduled for January.”
KENNEDY 2024. Rock and roll legend Eric Clapton raised $2.2 million for Democrat presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., at a recent campaign event, Fox News reports.
“I’m a pariah. Nobody in the Democratic Party talks to me.”— Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in Harper’s Magazine.
New York Times: “If Mr. Kennedy does decide to leave the party of his famous father and uncles to run in the general election, one potential landing spot may be the Libertarian Party, which at the moment lacks a widely known candidate but has excelled at securing ballot access.”
“In July, Mr. Kennedy met privately with Angela McArdle, the chair of the Libertarian Party, at a conference they were both attending in Memphis — a meeting that has not previously been reported.”
HALEY 2024. Nikki Haley laced into Donald Trump in a speech laying out her economic plan on Friday, faulting the former president for “reckless spending,” Politico reports.
CHRISTIE 2024. “Gov. Chris Christie has become a regular sight all over New Hampshire. He’s spent some time in South Carolina, too, since announcing his 2024 bid for president. But there is one notable state that he has completely skipped so far: Iowa,” NBC News reports.
Said Christie: “I haven’t gone because I haven’t wanted to. And if I want to, I’ll go sometime later.”
BURGUM 2024. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) appears to have qualified for the second GOP debate, which is on Wednesday in California, Politico reports.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed Democrats could “parachute” Michelle Obama in as a presidential nominee if his theory of President Biden dropping out of the race holds true, The Hill reports.
Said Cruz: “So here’s the scenario that I think is perhaps the most likely and most dangerous. In August of 2024, the Democrat kingmakers jettison Joe Biden and parachute in Michelle Obama. I view this as a very serious danger.”
The third Republican presidential debate will be held in Miami on Nov. 8, a day after several states hold off-year elections, and candidates will be facing the most stringent requirements yet to take part,” the AP reports.
“Participating candidates must secure 4% of the vote in multiple polls and 70,000 unique donors to earn a spot on the stage.”