Despite the President having already announced his intention to run for re-election, some commentators and analysts seem bent in explaining why, in their opinion, they believe Trump will decide not to run again in 2020. There is a compelling case to be made, surely, that the Office of President is weighing on the Trump family and the Trump brand, so maybe it would be best to take his one-term status and retire back to his real estate empire. Then again, this is Donald Trump, and nearly 100% of every commentator thought his first run wasn’t serious.
Nonetheless, here is an opinion piece from former Republican Congressman, and current MSNBC morning host, Joe Scarborough, explaining why he thinks Trump will bow out of the race and let someone else take the 2020 GOP nomination:
But while the president and his team of misfit lawyers have reason to tread carefully under stormy legal skies, Republicans on Capitol Hill can relax. It’s becoming clear that Trump will not be running for president in 2020.
This past week, White House office pools reportedly set up in anticipation of the next staff firing are shifting their focus to predicting which Trump family member will be the first to land behind bars. Special Counsel Robert Mueller III’s independent investigation into Russia may have inspired a defiant West Wing response, but the U.S. attorney’s raid of Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room has stirred more fear and loathing inside White House offices than at any time since President Richard Nixon battled Watergate prosecutors in the summer of 1973.
Now, even Trump’s most steadfast allies are quietly admitting that the Southern District of New York’s investigation poses an existential threat to his future, both politically and legally. Trump allies are telling the president his “fixer” could flip for the feds, just like Michael Flynn, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. In Washington and across the country, Republicans are sensing the president is a wounded political figure, leading them to withhold their future support or — in one high-profile case — to challenge the president directly.
Over the weekend on the Sunday shows and in recent days on cable news, there has been a concerted effort to ask Republican officeholders if they intend to support Donald Trump in 2020. Their answers are typically dodgy or underwhelming, very few if any want to fully commit. This is a stark change from just a few months ago when Republicans seemed to be embracing Trump after passing tax reform and taking a victory lap.
Now, however, with news that Trump’s personal lawyer is in legal cross hairs, some of the same Republicans are getting weak-knees over staying on the Trump train. In that line of reasoning, Scarborough thinks Trump will basically be “forced out” of the nomination in 2020 because he’ll lack support within the party.
In a direct response to the Scarborough piece, Doug Mataconis, of Outside the Beltway, argues that despite all these valid reasons, it still remains very unlikely that Trump would abandon the 2020 nomination unless he was actually forced to do so:
Scarborough goes on to recite a number of other examples of news that has unfolded over the past two weeks or so with regard to the Administration and the manner in which the President has acted in response to developments in the news. This includes that rumors regarding an imminent major staff change at the White House or in elsewhere in the Administration, the dispute that unfolded last week when United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said in an appearance on Face The Nation that new sanctions would be announced early last week only to be undercut by the White House, and the search warrants executed against longtime Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen which clearly have people close to Trump and the President himself agitated far more than the Russia investigation.
All of this is true, of course, but it’s a far cry from here to the conclusion that Trump might not run for re-election. Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible.
As for 2020, I suppose that it’s possible that something will break in the Russia investigation, or in the new investigations regarding Michael Cohen, that could lead to peril for Trump serious enough to put his political future in doubt. It’s also possible that Trump, who would be 74 years old on Election Day 2020, may just decide it’s not worth it to run for re-election, especially if there’s a chance he might not win or that he’d be facing a second term with Democrats in control of Congress.
The question is how likely is it that this will happen? And the only answer anyone can come up with at this point is that nobody knows.
For whatever it’s worth, Trump himself is certainly moving forward like someone who intends on running for re-election in two years. He set up a re-election campaign only a year after entering office, an unusual move for a first-term President but one that allows him to conduct the campaign-style rallies that he clearly loves to do. He’s hired a campaign manager who has taken the lead in being one of the leading cheerleaders for the President outside the White House, and he’s acting for all the world like someone who plans on running for re-election.
I tend to agree with Mataconis on this one. Looking at Trump though the “conventional wisdom lens,” he’s a damaged politician. However, Looking at Trump through the “Trump lens” shows the outsider still feverishly fighting the swamp and the establishment who so desperately want to keep their monopoly on Washington. Mataconis also correctly concludes that Trump, as the incumbent, has a natural advantage that would give him a slight edge in 2020 despite approval ratings or scandals. As President, he already looks the part and will not be bogged down in a bloody primary for a year as the Democratic candidates will be.
CNN is asking the question of why everyone keeps asking if Trump is actually going to run for re-election. The continued questioning of that move, they believe, is patently silly. Of course he’s going to run. In Trump’s world, the more attention and more scandal, the better.
More than half of Americans do not think he will be re-elected, by the way, but it’s such a premature question as to not be meaningful. And it puts him in good company: A lot of ultimately re-elected presidents caused similar skepticism among voters.
On the one hand, leaving office might make a little bit of sense for him. He’d have a perfect electoral record and he could say he was done with the work of changing Washington. You don’t have to psychoanalyze Trump to say that he does not like failure and he does not like losing. It’s far from clear what kind of candidate Democrats will pick, but no matter who it is, the possibility of defeat is very real for the President.
But it’s equally hard to see someone like Trump simply stepping down without some kind of excuse. He seems to like being in charge too much, and giving up would be totally out of character, as has been written by CNN’s Chris Cillizza in the past.
From Trump’s repeated references to serving two terms and the official steps he’s taken to move in that direction, it’s hard to believe otherwise.
If Trump is not forced to step down, for some unknown reason, he’s running for re-election. In fact, if Republican leadership turns on him, it makes it more likely that he’ll run. He loves running against the wind and fighting with politicians. If we’ve learned anything since Trump won the Presidency in 2016, it’s that if someone tells Trump he can’t or shouldn’t do something, it makes him far more likely to do it, just to buck the trend.