Everybody’s talking about the dozens of Democrats who want to run in 2020. But we like to look at both sides, so we have already had two stories about possible Republican challengers to Donald Trump. One was Mitt Romney, who is in the unique place of having a position of power in the Senate—but coming from a State that does not like Trump, so Romney’s safe to stand up to him. Then we had a story about John Kasich, “the last man standing” in 2016. Kasich also has nothing to lose, but does not have a power base, from which he can pull headlines (free PR). Those are not the only Republicans who might challenge Trump, but first, let’s consider if he is vulnerable.
Americans are famous for not knowing history, so they look back at Presidents Obama, Bush43, and Clinton, and assume presidents always get re-elected. But that’s not the case. It’s not automatic. GHW Bush was riding high just a year before the 1992 election, the hero who saved Kuwait, yet he lost. Before him, Jimmy Carter was defeated; immediately before him, Gerald Ford. Nixon was re-elected, but only served part of his term. LBJ chose not to run, but would likely have been defeated. JFK was cut down before he could campaign for a second term. And Harry Truman, after the amazing win in 1948, didn’t run for a second full term.
Of the 12 presidents in the last 70 years, only five of them served a full second term. And several were challenged from within their own party. Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy challenged LBJ. Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford in 1976. Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter in 1980. Pat Buchanan challenged GHW Bush. Each of them then lost. The Boston Globe asks if a weak president invites a challenge, or if the challenge weakens the president, causing the reelection defeat.
Although there are dozens of Democrats jockeying to challenge Trump, it’s amazing how many Republicans are also considering a challenge. Conservative Review (CR) has what they call a “definitive list,” which includes Mark Cuban, star of “Shark Tank,” who tangled with Trump in the media in 2016. And, according to a poll, if he ran, he’d beat Trump in deep-red Texas.
Meanwhile, Fox says to watch Sen. Bob Corker.
Then, there’s Jeff Flake, who has said “somebody” needs to challenge Trump, according to The Hill. The Hill also reported that Flake said he didn’t vote for Trump the first time, and CNN says of all the challengers, Flake could be Trump’s worse nightmare.
Considering Trump’s low standing with Hispanic voters, the party may turn to Susana Martinez, governor of New Mexico, as was mentioned in The Hill.
Then there’s Nebraska’s Sen. Ben Sasse, who has been to Iowa several times, has launched a tax-exempt political group, America 101, according to Politico plus a leadership PAC–Sensible American Solutions Supporting Everyone (“SASSE,” get it?)
Of course, when she announced her leaving her UN post, Nikki Haley claimed that she was not interested in running in 2020, but the Washington Examiner notes that she and Trump have disagreed on a number of issues, and in one case, she did a major slapdown of Larry Kudlow, who had suggested Haley was “confused,” as noted in the Washington Times. And, of course, denying interest in an office is the first step to running for it. . .
Also from the Washington Times a story that former vice presidential candidate and retiring Sen. Paul Ryan would make “perfect sense” as an establishment candidate to primary Trump if Republicans lose the House in 2018. [Note that Democrats took the house in historic fashion in 2018.]
Even author Brad Thor has said, “If no conservative steps up, I will absolutely challenge Donald Trump in 2020. America deserves better leadership.” and, “In fact, let’s make it official. I’m in.” Thor later deleted the “I’m in” tweet from his account.
Newsweek adds Carly Fiorina, whom Trump called “horseface” in 2016. In October, according to The Hill, Fiorina condemned Trump for using the same term against Stormy Daniels. Also in the article, Newsweek suggests that, given the right circumstances, Ted Cruz and even Mike Pence might jump into the race.
ABC adds Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton to the list, although Trump has been courting him lately.
The Huffington Post goes as far as predicting that Trump will NOT be the 2020 nominee.
And, finally, CNBC reports that Bill Kristol, of the Weekly Standard, is looking for an anti-Trump candidate again, beginning with a non-profit, Defending Democracy Together. His favorites, so far, are Kasich, Flake, and Sasse.
So despite all the talk of the horde of Democrats running in 2020, we have more than a dozen Republicans who might be expected to run against Trump. Let the games begin.