Thursday, 28 September 2023
WorldTrump-Biden rematch looms on the horizon, whether voters like it or not

Trump-Biden rematch looms on the horizon, whether voters like it or not

NEW YORK (AP) — The conclusion of the long Labor Day weekend would normally mark the start of a frenetic race to the Iowa caucuses as candidates fight for their party’s presidential nomination. But as the 2024 campaign becomes clearer, the usual frenzy gives way to a sense of inevitability.

Among Republicans, Donald Trump dominates the primaries, beating rivals with resumes such as governors, diplomats and businessmen that would normally be convincing. The former president remains strong despite — or perhaps because of — multiple criminal accusations that threaten to overshadow any serious debate about the country’s future. And so far, the tens of millions of dollars that rivals are pouring into the campaign have done nothing to reduce Trump’s lead, fueling concerns among his Republican opponents who fear the primary is essentially over before it begins.

As a troubled front-runner tightens his grip on the Republican ticket, President Joe Biden is heading toward victory on the Democratic side. The 80-year-old president faces only token opposition for the Democratic nomination, despite concerns about his age and performance from many within his own party.

Whether voters like it or not, a new showdown between Trump and Biden could be on the horizon, raising the prospect of a deeply uncertain election season that only intensifies the nation’s political division. Trump is already skipping his party’s presidential debates, and his court appearances sometimes draw more attention than his campaign events. And Biden has only just begun campaigning as she deals with questions about his age and her son’s legal problems.

“I just can’t imagine things changing in any noticeable way. So it seems like the past is prologue,” said Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, in an interview, who praised Biden’s record of accomplishments but warned his party that does not underestimate the political strength of Trump.

Newsom said criticism of Biden for his age “is within the rules of the game and the White House knows it.”
“But if age equals results,” he continued, “I look forward to her 85th birthday.”

On the Republican side, fear is growing among some donors and party leaders who hoped conservative voters would leave Trump behind given the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol that he inspired and his serious legal problems.

“A new confrontation between Trump and Biden would be a disaster for the country. I’m very depressed about that,” said Bobbie Kilberg, a prominent Republican donor who supports Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey. She added that it’s “scary” that so many voters in her party still support the former president. “I refuse to believe that Trump is our inevitable candidate.”
There is time for the 2024 panorama to change.

There are four months left before the first votes are cast in Iowa caucuses and the general election is more than a year away. Furthermore, recent history has many examples of overlooked and seemingly overmatched candidates who proved conventional wisdom wrong. Both Trump and Biden are among them.
There are also significant variables.

Abortion still complicates elections — even in GOP strongholds like Kansas, Kentucky and Ohio — as voters reject Republican efforts to restrict access to the procedure. A bigger backlash is possible as courts review access to a commonly used abortion pill.

And Trump faces 91 felony charges in criminal proceedings taking place in Washington, New York, Miami and Atlanta. They cover everything from his handling of classified information to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election to arranging payments to keep a porn actress quiet.

The former president could be a convicted felon before the general election next November is decided. Still, party leaders — including most of his Republican primary opponents — have vowed to support him even if he is found guilty. And nothing in the Constitution prevents a criminal from assuming the presidency.

Leaders of both parties are willing to overlook the risks.

Quentin Wathum-Ocama, president of the Young Democrats of America, admits young voters aren’t thrilled about another Trump-Biden showdown, but hopes Trump’s polarizing candidacy will give Democrats the energy that Biden cannot.
“Yes, people want a younger generation of politicians. We have always talked about Joe Biden — even he has said it himself — as a transitional figure in our political life,” Wathum-Ocama said. “As much as we see that people, for whatever reason, may not be enthusiastic or whatever, to me what it means is that democracy is at stake.”

With virtually no exceptions, Democratic officials in Congress and in key states are coming out publicly in support of Biden’s re-election.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden’s strongest rival in the 2020 Democratic primary, endorsed Biden’s reelection bid hours after it was announced this spring. Biden recruited other potential rivals for his national advisory council. The group includes Ro Khanna, D-Calif.; JB Pritzker, Governor of Illinois, and Newsom, in California.

Republicans have delighted in suggesting that Newsom plans to launch a primary challenge against Biden, something the California governor has repeatedly ruled out. That’s even as Newsom hints at the possibility of a high-profile debate against Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor, who is among Trump’s top Republican rivals.
Meanwhile, in a show of confidence, Trump’s campaign has already begun pivoting toward a showdown against Biden in the general election.

His team says he currently plans to skip all Republican presidential debates after seeing few consequences for skipping the first one last month. DeSantis, once considered a powerful threat, has struggled to live up to expectations.

Trump’s relationships across the party and his expansive political machine have made it extremely difficult for others to break through.

“The president benefits from having led the party for the past eight years,” said Brian Jack, Trump’s political director.

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