Saturday, November 16, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 46

Out of all 50 states, only New Hampshire is known as having the First in the Nation Presidential Primary. While the Iowa Caucuses come first, New Hampshire is more like an actual election. Filing in that state has now closed, and this cycle, 50 people paid $1000 to compete for the right to govern the 50 states. Believe it or not, there have been cycles with more running in New Hampshire, but it seems like the number (at least of Democrats) of those who had been regarded as "serious" candidates is larger than it has ever been.

There will be 17 candidates on the GOP ballot, but besides Donald Trump, only Bill Weld or Joe Walsh will have a chance of even hitting one percent. (Perennial gadfly candidate Rocky de la Fuente has apparently filed to run in both party primary in the Granite State.) Not filing for New Hampshire on the Republican side was former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford. The most recent entrant on his party's side is also the first out of the race. With impeachment looming for the incumbent, Sanford determined that it would be hard to get his message about the national debt talked about much. Gee, really? Clearly, Sanford did not have the stomach for this. At least Welsh and Weld understand the stakes and the themes that must be presented against Trump.

Michael Bloomberg did not file on the Democrats' side, although he is expected to formally enter the race this week, and will focus his efforts beginning on the Super Tuesday states. Also not filing in New Hampshire was Hillary Clinton, although she is publicly saying "never say never" once again and saying many people want her to run for President. She may not realize that those many people are probably Republicans.

At one time, Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam was looked at by some as a "credible" Presidential candidate, for no other reason that the city he governs actually has more people than Mayor Pete's South Bend, Indiana. However, the Messam campaign appears to have been nothing more than a vanity exercise all along. Technically, he claims to still be a candidate, but has done virtually nothing towards those ends and did not file in New Hampshire.

However, a different African-American chief executive surprised many people this week by being a late entrant into the Democrat fray and filing in New Hampshire just in time. Months ago, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who now works at Bain Capital, once co-founded by his Gubernatorial predecessor Mitt Romney, said count him out. Now, he says count him in. Patrick is saying he can potentially unite the various wings of his party, although he admits his campaign is "like a Hail Mary from two stadiums away."

It is hard to see what Patrick can actually do in the field at this point, but all sorts of people from Massachusetts do like to run for President. Just days before, the state's Senator Elizabeth Warren was praising Patrick and saying that a spot would be there for him in her Cabinet. Now, they are opponents. What gets the most attention though, is that Patrick is close personally and politically to former President Barack Obama. Just this week, Obama issued a warning to his party not to go "too far left", and he is said to have done nothing to discourage Patrick from entering the race. What does that say about Joe Biden, the man who was Obama's Vice President for eight years and who frequently cites their connection? If nothing else, it appears that David Axlerod, Obama's Chicago based former political guru was pushing Chicago native Patrick into this race. All of this, along with the late Bloomberg entrance, speaks to a sense of "no confidence" among many Democrats, along with fear of Biden bombing as a candidate, or Warren or Bernie Sanders being too divisive to beat Trump, or questions about the experience and youth of the recently rising Pete Buttigieg.Ten Democrats will take the stage Wednesday night in Atlanta for the next in the series of debates.

Of course, the impending Impeachment of Donald Trump hangs over all of Campaign 2020 along with the very real possibility that any Democrat running for President who is also a U.S. Senator (five as of now), will be taken off the campaign trail for potentially several weeks, just as the first states prepare to vote. They will have to be Senator jurors after all. Many will ultimately rely on surrogates, while candidates who are not Senators might suddenly be able to make more local news in Iowa and New Hampshire to their benefit.

This week saw two days of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee related to the Ukraine scandal, with more testimony to come next week. As expected, allies of Trump think it went well for him and that the Democrats "have nothing" while those (in both parties) who are highly critical of Trump think that a lot of very damaging information came out. Count me in the latter camp, however, it is true that America may not exactly be riveted by all of this so far. It is kind of surreal to me as someone who remembers watching bits and pieces of the Clinton Impeachment Hearings, that we are this point again. Most expect the ultimate outcome will be the same, although clearly public opinion is more in favor of removing Trump than it ever was for Clinton and only seemed to be in the very late days about Richard Nixon in 1974.

As Members of the Committee and political partisans continue to fight it out at the hearings and in the media, it is in the best interest of Trump defenders to try to portray the hearings as "boring." That may somewhat be the case, although the facts seem pretty clear and dry. Trump did actions that would have been politically fatal for any other President at any other time. He benefits by being held to a lower ethical and legal standard than his predecessors. That might give him political cover to survive a trial, but make it harder for an election.

The behavior of Trump, especially on Twitter, continues to be a combustible wild card all these years later. People these days may not agree on much, but both sides, at least privately, will admit that his Tweet attacking the female Ambassador to Ukraine (and mentioning something like Somalia) he had fired during the very time she was testifying only did him harm.


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