Trump Is Still On Track To Win Reelection

Back in December, I penned an op-ed here making the case that President Donald Trump would likely win re-election. At the time, Newsweek insinuated I was off my rocker. They were not alone; throngs of folks on social media and via email informed me that I probably rode the short bus to school in my early years and that everyone would be better served if I just went away.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Trump is even closer to winning reelection now than he was at the end of last year. I am not alone in this observation. The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter is seeing the playing field much the same way I am.

Heading into 2020, Trump’s primary strengths remain incumbency — since 1900, nearly 80 percent of incumbent presidents have been reelected — and the economy.  Since FDR, every incumbent president, “who has avoided a recession in the lead-up to an election year was re-elected.” A trade truce or deal with China will most likely ensure a recession does not occur before next November.

Contrarians point to national polls and the slew of battleground state surveys, including Florida, and argue Trump is losing “bigly” to a handful of candidates and is therefore toast. The situation is certainly not ideal for Trump, but early polling from previous presidential tilts suggests the media and anti-Trump forces are getting way ahead of themselves. Who can forget that in June of 1983, eventual Democratic nominee Walter Mondale was leading President Ronald Regan by 10 points or that in June of 2011 a generic Republican presidential candidate was leading President Obama by 5 points?

Unless something totally unforeseen happens such as a major military conflict, the global economy tanks, a Thomas Eagleton situation grips the Democratic Party, Trump becomes ill, etc., this is going to be a close race — the country is just that evenly divided, and thus the race will likely be decided by just a handful of states (FL, NC, AZ, IA, PA, WI, MI).

The biggest hurdle the Trump reelect faces is that his disapproval rating has hovered above 50 percent for quite some time. The Democrats can thank their willing accomplices in the press big time for that.

So what does Trump need to do to win reelection? His team can start by taking a page out of the 2012 Obama campaign playbook — and that is precisely what the Trump campaign is doing.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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Team Trump Schemes To Sever Biden From Obama

The prevailing opinion inside the Trump campaign is that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden remains the most likely candidate to capture the Democratic nomination, and the campaign is plotting ways to sever Mr. Biden from the image of beloved former President Barack Obama.

Trump campaign officials said they expect Mr. Biden will survive the racial flap stirred up by Sen. Kamala D. Harris last week at the Democrats’ first 2020 primary debate in Miami. But the episode, they said, exposed an avenue of attack that could circumvent the aura of Mr. Obama that often protects his former right-hand man.

“Even though Biden took a big hit from Harris, the Trump campaign is operating under the assumption that he is still best positioned to be the nominee. That doesn’t mean they are not keeping an eye on Kamala and [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren, because they are,” said Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell, who works closely with the White House.

The formula for going after Mr. Biden in a general election, he said, would be to aim for his six-term record as a senator from Delaware rather than his two terms in the White House alongside the country’s first black president.

“He’s got an Obama card he can play, but the problem is the 36 years of baggage before Obama. That’s the ticket in terms of getting him,” Mr. O’Connell said.

Ms. Harris used the same tactic in the debate to hit Mr. Biden for his opposition to federally mandated busing to desegregate public schools in the 1970s.

Mr. Biden is viewed as a unique threat to Mr. Trump because of the former vice president’s purported appeal among blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt who unexpectedly tilted the race to Mr. Trump in 2016.

Read more from S.A. Miller at The Washington Times

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Democrats' Sharp Left Turn Could Hurt Party In 2020 Elections

The Democratic Party has taken a sharp turn to the left as its contenders for the 2020 U.S. presidency are on their campaign trips. If it veers too far, the party could turn off moderate voters and hurt its chances of clinching the White House in 2020, experts said.

Indeed, the party's leftward shift was on full display recently during the first round of Democratic debates. When the moderator asked which candidates would provide free health insurance to illegal migrants, every candidate raised their hand in a moment that grabbed headlines nationwide.

Indeed, there is a trend of candidates with moderate track records suddenly shifting their stance to support radical policies. But candidates have found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Still, U.S. President Donald Trump will have to make an effort to push his own narrative, which is that far-left policies would be a disaster for the economy.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said: "What they are pushing should hurt them, but it's going to be largely up to Trump to make sure he drives the nail into the coffin."

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Joe Biden Defends Race Record Friday After Kamala Harris’ Takedown

Joe Biden was doing damage control Friday, playing up his civil rights bona fides in an attempt to contain the fallout from Kamala Harris’ scathing attack on his race record during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

Biden has come under fire in the past week for invoking the names of two segregationist senators as examples of working across the aisle — criticism Harris refused to let slide Thursday, calling Biden out for his “hurtful” remarks and slamming his 1970s stances on the practice of busing to integrate schools.

Harris, a black senator from California, drew on her personal experience with busing during Thursday’s clash, saying, “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

Biden, who has enjoyed a wealth of support from the black community thus far, was on the defensive Friday in Chicago. He said he “never, ever, ever opposed voluntary busing” — which he said impacted Harris’ life. And he said, “I fought my heart out to ensure that civil rights and voting rights, equal rights, are enforced everywhere.”

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said if there was ever a time for Biden to play the Obama card, it should have been during the debate.

Biden should have said, “‘Do you think Barack Obama would have put a racist on the ticket?’” O’Connell told the Herald. “He could have been done with that answer in one second.”

“I don’t know whether or not this is going to erode his support with the African American community,” O’Connell said. “If it does, he’s going to be in serious trouble.”

Both O’Connell and former Mitt Romney adviser Ryan Williams said Biden’s debate performance exposed how rusty he was — which doesn’t bode well both for securing the Democratic nomination or for the perception of how well Biden could take on President Trump.

Read more from Lisa Kashinsky at the Boston Herald

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Trump's Health Care Pitch To Focus On Lowering Costs

President Trump wants to seize the health care mantle from Democrats ahead of the 2020 election by highlighting actions he says will lower costs and challenge special interests.

Trump is touting a series of actions on drug pricing and other consumer-friendly issues, a move designed to position the president as a populist champion of transparency and reduced medical bills.

But the president faces an uphill battle, as Democrats won’t let voters forget his record on health care, including repeated efforts to repeal and undermine ObamaCare.

Earlier this week, he issued an executive order that would force hospitals, insurers and doctors to disclose their prices upfront.

The executive order seeks to bring more transparency to the health care system and could shine a light on opaque price negotiations. The administration argues that will drive down costs because it would empower patients to shop around for the best prices, though some critics argue it could have the opposite effect.

If patients know the costs of health care services up front, the White House argues, it could help prevent surprise medical bills, which are increasingly becoming a source of anxiety for Americans.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said Trump can argue that he alone is trying to lower health costs, because Democrats are preventing Congress from acting.

“His goal is very simple: Convince voters he wants to protect pre-existing condition protections, and drive down costs,” O’Connell said. “Trump knows he’s behind on the issue.”

O’Connell added that right now, it doesn’t even matter if the administration’s efforts succeed.

“He is building a narrative. It’s great if costs come down, but that’s not the focus,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Nathaniel Weixel and Jessie Hellman at The Hill

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Here’s Who Has The Most To Gain — And Lose — From The First Democratic Debates

The first round of presidential primary debates this week will give most of the two dozen Democratic contenders their biggest platform yet to present themselves to the American people.

The rapid-fire debate format — candidates will get just one minute to answer questions and 30 seconds to respond to follow-ups — may be designed for maximum fairness. But the 20 Democrats set to participate in the debates Wednesday and Thursday night are hardly coming to the Miami stage on equal footing.

For most of the candidates stuck in the low single-digits in national polls, the first debates are a chance to make a strong national introduction as much as they are a forum to lay out a policy agenda. Candidates such as Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan or New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who cleared the threshold to take part in the debates but have yet to garner much national support, “really have nothing to lose,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.

It’s a different story for the front-runners. Former Vice President Joe Biden, for instance, has enjoyed a consistent double-digit polling advantage since announcing his 2020 run, and he will arrive at the debate Thursday as the prime target for most of the field, political analysts told CNBC.

“He has the most to lose, and the rest of the field will have their knives out,” O’Connell said. “They’re coming for him, period. The only question is whether or not they’re able to lay a glove on him.”

“Obviously some candidates are not thrilled. I’m sure Elizabeth Warren is the one who’s most unthrilled at the moment,” O’Connell said.

Of course, the Democrats’ most-wanted target is expected to be President Donald Trump himself. The president told Fox News’ Sean Hannity last week that he is considering live-tweeting his reactions to the debates.

“Even though every candidate’s going to take a swipe at Trump, he has a lot to gain here,” O’Connell said, because “this is the most important time” for the incumbent president “to define his opponent.”

“This is exactly how [President Barack] Obama beat [former GOP nominee Mitt] Romney in 2012,” O’Connell said. “I mean, by the time he was the official nominee, he was already a dog-killer in some people’s eyes. ”

Read more from Kevin Breuninger at CNBC

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Support for Biden Steady After Comments About Segregationist Senators

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s comments about working with segregationist senators don’t appear to have dented him, according to new polling showing he remains the overwhelming front-runner ahead of this week’s first Democratic presidential primary debates.

Mr. Biden was the choice of 38% of Democratic primary voters — the same level of support as last week and 19 points ahead of Sen. Bernard Sanders, his nearest competitor, according to a Morning Consult poll finalized Monday.

A separate survey Morning Consult conducted in coordination with Politico found Democrats appeared to like Mr. Biden’s joking about not being called “boy” and his ability to work with Democrats who were avowed segregationists.

Some 31% of Democrats said the incident made them more likely to support Mr. Biden, while just 17% said they were less inclined to back him. Another 40% said it wouldn’t make a difference.

Among blacks, 30% said it made them more likely to support Mr. Biden, 20% said less likely, and 27% said it made no difference.

The Morning Consult/Politico survey found, if anything, the dust-up hurt Mr. Booker.

“Could he blow this? Absolutely. But for now, it’s his nomination to lose,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

Mr. Biden’s base of support is coming from minority voters, particularly blacks, and older voters — demographics that hold outsize influence in Democratic primary contests — who haven’t found reason to abandon him en masse, he said.

“If you want to boil it down to two slogans, it’s very simple: it’s ‘my buddy Barack,’ and ‘a return to normalcy’ for seniors,” Mr. O’Connell said. “[Obama’s] numbers among Democrats are even better than Trump’s dogged support among Republicans … it’s absolutely mind-numbing.”

Read more from David Sherfinski at The Washington Times

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Trump’s 2020 Re-Election Rally Signals 2016 Strategy May Be Used Again

Donald Trump repeatedly railed against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as a friendly Florida crowd cheered and jeered. Only it wasn’t 2016 — it was just six days ago.

The president took a crowd of supporters in Orlando on a journey through time last Tuesday as he formally announced his re-election bid. He dropped his now-familiar attack lines that elicited chants of “Lock her up” for Clinton and boos for Obama.

Curiously, he opted against aiming rhetorical jabs at most of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls. It was a departure from almost every other rally he has held since becoming president — including his homestretch barnstorming for Republican Senate nominees before last year’s midterms.

The president flashed a 2020 approach that closely resembles the one he employed three years ago from places like Madison, Alabama; Dimondale, Michigan; Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and Manheim, Pennsylvania. Only now, Obama appears to be enjoying his post-presidency and Clinton won’t be on the ballot.

Trump and his campaign are already trying to rebuild the 2016 Electoral College map that improbably put him in the White House in the first place. Republican and Democratic strategists call that a long shot, and it begs the question: Can the same message that fueled a dark horse campaign work for an incumbent four years later?

Another hurdle is a disapproval rating that consistently hovers around 50 percent, said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist.

“No modern president who has avoided recession has not been re-elected,” he said. “So if he avoids that, the disapproval number is probably what worries them the most.”

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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Jeff Sessions Should Enter AL Senate Primary, Defeat Roy Moore

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is like a bad penny. He keeps showing up at the most inopportune moments, and he just did it again for the second time within two years.

He announced Thursday afternoon that he’s going to run again for a U.S. Senate seat against the Democrat who defeated him before.

Pundits agree that the most vulnerable 2020 U.S. Senate seat will be that held by Alabama Democratic Doug Jones. He won it in a 2017 special election to fill the vacancy left By Jeff Sessions, who was appointed as President Donald Trump’s first attorney general.

Jones squeaked past Moore by fewer than 22,000 votes, winning a seat that had been solidly Republican for two decades. A year earlier Trump won 62 percent of that state’s voters to his side, versus the 34 percent Hillary Clinton won.

So far three other Republicans have declared their intention to run for the seat: U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, State Rep. Arnold Mooney, and Tommy Tuberville.

Pundits and strategists say that 2020 may bring as many as 10 more Republican candidates.

2020 will be a different ballgame than the 2017 special election. President Donald Trump will head the ballot and bring more GOP candidates along with him. On the minus side, however, Jones is not the typical Democrat, especially when considering the party’s hard turn to the left.

For that reason, coupled with the fact that he’ll be running as an incumbent, Republican strategist Ford O'Connell tells Newsmax that the Alabama race will likely be a tossup.

Read more from Michael Dorstewitz at Newsmax

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'Gloves off': Biden Segregationist Comments Spark Infighting Ahead Of Dems 1st Debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden doubled down on his remarks about maintaining political "civility" with his segregationist colleagues in the Senate back in the day, sparking the first major family feud in the Democratic primaries.

Democratic presidential hopefuls have quickly escalated from veiled attacks on Biden's age, to directly criticizing his record of support for abortion restrictions in the Hyde amendment, mandatory minimum sentences in the 1994 crime bill to insinuating that the septuagenarian ex-senator is soft on racism.

Looking at the polls, it isn't difficult to see why Biden is a marked man within his party. National polls show Biden leading the field of 21 candidates by double digits, consistently.

According to a recent Economist/YouGov poll, 50% of black Democratic primary voters support Biden. The closest contender, Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders is polling at 10%, followed by California Sen. Kamala Harris with 7%.

Biden is also dominating the older vote. Two polls released this week show Biden with more than a 30-point advantage among voters over the age of 50. The race is much tighter among younger voters.

As more 2020 presidential hopefuls pile on Biden ahead of next week's debates, it is prompting questions about whether Biden is just a folksy "gaffe machine," as he has described himself, or if his comments will make him unelectable by the increasingly progressive Democratic Party.

For Republicans, the latest fracas over Biden's segregationist remarks creates an obvious advantage, if the Democrats do the dirty work of tearing apart their party's frontrunner.

"Depending on how this car wreck unfolds, moments like this have the potential to help Trump get reelected," said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell. "Because the Democrats either set up a purity standard that no one can pass or they upset their own people in the primary who then don't turn out to vote in the general election."

With the potential for another close presidential race in 2020, a margin of a few thousand voters in a few key states who were marginalized in a bitter primary could make all the difference in who holds the White House.

Read more from Leandra Bernstein at WJLA

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