If you looked at the shape of the presidential race when Donald Trump made a not-so-grand return to the stage following the 2022 November midterms, you will have noticed that the anti-Trump media was tripping all over themselves to write the story of Donald Trump’s sad demise. The subdued theatrics in announcing his 2024 presidential campaign looked worn and half-baked before a home crowd limited to his most ardent supporters, they gleefully reported. Hard as they tried, they were barely able to contain their schadenfreude, while cautiously weighing the relative plusses and minuses of taking on their arch-enemy for a third time.
But then, suddenly and dramatically, the state of the race took a sharp right turn. In a 21st-century-styled Bobby Thomson moment, the indictment heard ‘round the world immediately shifted the central focus of the nascent presidential campaign from the record of Joe Biden to the arrest of Donald Trump – for what tens of millions believe are literally trumped-up charges. The glee was undeniable and palpable on the left when Trump was finally, finally arrested. His enemies had, at last, put a pitch in play after hitting so many foul balls over the years.
However, there are now undoubtedly more than a few whispers about being careful what you wish for emanating from the left. To wit, since his arrest, Trump has risen sharply in primary polls – and noticeably in general election surveys. He is lapping the field by almost 30 points (!) in the battle for the GOP nomination and leads Biden beyond the margin of error in two recent polls by Rasmussen (7 points) and Harvard-Harris (4 points).
With that backdrop, the likely addition of one highly respected candidate to the GOP field, the subtraction of another thought likely to run, and a somewhat mixed signal from the incumbent Democratic president has sharpened the contours of the race.
2024 Presidential Race: Addition and Subtraction
The names of Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been mentioned prominently in recent months, but the two came to opposite conclusions about entering the presidential fray in recent days. Not since Frederick Douglass ran for the highest office in the land has such a high-ranking black defender of conservative values thrown his hat into the ring. In fact, Scott would become the first black U.S. senator to seek the GOP nomination. And this week he announced the formation of an exploratory committee, which in political parlance is the proscribed step a candidate takes right before jumping into the race. Scott is planning to tailor his appeal to evangelical Christians who may want to move on from Trump, though many believe he is ultimately running for the number two spot on the ticket. In terms of his own presidential ambitions, Scott does have the advantage of timing – the third primary of the season will be held in his home state of South Carolina, where he just won a landslide victory for a second full term in the Senate.
At the same time, Pompeo decided to call his presidential ambitions to a halt, at least for 2024. Given his expertise in foreign policy and recent experience in US-Russia relations, on its face Pompeo has the right stuff to serve amidst the first major ground war in decades. But he evidently has not polled well, and given that Trump presided over a time of relative peace and no new outbreaks of war, there was little room for his own top diplomat to replace him in the hearts and minds of the Republican faithful. Why would voters go for the second tier when they can opt for the man who has already served, and most conservatives believe successfully so, as commander-in-chief? In the end, with Trump once again sucking all the oxygen out of the room following his arrest, there was no place left for the respected and accomplished Mr. Pompeo to go – beyond just inserting his name in the national conversation and/or a sweet book deal. But unlike so many others – a dozen or more of the 2016 GOP hopefuls, for example, had zero chance of winning – Pompeo bowed out.
Then we come to a statement by Joe Biden that is at once vague and yet highly suggestive. As he was heading home after his trip to Ireland, he claimed that an announcement regarding his bid for re-election would be coming “relatively soon,” adding that “I told you my plan is to run again.” But this again begs the question of why it has taken this long for Biden to do what most everyone expects. According to numerous reliable sources, he was planning to announce his re-election bid as early as February, shortly after his State of the Union address. The fact he has waited well beyond that could be interpreted in multiple ways. He may still have some uncertainty about running. He might believe he will lose. Or he might think he has already beaten Donald Trump once, expects to beat him again, and can take his sweet time making his candidacy official.
But no matter how one interprets the comings and goings of presidential hopefuls, Donald Trump, martyred by his arrest, has likely driven another candidate from the presidential race as he continues what increasingly seems like an inexorable march to a third straight presidential nomination – and rematch with the man who replaced him in the ultimate seat of power.
All opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Liberty Nation.
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