Sunday, August 06, 2017


I have a few thoughts about this New York Times story:
Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse have already been to Iowa this year, Gov. John Kasich is eyeing a return visit to New Hampshire, and Mike Pence’s schedule is so full of political events that Republicans joke that he is acting more like a second-term vice president hoping to clear the field than a No. 2 sworn in a little over six months ago.

President Trump’s first term is ostensibly just warming up, but luminaries in his own party have begun what amounts to a shadow campaign for 2020 — as if the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue weren’t involved.
Pence is really going at it:
The vice president created his own political fund-raising committee, Great America Committee.... The group ... has overshadowed Mr. Trump’s own primary outside political group, America First Action, even raising more in disclosed donations.

Mr. Pence also installed Nick Ayers, a sharp-elbowed political operative, as his new chief of staff last month — a striking departure from vice presidents’ long history of elevating a government veteran to be their top staff member. Mr. Ayers had worked on many campaigns but never in the federal government....

Mr. Ayers has signaled to multiple major Republican donors that Mr. Pence wants to be ready....

[Pence] not only spoke in June at one of the most important yearly events for Iowa Republicans, Senator Joni Ernst’s pig roast, but he also held a separate, more intimate gathering for donors afterward....

The vice president has also turned his residence at the Naval Observatory into a hub for relationship building....

At large gatherings for contributors, Mr. Pence keeps a chair free at each table so he can work his way around the room.
The White House insists that everything is fine:
[Kellyanne] Conway pushed back strongly against questions about the story from ABC's George Stephanopoulos.

"It is absolutely true that the vice president is getting ready for 2020, for re-election as vice president," Conway said.

"So no concern he's setting up a shadow campaign?" Stephanopoulos asked.

"Zero concern. That is complete fiction. That is complete fabrication, and I know that his advisers who had comments attributed to them have pushed back very strongly, as has the vice president, and as am I right now unequivocally," Conway said.
A Pence spokesperson and Pence himself have denied the Times report -- but you just know Trump is ticked off.

Here's Trump problem: He probably thinks he can fire Pence, or can get someone on his staff to fire him. He can't. Pence doesn't serve at Trump's pleasure. The voters and the Electoral College made him vice president, and he can only be removed through death, resignation, impeachment, or defeat.

I wonder who had the job of explaining that to Trump.

The Times story makes clear that Pence, Cotton, Sasse, and Kasich are gunning for Trump in 2020, with Kasich being opening about a willingness to run even if Trump runs again. (The others are trying to make us believe that they'll run only if Trump isn't a candidate.)

I still don't think Trump will be removed by the impeachment process (or the 25th Amendment process) before the 2020 campaign gets under way -- I don't think there'll be enough renegade Republicans in the Senate to get to a two-thirds majority to remove Trump. (If the 25th Amendment is invoked, a two-thirds majority will be needed in the House as well.) I know that three years is an eternity in politics, but I think Trump's base is going to become more supportive if investigations close in on him. They'll continue to regard the process as a "deep state" coup. (Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit is already describing these GOP campaigns in the making as part of a "slow coup," as if running against an incumbent is somehow beyond the realm of legality in a democracy.)

If Trump is weakened enough by 2020 to draw several challengers, they'll probably cancel one another out in the primaries -- just the way the challengers did in 2012. The anti-Trump movement won't settle on one candidate, again. The one candidate who'll inspire real passion will be Trump.

If Trump hangs on relatively unscathed, even if he's still an awful president, he'll probably face, at most, just Kasich in the primaries, and Kasich will do as well as he did in 2012, because his rhetoric doesn't give GOP voters their minimum daily requirements of anti-liberal rage.

So I don't believe Trump can lose the 2020 nomination unless he's deceased, too sick to run again, or forced out of office by impeachment and Senate conviction. I suspect none of that will happen. And he won't just quit -- quitting would be shameful to him.

I don't blame Pence, Kasich, Sasse, and Cotton for making plans -- but first they need Republicans in the House and Senate to rid us of Trump, or they have to hope that the right-wing media will turn base voters against Trump. I don't see either of these things happening. I think Trump will win the nomination again.

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