Tuesday, September 10, 2019


For more than a year, I've been telling you that Donald Trump Jr. will be a serious candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. Suddenly that idea is all the rage -- Rick Wilson says Junior will win the nomination in 2024, and now McCay Coppins has a cover story in The Atlantic arguing that Junior, and not Ivanka, is President Trump's natural political heir.

But now that everyone's talking this way, I'm not so sure. I agree with Coppins that Ivanka won't carry on the dynasty, much as Daddy would like her to. She's completely out of sync with the GOP. Coppins writes this about the 2016 campaign:
Ivanka kept her distance from the uncouth rallies in places like Reno, Nevada, and Toledo, Ohio. While Trump riled up the country with Muslim-ban proposals and Mexican-rapist panics, she perched herself on a higher plane, where she just wanted to talk about the issues that really mattered to her, like affordable child care and the gender pay gap. Campaign staffers grumbled that Ivanka’s policy preferences were more closely aligned with Aspen weekenders than Rust Belt voters. “People started to realize this wasn’t about Trump’s vision,” one former aide told me. “It was about Ivanka’s ability to feel comfortable in her New York circle.”
Junior connects with the base, according to Coppins. A couple of days ago, I mentioned a rally in Kentucky at which Junior drew only 200 people to a venue with a capacity of 7,000. But if Coppins is to be believed, that was an anomaly:
As the 2018 midterm elections approached, Don decided to get serious about politics....

At the University of Georgia, more than 2,000 young Republicans lined up to hear him speak. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland, he was swarmed by fans clamoring for selfies and autographs. Charlie Kirk, the founder of the student organization Turning Point USA, recalled a summit in West Palm Beach that featured conservative A-listers such as Tucker Carlson, Greg Gutfeld, and Jordan Peterson. Don drew a bigger crowd than any of them.

... the stump was where Don really shined. Taking the stage to wild applause from riled-up MAGA-heads, he riffed and ranted and cracked jokes about gender identity....

By November 2018, Don had appeared at more than 70 campaign events across 17 states—and powerful Republicans were abuzz. “I could very easily see him entering politics,” Senator Kevin Cramer told me. “I think his future is bright,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Newsmax’s CEO, Chris Ruddy, told me he’d personally encouraged Don to run for office; Sean Hannity called him “a born natural leader.” Senator Rand Paul went so far as to say that Don was one of the best Republican campaigners in the country. “If you can’t get the president,” Paul told me, “he’s a close second.”

... Cramer ... spent 15 minutes in a phone interview gushing to me about Don’s “accessibility” and “irreverence” and gift for “connecting” with voters. But when I asked him about Ivanka, he paused. “She’s a little bit harder to get,” he replied, politely. “Her faith prevents her from traveling on the Sabbath.” Charlie Kirk was similarly careful when we spoke. While all of Trump’s adult children were helpful to the cause, he told me, “I can honestly say that outside of his father, Don is the No. 1 most requested speaker, and he brings the most energy to the conservative base.”
But Coppins describes a family dynamic in which Dad continues to praise Ivanka (even as he calls his daughter and her husband "New York liberals") while treating Junior with contempt.
His attitude toward each of his adult children on any given day is shaped by how they are playing on cable news. Ivanka tends to draw rave reviews, while Don’s are more mixed, with the president muttering things like “Why did he say that?” and “He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Coppins thinks Dad has been warming to Junior lately, though he doesn't present much evidence. It seems likely to me that Trump would try to sabotage his son's moves into politics. Remember this:
When fans began calling on [Junior] to run for mayor of New York City—and Don responded with a bit too much enthusiasm—his father quickly shut it down. “Don’s not going to run for mayor,” he said in an interview with Sean Hannity.
Ivanka would probably try to sabotage Junior as well:
... as Don’s visibility grew, the cold war between him and Ivanka intensified. Now that each had their own teams of allies and advisers, they had grown paranoid that the other’s henchmen were planting damaging stories about them in the press. A few days before the midterms, McClatchy published a story under the headline “Trump Kids on the Campaign Trail: Don Jr. Wows, Ivanka Disappoints.” Ivanka’s camp was enraged, and suspected that Don was behind the story. Later, Don confronted Ivanka over rumors that her team was undermining him in off-the-record conversations with reporters. “Tell your people to stop trashing me to the media,” he said, according to someone familiar with the conversation.
George W. Bush was his family's unloved son and he became president -- but he was mentored by Karl Rove, who believed in him more than his own family did. Dubya liked himself, even if his family didn't. I think Don Jr. has an inferiority complex. Instead of imagining himself as president, he's looked into running for office in the Mountain West, according to Coppins. By Trump standards, that's aiming low.

So while I think Junior should be a contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nominee -- he's stupid, he believes in conspiracy theories, and he's consumed with right-wing rage -- I question whether he'll run, or win if he does run. Dad will never willingly pass the scepter to him. He feels sabotaged within his family. His ego isn't as massive as his father's (or his sister's). I'd almost feel sorry for Junior if he weren't such a horrible person.

No comments: