Sunday, November 26, 2023


Now that it's finally dawning on the mainstream political world that Joe Biden could actually lose to Donald Trump next November, many in the media are imagining that a miracle intervention might save the president.

Hey, maybe Mitt Romney will save the Democrats! That's what The Hill seems to be imagining, to judge from this headline:
Romney says any Democrat would be ‘an upgrade’ over Trump in 2024
The problem is, Romney didn't actually say that. Here's what he said:
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) signaled that nearly any candidate in the 2024 field, of either party, would be an “upgrade” over another term for former President Trump.

“I’d be happy to support virtually any one of the Republicans — maybe not Vivek [Ramaswamy] — but the others that are running would be acceptable to me, and I’d be happy to vote for them,” the retiring senator said Friday in an interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell.

“I’d be happy to vote for a number of the Democrats too,” he continued. “It would be an upgrade, in my opinion, from Donald Trump and perhaps also from Joe Biden.”
He said he'd vote for "a number of the Democrats," not any Democrat.

So let's imagine something that won't happen: we wake up tomorrow morning and Joe Biden announces that he's withdrawing from the race. Would Romney back Kamala Harris if she went on to win the nomination? I bet he'd say she's too liberal and not competent. Would he back Gavin Newsom, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren? I'm sure they're way too far to the left for him. He might go for Gretchen Whitmer or Dean Phillips. But he's not telling us that any Democrat would have his vote. He's not about to become a de facto Democrat (though I agree with The Atlantic's McKay Coppins that he might endorse Biden next year).

Then we have this thoroughly implausible scenario:
Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie on Sunday sought to play down the potential consequences if rival Donald Trump loses the 2024 primary race but refuses to concede -- or even keeps running as a third-party candidate.

"No one will expect him to concede. He hasn't conceded the 2020 election. Who cares," Christie, a former governor of New Jersey and a Trump supporter-turned-critic, told ABC "This Week" co-anchor Jonathan Karl.

While Trump maintains a huge lead in national polling of Republican primary voters, he is in a slightly weaker front-runner position according to surveys in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote, where Christie and other challengers are hoping for an upset.
According to the FiveThirtyEight polling averages linked above, Trump has a 27-point lead in Iowa and nearly a 25-point lead in New Hampshire. He's backed by more voters in each state than he was three months ago. He's going to win both states unless he dies between now and early next year.

... And that's another magical-thinking scenario that's showing up in the press. Here's Business Insider:
Former President Donald Trump is far and away the Republican frontrunner heading into the 2024 election.

He is 77 years old and will be 78 in June.

If Trump dies while seeking reelection, a few different things could happen, depending on when he dies and how close it is to Election Day....

If Trump died during primary season — which ends in mid-June — some states may postpone their scheduled primaries....

If Trump died after the last primary contest but before the Republican National Convention, the other GOP presidential candidates would have to make a case to every state delegation at the convention for why they should be the party's nominee.

And if Trump secured the GOP nomination but died between the convention and Election Day 2024, the RNC would convene to select another presidential candidate.
In The New York Times, Michelle Cottle seems to echo this, with a side order of "I swear this time Trump really is losing his marbles":
He is up to his wattle in criminal indictments, and even if none land him in prison, the grinding stress and his advanced age look to be taking a toll on his mental acuity. Watching his increasingly disjointed rants, one cannot help but think, “Something ain’t right.” He seems as likely as President Biden to suffer a serious health event — maybe more if you factor in all those burgers.
Trump is fine. Trump draws nourishment from fighting everyone who hates him. I'm not saying he absolutely won't suffer a health problem in the next year, but the quest to defeat his enemies clearly gives his life meaning and purpose, so my strong hunch is that he won't.

Just accept the fact that Trump is a formidable enemy and will need to be faced down. Insinuating that he's lost his mojo has never worked and won't work now. Joe Biden and the Democratic Party need to fight him harder. Suggestions that Trump is weak have never worked before and won't work now.

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