Trump Not Running In 2020? Don’t Bet On It
Hoping that Donald Trump might not run for reelection? Don't get your hopes up.
Former Republican and former Florida Congressman Joe Scarborough thinks Donald Trump won’t run for re-election in 2020:
It has been nearly three years since Donald Trump descended his faux-gold escalator to announce an improbable run for president, and Republican politicians seem just as baffled by the reality TV star’s future as they were the day he first launched this publicity stunt gone wildly wrong.
It is true that GOP leaders stand silent as President Trump trashes the rule of law, attacks federal judges and declares America’s free press the “enemy of the people.” These lap dogs even remain muzzled as younger Americans are chained to a future of crippling debt. And they shame the memory of the first Republican president — who gave his life ending slavery — by marching alongside a bumbling bigot who labels Hispanics ”breeders” and “rapists,” seeks to bar tens of millions of Muslims from entering the country, and defends white supremacy in the ugly aftermath of Charlottesville.
And yet these same morally enfeebled enablers have become muted when asked whether they’ll support their fearless leader’s reelection bid.
“Look, I’m focused on opioids,” muttered Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander, suggesting that a U.S. senator is not mentally adept enough to fight a drug epidemic while also figuring out whether he backs a president in his own party. Alexander is not the only GOP senator to offer up tortured answers to this simple question.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (Tex.) refused to answer, explaining that he had not given the question much thought because things could change in the time before the 2020 campaign revs up.
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker (Tenn.) spent four days grasping for an answer to a question he called “unfair” before finally saying he didn’t want to “make news.” Other GOP lawmakers are no more eager to talk about the 2020 campaign than Trump himself wants to discuss the intricacies of Stormy Daniels’s lawsuit.
Scarborough goes on to recite a number of other examples of news that has unfolded over the past two weeks or so with regard to the Administration and the manner in which the President has acted in response to developments in the news. This includes that rumors regarding an imminent major staff change at the White House or in elsewhere in the Administration, the dispute that unfolded last week when United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said in an appearance on Face The Nation that new sanctions would be announced early last week only to be undercut by the White House, and the search warrants executed against longtime Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen which clearly have people close to Trump and the President himself agitated far more than the Russia investigation. I’ve cataloged much of this and more here at OTB myself, and it certainly does seem that recent developments have thrown the President off in a way that we haven’t seen in at least a year when he was so put-off by the Russia investigation that he fired the F.B.I. Director and, only days later, admitted he did it because of the Bureau’s investigation of Russian interference in the election and potential collusion between people close to the President and Russian officials or people close to them.
All of this is true, of course, but it’s a far cry from here to the conclusion that Trump might not run for re-election. Is it possible? Sure, anything is possible.
It’s possible, and becoming more likely, for example, that Democrats will gain control of one or both House of Congress in the fall. Such a development would put considerable pressure on Trump going forward since it would mean that it would be difficult if not impossible for him to get any kind of agenda through Congress without major concessions to Democrats. If the Democrats take control of the Senate, then Trump can likely say goodbye to any chance of being able to appoint the kind of Judges or Supreme Court Justices he promised to appoint during the campaign. Indeed, it’s possible that a Democratic Senate might decide that turnabout is fair play and refuse to consider any of Trump’s Judicial nominees until after the election. Democratic control of either chamber would mean that the Russia investigation will remain alive and well as we head into the 2020 campaign season. And, of course, if Democrats take control of the House of Representatives there will be no small degree of pressure from the party’s base for that body to at least consider Articles of Impeachment.
As for 2020, I suppose that it’s possible that something will break in the Russia investigation, or in the new investigations regarding Michael Cohen, that could lead to peril for Trump serious enough to put his political future in doubt. It’s also possible that Trump, who would be 74 years old on Election Day 2020, may just decide it’s not worth it to run for re-election, especially if there’s a chance he might not win or that he’d be facing a second term with Democrats in control of Congress.
The question is how likely is it that this will happen? And the only answer anyone can come up with at this point is that nobody knows.
For whatever it’s worth, Trump himself is certainly moving forward like someone who intends on running for re-election in two years. He set up a re-election campaign only a year after entering office, an unusual move for a first-term President but one that allows him to conduct the campaign-style rallies that he clearly loves to do. He’s hired a campaign manager who has taken the lead in being one of the leading cheerleaders for the President outside the White House, and he’s acting for all the world like someone who plans on running for re-election. He could end up pulling the plug on all of this and following in Lyndon Johnson’s footsteps. Such a move wouldn’t be typical for Trump, though. Say what you will about him, but he doesn’t strike me as someone who would just give up and walk away. Many people have said that he entered the race in 2015 never thinking that he’d win the GOP nomination, never mind the Presidency itself. Now that he has, though, I don’t see him giving it up without a fight unless something changes drastically in the next two years. As things stand right now though, my thought is that contra Scarborough’s supposition, Trump will stand for re-election and that he will, at least initially, be favored to win.