He's running in 2024. What are his odds?
I’m Isaac Saul, and this is Tangle: an independent, nonpartisan, subscriber-supported politics newsletter that summarizes the best arguments from across the political spectrum on the news of the day — then “my take.”
Today's read: 13 minutes.
- House Republicans nominated Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for speaker of the House, beating out a challenge from Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ). McCarthy did not get the 218 votes he'll need in January to secure the nomination. (The nomination)
- Florida Senator Rick Scott (R) says he will challenge Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for minority leader in the Senate. (The challenge)
- A missile that landed in Poland and killed two people was reportedly taken out of the sky by the Ukrainian air defense. Poland borders Ukraine and is a member of NATO, territory President Biden has sworn to defend. (The territory)
- Walmart announced a $3.1 billion settlement framework to resolve lawsuits against it by local, state and tribal governments over the opioid epidemic. (The settlement)
- The White House is asking Congress to provide it with another $48 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine and to battle Covid-19 and other infectious diseases. (The request)
Our 'Quick Hits' section is created in partnership with Ground News, a website and app that rates the bias of news coverage and news outlets.
Former President Trump. Last night, former President Donald Trump officially announced his plans to run for president again in 2024. Just hours before, he also filed the requisite campaign paperwork. This will be Trump’s third bid for the White House, and he has the opportunity to become just the second president to win two nonconsecutive terms (the first was Grover Cleveland, in 1884 and 1892).
During the announcement, which took place in front of about 1,000 attendees at Mar-a-Lago, Trump laid out the case for his campaign. He criticized the Biden administration for historic inflation, a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the increase in gas prices, lack of control at the southern border, and an increase in violent crime. Describing Biden as the "face of left-wing failure," Trump promised to unleash American energy, crack down on drugs and crime, reinstate his "Remain in Mexico" policy, and fight the Republican establishment and "deep state."
His speech was a mix of American carnage and calls for hope. He described "blood-soaked" streets full of crime, warned of an "invasion" by unknown unauthorized immigrants, and promised to institute the death penalty for drug dealers. He simultaneously called for a movement of "love" and "hope," inviting both Democrats and Republicans to join him in an effort to take the country back from the Biden administration.
Notably absent from Trump's speech was any mention of abortion, an issue many pollsters believe helped drive Democrats to their historic success in the 2022 midterms. Trump also gave a hearty endorsement to Herschel Walker, the Republican Senate candidate heading for a runoff in Georgia, pleading with voters to hit the polls and support his campaign.
Trump's family and several political allies attended the announcement event, and at one point he asked both his son, Eric Trump, and his wife Melania to stand for acknowledgement. Ivanka Trump, the former president's high-profile daughter and former advisor, did not attend and has said she plans to remain out of the political fray to focus on her family (Jared, Ivanka's husband, was in the audience). Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of Trump's staunchest allies in the soon-to-be Republican-controlled House, also skipped the event, citing poor weather in the Washington D.C. area.
Trump, who has falsely asserted that the 2020 election was stolen from him and whose first term ended with the January 6 riots at the capitol, will be running a much different campaign than he did in 2020.
Many of his top allies, including his former Vice President Mike Pence, several former chiefs of staff, and a host of right-wing media pundits, have abandoned his campaign. Two of his top mega donors from the last two campaigns — Stephen A. Schwarzman and Ken Griffin — have said they won't support him this time around. He is the subject of multiple state and federal investigations. The Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal, Fox News and New York Post, which drive so much conservative commentary, seem cool on a Trump presidency. Finally, unlike 2020, Trump is expected to be challenged by other members of the Republican party in a primary.
Now that Trump's hat is in the ring, the next question is who that challenger may be. All eyes are currently on Ron DeSantis, who won his race for Florida governor in dominant fashion and has been showered in praise by the Republican establishment since. Trump has been criticizing DeSantis since election night, insisting he was disloyal for not having already bowed out of a 2024 run. On Monday, DeSantis responded to those criticisms.
"You take incoming fire, that's just the nature of it," he said. “All that is just noise....at the end of the day, I would just tell people to check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night."
Trump's announcement comes on the heels of a surprisingly poor midterm performance for Republicans, for which various factions of the party blamed either Trump or the establishment GOP. The most recent polls suggest Trump will be a favorite to win the Republican primary and a competitive candidate against President Biden if he decides to run for re-election. Just before the midterm elections, The Wall Street Journal polled 1,500 registered voters and found Trump and Biden in a dead heat, each with 46% of the vote.
Right after the midterms, a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that 47% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents would vote for Trump in a Republican presidential primary, while 33% would vote for DeSantis. No other candidate got above 5% in the poll, while former Vice President Mike Pence got exactly 5%.
Today, we're going to take a look at some reactions to Trump's announcement from the left and right, then my take.
What the left is saying.
- Many on the left say America deserves better than Trump, and insist he has proven himself to be unfit for office.
- Some suggest the announcement was "low energy" by Trump standards, and point to challenges for him ahead.
- Others predict Republicans will fall in line and support him even if the party is starkly divided right now.
The New York Times editorial board said "America deserves better than Donald Trump."
"As president, he showed himself to be incompetent and self-dealing. He should have been convicted by the Senate in 2019 for abusing his power and in 2021 for inciting an insurrection. Voters repudiated him at the ballot box after his second campaign, but he has the legal right to try again, so Americans must weather the trial of a third candidacy," the board said. "If he is still in the race when the first votes are cast in 2024, the election will once again be a referendum on American democracy, because if our system of government is to survive, voters must choose leaders who accept and submit to the rule of law... Legal proceedings against Mr. Trump and investigations related to his actions around Jan. 6, election interference in Georgia and his mishandling of classified information at his home in Florida also need to continue.
"His rise to power was built on the idea that he is a winner and, for many Republicans, his victory in 2016 was sufficient justification for having supported him. It allowed the party to cut taxes and take firm control of the Supreme Court, opening an era of conservative jurisprudence, including the reversal of Roe v. Wade this year," the board said. "But Republicans, even those who share Mr. Trump’s views on issues like China, trade and immigration, should recognize that it is shortsighted to pursue such goals by undermining the integrity of the political process. If Americans doubt the legitimacy of elections and their leaders fuel and inflame those doubts, they will no longer accept the legitimacy of decisions or policies of the federal government that contradict their views."
In MSNBC, James Downie called it a "shockingly low energy" announcement.
"Trump’s announcement Tuesday didn't have a backlit entrance or a bizarre descent on an escalator. Instead, it was perhaps, to borrow a Trump phrase, the most 'low energy' speech of his career," Downie said. "Minute after minute, he droned on. 'This is something I don't need,' he admitted at one point, 'and a lot of you people don’t need, either.' After nearly 40 minutes, perhaps sensing how bored his audience was, he urged them to sit down. Even Fox News cut away. 'We’re going back to President Trump,' said host Laura Ingraham, 'when news warrants.' It wasn't just Trump's tired delivery that made the speech so boring.
"It was the fact that there was nothing new: no real policies to fight inflation, no long-awaited pivot to the center. 'Cheating' in the 2020 election, the 'invasion' at the border, Hillary Clinton's emails, 'globalists' — all the old hits were played, and most of the dog whistles were blown," Downie said. "Trump's commitment to staying the course is mildly surprising only because the GOP’s midterm disappointments mean many in the party have the knives out for him... But it’s no surprise Trump is trotting out the same old trash. The core of his appeal, after all, includes a refusal to admit failure."
In Salon, Amanda Marcotte said Republicans will fall in line for Trump, just like they always do.
"The elite Republican failure to fathom Trump's entirely predictable behavior is perhaps understandable," she wrote. "After all, it's a group of people who don't know themselves very well, which is why they spent a week laboring under the delusion that they're just about ready to stand up to Trump, in recognition of all the damage he's done to them or their party. But if there is one thing as inevitable as Trump's Tuesday announcement, it's that the Republican establishment will come crawling back to him, each supposed leader more eager than the last to prostrate themselves before a man who views them with utter and undisguised contempt. We know this because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
"For more than six years, Republican leaders have shown there's nothing Trump can say or do that will result in their turning on him," she wrote. "After Trump defended the neo-Nazis who rioted in Charlottesville in 2017, Republicans responded by embracing a more overt form of racism. After Trump led Republicans to heavy losses in the 2018 midterms, they doubled down by running even more overtly MAGA candidates. After Trump was impeached for trying to extort the president of Ukraine, a major U.S. ally, Republicans refused to convict him. When Trump started pressuring Republicans to risk prison to help him steal the 2020 election, they made excuses for him. When Trump sent a murderous crowd after his vice president and members of Congress on Jan. 6, Republicans shielded him from consequences."
What the right is saying.
- The right is divided on Trump, with some warning he is still a force to be reckoned with.
- Some say the media is making the same mistakes they made in 2016 by dismissing his candidacy.
- Others argue that despite some success, Trump has repeatedly failed the party, and the party must move on.
In The Federalist, Tristan Justice said Washington should be careful not to make the same mistakes they did six years ago.
"Trump might have been a wrecking ball in 2016, but there were still plenty of barriers to wreck. Another popular governor of Florida once entered the race as the front-runner. Leading the polls through the summer of 2015, former Gov. Jeb Bush, a seeming heir to the White House from a family that had already held it for three terms, entered the 2016 contest with $100 million on hand," Justice wrote. "While Trump had been written off as a 'comic book villain,' however, Bush dropped out after the South Carolina primary, and Trump carried the title of president-elect 10 months later... The lesson from 2016 is that Trump is not to be underestimated, no matter how dire his chances of claiming the presidency seem among the Washington establishment and particularly the Republican elite.
"Trump remains a dominant figure in the party, with a core of supporters who will be hard to turn away from someone they see as a crusader for the common people despite every force against him. In his announcement on Tuesday, Trump reminded voters how the country had improved under his leadership," Justice wrote. "He reminded Americans they could afford their gasoline and groceries on the same paycheck, that their southern border was in check, and that they were safe from a nuclear Armageddon, 'a concept unimaginable just two years ago.'... Trump wasn’t just written off in 2016. He and his voters were dismissed with elitist contempt, and it’s already repeating itself."
National Review's editors said simply: "No."
“A bruised Donald Trump announced a new presidential bid on Tuesday night, an invitation to double down on the outrages and failures of the last several years that Republicans should reject without hesitation or doubt,” the editors wrote. “To his credit, Trump killed off the Clinton dynasty in 2016, nominated and got confirmed three constitutionalist justices, reformed taxes, pushed deregulation, got control of the border, significantly degraded ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and cinched normalization deals between Israel and the Gulf states, among other things. These are achievements that even his conservative doubters and critics — including NR — can acknowledge and applaud. That said, the Trump administration was chaotic even on its best days because of his erratic nature and lack of seriousness.
“He often acted as if he were a commentator on his own presidency, and issued orders on Twitter and in other off-the-cuff statements that were ignored. He repeatedly had to be talked out of disastrous ideas by his advisers and Republican elected officials,” they said. “He turned on cabinet officials and aides on a dime. Trump had a limited understanding of our constitutional system, and at the end of the day, little respect for it. His inability to approximate the conduct that the public expects of a president undermined him from beginning to end. The latter factor played an outsized role in his narrow defeat to a feeble Joe Biden in 2020 in what was a winnable race. Of course, unable to cope with the humiliation of the loss, he pursued a shameful attempt to overturn the result of the election.”
In PJ Media, Victoria Taft said Trump put Democrats on notice.
"Trump told the charged-up crowd that the race is 'not about politics, it’s about our great love for this country.' He said that under Joe Biden 'we are a failing nation, a nation in decline' and that the Left’s platform is a 'platform of ruin.' Indeed, he said, his candidacy is a move to 'make [America] great and glorious again.' Trump mentioned the troubles with China and 'the China virus'; the Kim Jong Il meeting, which halted his missile testing; deals with the G-20 partners; and the energy crisis created by Biden’s failure to exploit our own energy sources. In a softened almost chastened-sounding tone, Trump used his big moment to encourage support for Hershel Walker in his Georgia Senate runoff race and gave a big shout-out to Kevin Kiley, who won his California congressional race in Gavin Newsom’s district,” she wrote.
"With the win, Kiley became the 218th Republican elected to the House, giving control over the House of Representatives to the GOP," Taft added. "Trump’s candidacy may be a big surprise or a big bust. One thing’s for sure: Trump is challenging his detractors to bring it on. And he would know what that’s like. He’s had the entire phalanx of media and the rest of the Democrats accuse him of being everything from a Russian spy to a rapist. Trump knows the worst the Democrats can conjure up is coming straight at him. I don’t care what you think of Donald Trump, the dude’s got guts. We need guts like that in public life. I wish more had that gift... The long knives are out. Let the race begin."
Reminder: "My take" is a section where I give myself space to share my own personal opinion. It is meant to be one perspective amid many others. If you have feedback, criticism, or compliments, you can reply to this email and write in. If you're a paying subscriber, you can also leave a comment.
- Trump definitely enters the race as the favorite.
- He is far weaker now than he was in 2016 or 2020.
- A lot can happen in two years.
Well, we all knew it was coming, and it came.
Trump made no secret about his intentions, and I never really doubted he would run. In fact, in my subscribers-only "19 predictions about the future," which I published in December of 2021, number three was that "Donald Trump will run for president in 2024." Number six was that "Ron DeSantis will be the 2024 Republican nominee." (Editor's note: eight of my 19 predictions have been settled, and so far I've gotten six right and two wrong).
I've probably watched more Trump speeches than just about any living person since 2015, and last night was a familiar one. Blood, guts, glory and redemption. He framed the country as in ruin, our adversaries as unafraid, President Biden as weak and asleep at the wheel, and pointed to threats from every corner (invasions on the border, blood in the streets, nuclear bombs in the skies). Then he promised to bring back glory and love and unity, calling on all patriots to join him. It's a consistent song that he has sung. Before reading any takes from the pundits who have echoed this sentiment, I also thought it was both predictable and surprisingly low energy. He seemed buttoned up and even-keeled, not raucous and angry.
In typical Trump fashion, he was boastful. He accomplished a lot of what he promised, and he was unafraid to go down the list: Tax cuts, border security, military spending, job gains, wage growth, and low gas prices. In typical Trump fashion, he also exaggerated and lied: He claimed to oversee "decades'' of no war (he was in office for four years, and there were wars), that our strategic oil reserves were "almost empty" (they're down about 30% since he was in office, and they were higher in Obama's term than they were in his), that his border wall was finished (it never got close) and that his tax cuts were the largest in history (by different measures, they were smaller than Reagan's in 1981 and Obama's in 2012).
In re-painting the last two years as an apocalyptic failure, Trump also repeatedly framed the end of his term as a prosperous period of peace, insisting that he handed over a country and economy to President Biden that simply needed to stay the course. On the contrary, the end of Trump's term was actually tremendously turbulent with the arrival of Covid-19 and then the riots at the Capitol, and the idea that Biden inherited a smoothly running country with a thriving economy is a delusion.
It was a divided country, on the heels of an unprecedentedly turbulent transfer of power, and an economy that, while growing, was severely fractured. Unemployment had skyrocketed due to the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of people had died from or with Covid-19, inflation was showing its first signs, and the global economy was hampered by supply chain issues.
And yet, as of this writing, Trump is still the most popular politician in the party, and I think he is the unquestioned favorite heading into the primaries. Ron DeSantis may have had a good week, but Trump has had six years of building out a base — some 30% to 40% of the Republican party — that is going to support him no matter what. He has a full war chest, the media's attention, and the acquiescence of major party players. He is the top dog until someone takes it from him, and I don't see that happening quite yet.
As I've said before, from talking to thousands of voters and reading hundreds of polls over the last few years, I think the number one reason Trump lost in 2020 was that people were exhausted. They were tired of him, of the bad news, of Covid-19, of all the noise and stress and upheaval. Even his most ardent supporters told me they had become exhausted defending his comments and tweets, or tired of having to defend themselves for supporting something he had done (if you are reading this and voted for Trump in 2016 and 2020, I'd love to hear what you're thinking about 2024 — reply to this email and let me know).
He is also significantly weaker than he was in 2016. When Trump came into office, Republicans had 54 Senate seats, 247 House seats and 33 governorships. They lost the House in 2018, then lost the Senate in 2020 (in part thanks to Trump's antics around the election and failing to rally voters for the Georgia runoffs). This year, they blew a chance for huge gains in governorships, the Senate, and the House, and Trump's handpicked candidates and personal unpopularity definitely played a role. They will now have 49 or 50 Senate seats (a guaranteed Senate minority) along with about 220 House seats (a razor-thin majority) with just 25 governorships and huge losses at the state level.
If Republicans can't win governorships and Senate seats in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin during the midterms, with an unpopular president in office and inflation roaring, I have a hard time seeing Trump carrying those states in 2024. In 2016, the party almost exclusively lined up behind him. We're two years out from 2024, but former Trump voters, donors and supporters are already insisting they won't back him again.
We should remember 2016, and not underestimate Trump's appeal. But we would also do well not to pretend 2016 and 2024 are the same. This time, millions of Americans have already gotten to experience a Trump presidency, and many of them didn't like it.
Of course, this is just to describe things as they stand now. Remember how much the political narrative has changed just in the last week?
A lot can happen in two years.
I'm very curious where voters stand right now after the 2022 midterms — and especially where Tangle readers stand. So, I've created a fun little survey to find out (and maybe we can track this for the next couple of years).
We're skipping today's reader question. If you want to have a question answered in the newsletter, you can reply to this email and write in (it goes straight to my inbox) or fill out this form.
Under the radar.
A federal judge has blocked the Biden administration from expelling migrants at the border without having their asylum claims heard. The administration has been trying to employ Title 42, a Trump-era policy instituted during Covid-19, to quickly deport migrants who arrive at the border claiming asylum. Biden said he would end the policy earlier this year, but a judge in a separate case blocked its termination. Now, a separate lawsuit — filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) — makes the case that Title 42 violated the law and Biden should not be able to use it. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed. Axios has the story.
- 65%. Among all voters surveyed by Morning Consult, the percentage that said Trump should probably or definitely not run.
- 66%. Among all voters surveyed by Morning Consult, the percentage that said President Biden should probably or definitely not run in 2024.
- 26%. The percentage of Republicans who said they would back Ron DeSantis in a Republican primary before the 2022 midterms.
- 33%. The percentage of Republicans who said they would back Ron DeSantis after the 2022 midterms.
- ~$100 million. The amount of money Donald Trump has on hand for his campaign, according to recent filings.
Have a nice day.
This morning, NASA's Artemis 1 successfully launched on the agency's fourth attempt to send the most powerful rocket it has ever created around the moon. The uncrewed spacecraft is headed on a 25-day 1.3 million mile journey. The mission is the first to use the new Space Launch System rocket that NASA believes will help it push farther into space. “What an incredible sight to see NASA’s Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft launch together for the first time. This uncrewed flight test will push Orion to the limits in the rigors of deep space, helping us prepare for human exploration on the Moon and, ultimately, Mars,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. NASA has the details.
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