Whether Trump runs in 2024 or not is far from decided.
Of course, everything we see says he’s running. But he was always going to give every indication that he is 99.9% committed to running. He cannot allow any doubt to squeeze the money pouring in. The “certainty” we hear out of Mar-a-Lago may reflect nothing more than we were certainly going to hear it.
It is also entirely possible that Trump will run.
An important element in “looking like a certain candidate” or “being a candidate,” especially for a guy like Trump, is to have an entire herd of big ego power players, all fighting each other, the more viciously, the better, to be his VP nominee. A guy like Trump has to get warm all over thinking about people fighting to be his junior partner.
According to an article in Politico this morning, Trump won’t be bound by any of the older, quaint, notions of ticket balancing, geographic coverage, any of it. There will be two strict qualifications, one obvious and one telling. His “future running mate” must be loyal beyond even the definition – that’s a given. Second, his potential VP candidate must be unwavering in his or her assertion that Trump won in 2020.
According to the article, there are three primary lanes from which a candidate will come: 1) Race, Trump might pick someone like Tim Scott to eat into Democrats advantage with Black Americans, 2) Gender, Trump could pick a woman like Marsha Blackburn, to ease his issues with “suburban housewives” (as Trump once referenced suburban women) and 3) the “consigliere,” the insider who is both an enforcer and counselor, perhaps Pompeo or Meadows.
But without regard to the “type” of person Trump seeks, it is impossible to not “unsee” the second requirement, the conviction that 2020 was stolen. One might normally see such a requirement as somewhat subsumed into “loyalty,” the number one “must.” (Really, loyalty is all Trump cares about when it comes to working with anyone on anything, everything else is simply what that person can give him that others cannot). That “the Big Lie” is set out as its own qualification signifies both just how much it sits in Trump’s mind and that if Trump runs again, a major theme, perhaps the only theme, will be righting the big wrong, the steal, fixing 2020 “as if it never happened.” Certainly, that would be Trump’s primary goal, healing the wound.
Ironically, 2020 is both the biggest reason Trump would run (to erase it) and the biggest reason he might not (fear of repeating it). The fixation could also be the thing that brings him down, either in a primary fight with Chris Christie or a general election.
Sure, there are likely 38% of Americans who will vote for Trump solely to “punish the libs” for “stealing” 2020. But most Americans, perhaps 66%, will want to hear something beyond “I will be president again!” or “I will make us great again again!” He can’t stand there and yell about the Wall or even the economy, without some kind of plan or platform. Even nowadays, people still want to look ahead and see a direction, a plan.
And yet one can read everything that comes out of Mar-a-Lago in both the Right-Wing press and mainstream media and not hear a thing about what Trump would want to “do” as president, which could be his undoing. Voters sense when a candidate is running for himself and his own needs and voters don’t like it.
Trump tricked voters in 2016, failed in 2020, and if he continues to pound away at the Big Lie in 2024, always talking about 2020, it will be very difficult for a voter to fool himself into thinking Trump cares about him or the country.
One thing is apparent. If a MAGA pol has aspirations to be on the 2024 ticket, he or she better be ready to relitigate 2020 whenever and however it comes up.
Jason Miciak is a political writer, features writer, author, and attorney. He is originally from Canada but grew up in the Pacific Northwest as a dual Canadian-American citizen, which he grows increasingly thankful for every day. He now enjoys life as a single dad, writing from the beaches of the Gulf Coast, getting advice from his beloved daughter and teammate. He is very much the dreamy mystic that cannot add and loves dogs more than most people. He also likes studying cooking, theoretical physics, cosmology, and quantum mechanics. He likes pizza.
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