Jim Hartman: Trump vs. Biden: Is that all there is?

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman

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“Is that all there is?”

Peggy Lee’s signature baleful 1969 ballad of disillusionment comes to mind as voters contemplate a Trump vs. Biden presidential rematch in 2024.

A variety of polls show voters want neither 80-year-old Joe Biden nor 76-year-old Donald Trump to run for president again 18 months from now.

According to an April NBC News poll, 70 percent of Americans believe Biden should not run for re-election, including a majority of Democrats (51 percent).

Meanwhile, 60 percent of Americans including a third of Republicans (35 percent) say Trump should not run for president.

On April 25, Biden announced his re-election in a video with his Gallup Poll approval at 37 percent, the lowest of his presidency.

The video was unusual.

It didn’t begin by touting Biden’s record in office or with gauzy scenes of a second-term hopeful future.

The focus was all about Donald Trump: images of the Jan. 6 riot, Trump signs, and a reference to “MAGA extremists.”

The video telegraphs what Biden and Democrats desperately want in 2024 – a rematch with Donald Trump. He doesn’t want to run on his own record.

Biden won in 2020 by campaigning as the anti-Trump. He calculates he can do it again by flying under the false cover of being “Scranton Joe” and putting Trump front and center. That also worked to minimize Democratic losses in 2022.

The party is doing it again as Democratic prosecutors keep Trump at center stage with real and potential criminal indictments that will stretch from now to Election Day.

Several recent polls show Biden winning a Trump rematch in 2024. Biden beats Trump by 3 points (48%-45%), according to an April Wall Street Journal poll.

Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to formally launch his presidential campaign in May or June. That same WSJ poll found DeSantis beating Biden by 3 points (48% to 45%).

No one motivates Democrats to vote more than Trump, who also divides Republicans and has lost support among independents and suburban voters since his 2016 victory. Since that lone triumph , he has been an election loser for Republicans.

That’s why Biden is aching for Republican voters to take the Democrats’ bait and nominate the opponent he most wants.

But the GOP still seems stuck in the past, willing to give Trump a third shot. The reasoning defies reality.

A majority of general election voters express disdain for Trump. Yet, Trump continues to be the Republican Party favorite to be the 2024 nominee. It’s as if no lessons have been learned.

While it’s way early in the 2024 political process, the current RCP average of polls among Republicans has Trump expanding his lead over a badly slipping DeSantis, 51% to 23%, with half a dozen other GOP aspirants in low single digits.

Biden asks the country to elect an 80-year-old man to a second term that would end when he’s 86. It’s a risky and selfish act.

It’s impossible to know Biden’s real physical and mental state because the White House tries to hide it. But his decline is clear. He rarely holds press conferences, his words are scripted to avoid embarrassing stumbles that he nonetheless continues to make.

Biden’s “back up” is Kamala Harris, a demonstrably bad candidate who has shown little capacity to be vice president.

Then there’s Biden’s record: unprecedented federal spending that contributed to the worst inflation in 40 years, declining real incomes, worsening culture wars, growing disorder and declining U.S. influence in the world.

GOP voters might yet decide they don’t want to repeat 2020 and nominate a younger candidate to stress generational change against Biden. A younger Democrat would have a comparable edge over Trump.

The United States needs a much better presidential choice in 2024 than a redo of Biden vs. Trump.

E-mail Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.


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