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the presidency

Is Trump Thinking About Quitting?

Is President Trump toying with the idea of quitting the race? Given his penchant for playing to crowds, might he choose the Republican convention in August as the moment to stun the devoted with an announcement that he is withdrawing, leaving Mike Pence as the default candidate or throwing the convention into chaos as others grapple for the nomination?

This conjecture made a bit of news at 6:00 AM one morning this past week when Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe", began wondering whether the president is trying to lose. His surmise was triggered by Trump's Justice Department filing a brief with the Supreme Court asking it to strike down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in its entirety.

In the midst of the first pandemic in a century, with cases on the rise in 26 states, many setting daily records, and on the same day that nearly half a million people (486,954) enrolled in Obamacare presumably for having lost health insurance during the coronavirus shutdown, Trump would take away health insurance for some 20 million people and their families.

With his opponent, Joe Biden, calling this action "most cruelly of all", how could such an action against the people, so many of whom probably being members of his own voting base, make any sense politically, much less morally, for someone seeking re-election to any office? He has handed Biden more than a bumper sticker; rather, a campaign video where Biden will say — he already has — – that "[T]hose who have complications from Covid-19 could become the new pre-existing condition." Gone would be the immensely popular guarantee that coverage cannot be denied based on pre-existing conditions. Stripped away would be the probation against insurers cancelling coverage at their whim.

glum

A photographer had captured Trump returning from his rally in Oklahoma walking in the dark across the White House lawn, tie loose, posture drooping. Too much was made of it by the media, of course, much as they had of his hesitant walking down a ramp at West Point. It was late at night after a plane ride across half the country. Couldn't he have simply been tired?

Except, after his believing that over one million had applied for tickets (a spoofing campaign had greatly inflated the count) and fantasizing about filling the 19,200-seat venue — and why not the 40,000 seat convention center next door as well? — only 6,200 had shown up. He had to be thinking that some of the magic was gone.

enemy of the people

Trumps every action has been running counter to public sentiment. Protests following the George Floyd killing were supported by 75% of Americans in polls, but Trump argued for tuning the U.S. military against its own citizens. He tweeted "LAW AND ORDER" when the public made clear it was time for police reform. He was enraged to the point of suing to prevent our reading former security adviser John Bolton's book, detained by four months of repetitive scrubbing. He campaigns against mail-in ballots that voters want rather than be forced to go to the polls and risk their health in hours-long lines due to the fewer polling stations.

This and far more left Scarborough wondering: “Does this guy want to be re-elected president of the United States? Does he really want to be there?” He continued that the president is not only “acting like he doesn’t want to get re-elected, he’s acting like he really wants to lose badly and take the Republican Party down with him.”

A telling moment worth quoting in full was his answer to Sean Hannity when asked what will be Trump's second term agenda:

Hannity: "Let's talk about a second term. If you hear in a hundred and thirty-one days from now...'We can now project that Donald J. Trump has been re-elected the 45th President of the United States', …what are your top priority items for a second term?

Trump: Well, one of the things that will be really great. You know the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I've always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It's an important meaning. I never did this before. I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington I think 17 times. All of a sudden I'm President of the United States. You know the story: I'm riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with the First Lady and I say 'This is great', but I didn't know very many people in Washington. Wasn't my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes like, you know, an idiot like Bolton. All he wanted to do was drop bombs on everybody. You don't have to drop bombs on everybody. You don't have to kill people."

For Scarborough, it seems to be something more than a hunch.

"Somebody…in his inner circle, ... he's told me for three years that Donald Trump fears losing a lot more than he cares about winning, and this person has said for some time that if it became obvious to him that he was going to lose he would do an LBJ and get out of the race."

That Biden was leading by double digits in some polls and running ahead even in some battleground states without even campaigning has to be discouraging for the president.

Mika Brzezinski stepped in:

"He doesn't want four more years. That's clear. You can tell by his behavior. His attitude toward the health of the American people. He doesn't want to be there. But what's the potential, because he also doesn't like losing".

Donny Deutsch, a branding and marketing expert who is a frequent guest, thinks Trump can't turn it around.

"It's August, he's way behind… Trump drops the mic and says I'm not doing this anymore. I don't think that's going to happen, but you start to look at all these breadcrumbs he's leaving behind".

They missed what may be Mr. Trump's biggest reason for quitting — panic over what is happening to his net worth. Before the pandemic he more than once lamented how many "billions" being president has supposedly cost him, although the motive was to shine a light on himself for his noble sacrifice. His company, the Trump Organization, has been badly damaged by the economy's plunge: 2,800 employees have been fired or furloughed and services at his hotels have been cut back. Cutting out newspapers, flowers, and chocolates for guests isn't going to make much of a dent in the alleged $300 million he owes to DeutscheBank.

But each time he thinks of quitting, if at all, the specter that appears before him must be the multiple investigations by the attorneys of the Southern District of New York that await him, chief among them, it is believed, whether he engaged in money laundering for Russian oligarchs. That would go a long away to explain the deference he has unfailingly shown to Vladimir Putin since he came down the Trump Tower escalator five years ago June.

Scarborough pulled back a bit, concluding with…

"Let me just say this…There's nobody on the planet that I've heard that is suggesting anything other than Donald Trump is running for re-election and he's going to be there until the very end. I'm just saying this is not a guy who is acting like he expects to be around on January 21st, 2021, in the White House and he is acting like he's setting everything on fire before he leaves. And I'm only saying this, nobody else is saying this, but I could see as a possibility…that this guy in August says what Peggy Noonan wrote a couple of weeks ago 'Listen, I gave you the best economy ever, and the press has been lying about me for years, they've been investigating me for years, and despite that I did a great job, you guys do not deserve me. I'm going to do what LBJ did', and he can walk away without a loss. He wants to [instead be remembered] that he scored one of the greatest political upsets of all time, he and Harry Truman in '48.

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1 Comment for “Is Trump Thinking About Quitting?”

  1. Kenneth E. MacWilliams

    I don’t think this possibility is THAT far-fetched. I’ve been putting forth this possibility for a year or more. But then again, maybe I myself am far-fetched for having been doing so. In any case, let me suggest another very, very long shot, a REAL dark horse possibility. Trump steps aside but not for Pence but rather for Pompeo. One way or another though, we’ll be looking at Pompeo at some point in the future.
    Ken MacWilliams
    Portland, Maine

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