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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?

It is Trump's conduct of late that has caused several commentators to speculate about that possibility. His every action goes against the people at large, the latest being his commutation of Roger Stone, throwing aside the laws of the nation to free his crony. Before that he had his Justice Department file a brief with the Supreme Court asking it to strike down the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in its entirety. How, in the midst of the first pandemic in a century, with cases on the rise in dozens of states, many setting new day-count records, doing so as ever more people enroll in Obamacare presumably for having lost health insurance during the coronavirus shutdown — how could Trump think of taking away health insurance for some 20 million people and their families?

With opponent Joe Biden saying that Trump was doing this "most cruelly of all", how could an act that would likely harm so many of his own voting base make any sense politically, much less morally, for someone seeking re-election to any office? Wasn't that a clear signal that he's had enough and doesn't care about losing votes?

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. After 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? — when only 6,200 showed up, he had to be thinking that some of the magic was gone. His following raved in support of his 4th of July speeches, but a week later he had to cancel a rally in New Hampshire claiming poor weather but worries about poor attendance was more likely (the rally was to be inside a hanger).

enemy of the people

Protests following the George Floyd killing were supported by 75% of Americans in polls, but Trump argued for turning the U.S. military against its own citizens. He has been tweeting "LAW AND ORDER" repeatedly, 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 White House 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 fewer polling stations.

This set Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe", to wondering a few weeks ago whether the president is trying to lose. “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 Mr. Trump's answer to Sean Hannity when asked what will be his 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."

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"

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. What may be Trump's biggest reason for quitting is 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 for saying it was to shine a light on 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 that such low-level economizing steps were taken says much about bigger difficulties the company is experiencing.

But each time he thinks of quitting, if thinking of it 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.

Nevertheless, to paraphrase Peggy Noonan, Reagan's speechwriter and columnist at The Wall Street Journal, who wrote a few weeks ago, Trump must be thinking,

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.'

He would walk away without a loss. As Scarborough said, instead of losing he wants to be remembered for winning, for, along with Harry Truman in 1948, scoring one of the greatest political upsets of all time.

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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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