Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Trump Versus Biden

Possible general election match-up on display in Iowa Tuesday.

My take: Even though the president and the Democratic frontrunner are not expected to share any media market time in the Hawkeye State, their simultaneous presence in one of America’s premiere political spots puts pressure on both men to perform.  It is otherwise shaping up to be a slow news day, so this is the de facto main event.

Prediction: the national media will do more tire kicking of the pair than almost any real-life Iowan will.

This New York Times must-read story of the day is filled with the now-common tittle tattle from Trump aides, describing the president’s alleged simultaneous obsession with Biden, polling, and the minutiae of his own campaign AND an absurd lack of interest in important aspects of his re-election and of his presidency.

Make no mistake, right now, Trump and his campaign’s polling data see Biden as the biggest threat to creating the first defeat of an incumbent United States president in almost thirty years.

One sign of that reality, the AP curtain raises the trips by reporting that “Since March, Trump has mocked or criticized Biden on Twitter nearly 40 times.”

Trump “begins his trip in Council Bluffs to tour and speak at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, which produces and sells the corn-based fuel additive ethanol, before addressing an Iowa GOP dinner in Des Moines.”

Biden will start his two-day campaign swing in a section of southeast Iowa that was won by Obama-Biden but that turned Trump in 2016.  He holds a rally midday in Ottumwa.

“Outside a fundraiser in the nation’s capital on Monday night, Biden said he would ‘probably talk about [Trump]’ while in Iowa,” per ABC News

Probably.

So how are the two starting their respective Tuesdays?

Trump’s Enemies

The Internet isn’t big enough to chronicle them all, but I spy the following hot war feuds Donald Trump is currently engaged in: the Fed, Mexico, the media, the Chamber of Commerce, Nancy Pelosi, Senate Republicans, China.

My take: Forget my take. Here’s the take of a former White House aide, quoted in Politico:

“He has this insatiable need to impress people and demonstrate accomplishments and notch achievements. When he feels like he’s done something that should be recognized as a success and people are not recognizing it that way, it poses an existential threat to his sense of self — and this is what you get.”

Biden’s Negative Coverage Befitting a Frontrunner Blooms

Post pair: conservative Mike Gerson denounces Biden’s abandonment of Hyde + liberal Richard Cohen denounces Biden’s abandonment of Hyde

Politico pair: Biden isn’t giving Iowa enough love + Biden is running an uneven, centrist campaign

My take:  It follows as naturally as “SportsCenter” comes after the end of a baseball game. Now that Biden has gone for awhile as the undisputed polling frontrunner, almost all of the negative analysis pieces, columns, and news stories are about him, and they all get much bigger play than negative stories about his Democratic rivals. 

It is, in the immortal words of former Obama campaign manager (and Delewarian) David Plouffe, Biden’s turn in the barrel, where the press scrutiny is so relentless, and on one level, so truly unfair, that the frontrunner can begin to feel under siege.

We know this is how Hillary Clinton (twice), John McCain, and Mitt Romney all felt when their nomination frontrunner status earned them withering coverage.  It got inside their heads, and became a daily source of tension both between them and their campaign teams and between the campaign teams and the media.

This is new territory both for Team Biden and for Biden himself. He’s never been the frontrunner when he has run for president. He did, however, get a lot of negative coverage in both 1988 (when it drove him out of the race) and 2008 (when he literally started his campaign on a day when an earlier interview he had done was published containing remarks seen as insulting to Barack Obama). He didn’t handle either instance super well.

Trump is battle tested for war (even if he doesn’t win nearly as often as he thinks he does). Don’t be distracted by Biden versus Trump in Iowa today.  Play the longer game: how will Biden substantively and psychologically handle his own war with the media?

This is unaccustomed terrain of late for a man who as vice president had great relationships with the press and got mostly kind coverage.

But if you keep playing the dynamic out, Trump’s on-going attacks on Biden actually help the frontrunner in two ways.

One, it builds Biden up for Democrats as the candidate apparently most feared by the incumbent, which is what the party wants to nominate. 

Two, if the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the anti-Trump media could be pushed by the president back into Biden’s arms.  Today is a possible test of that dynamic, which we all might be living with for the next seventeen months.

Politico on the Pelosi-Nadler impeachment feud.

Missouri abortion clinic stays open for now.

Top sports story: Durant tears Achilles in return, Warriors still hang on to force Game 6

AP

Top business story: Trump’s Fed hectoring only complicates Powell’s rate cut decision

Wall Street Journal

Top entertainment story: YouTube CEO apologizes to LGBTQ community, defends Crowder decision

Deadline

Big Four

Iowa

Kirsten Gillibrand is ‘glad’ Joe Biden listened and does not support Hyde Amendment

Iowa Poll: More than 3 in 4 likely Democratic caucusgoers say ‘a woman’s right to abortion’ is non-negotiable.

Bullock visits Siouxland, talks reaching the voters of Middle America.

New Hampshire

Sununu vetoes rate increase for substance abuse, mental health treatment providers.

Nevada

Southern Nevada Health District reports case of West Nile virus.

Hearing resumes before judge in Nevada pot license lawsuits.

South Carolina

Bernie Sanders’ SC campaign looks different this time. Is it different enough to win? 

Paper-based voting announced in South Carolina to replace paperless system.

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