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Biden hopes to win election by talking about Trump

Farewell “Bidenomics” – turns out, it’s the democracy, stupid.

At least that’s the hope of Joe Biden and his campaign advisors, who seem to have decided that the best way to win the next election is the same way they won the last election.

By talking about Trump.

The likely Republican candidate in November has done little else for the past two years. And it has been paying off for him.

So why not for Biden?

After all, little else seems to be working – Biden has the worst approval rating of any president in the modern era at this stage of the electoral cycle, worse than Trump, worse than Jimmy Carter.

The strength and powerful resurgence of the low-unemployment US economy is not cutting through to voters who confront the sharp end of the economy every day in the form of inflation – this is a very expensive country to live in right now.

And Biden’s winning coalition of voters from 2020 is showing signs of fraying badly on other issues: young voters are appalled at Biden’s apparently unlimited support for Israel in the Gaza war; Black voters are also starting to peel off from the Biden-Harris ticket.

Read more:
Biden says Trump willing to ‘sacrifice democracy’ to regain power
Maine becomes second state to ban Trump from ballot

These may seem like small losses in the overall scheme, but the overall scheme of the election is very tight – half a dozen states with a 2% margin will decide the Presidency. Every vote counts, especially in the swing states.

Abortion still appears to be a powerful force favouring the Democrats, who have used it to gain female votes in the suburbs. So effective has this been that Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, has speculated that Trump might have to come out as pro-choice to claw back the votes that might make the difference in the swing states. But it’s not a big enough issue to power an entire election campaign for either party.

Which leaves…. Trump.

And there is certainly plenty to talk about. On the third anniversary of the 6 January attack on the Capitol – when a mob disrupted the peaceful transfer of power – a re-invigorated Joe Biden decided that the best way to win this campaign is to go on the offensive.

The kitchen sink – and then some – was duly hurled at Trump in a pacy, punchy half hour long speech, in which the President seemed alive and alert, not stumbling over words, getting straight to the point: just like in 2020, this is a choice between US Democracy as most people know it, or Donald Trump.

Except now the list of charges to throw at the 45th President are even longer than they were at the last election. And Joe Biden says Trump is willing to “sacrifice our democracy to put himself in power”.

He was direct – “Democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot. The alternative to Democracy is Dictatorship – the rule of one, not the rule of We the People”.

Biden went straight after Trump’s supporters too – and wavering supporters – talking of an “America of possibilities, not carnage: we are not weighed down by grievances. We don’t foster fear. We don’t walk around as victims – we take charge of our destiny…. none of you believe America is failing, we know America is winning”.

He called Trump a loser – losing elections, losing recounts, losing court cases. He pointed out Trumps campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani has just lost $148 million in a defamation case taken by two election workers he had accused of perpetrating election fraud.

He pointed out that Republican supporting TV channel Fox News had paid out almost $800 million to settle a legal case over false claims about a voting machine company – “the lies they told about voter fraud”, as the President put it.

It was quite unusual for Biden to attack Trump by name so much in a speech, a sign the gloves are now off (up to now, Biden has treated Trump as a Voldemort-like figure – evoked but never named).

The vocabulary was more robust as well – dictator, insurrection, lies – the use of the word insurrection deliberately echoing the decision of Colorado and Maine to block Trump from appearing on their ballots in November under the 14th Amendment to the US constitution, which bars insurrectionists from holding Federal Office (it was brought in after the US Civil War).

He evoked George Washington’s rallying of the Continental Army in the harsh winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, toughing it out and ultimately defeating the mighty British empire to set America on the path to freedom. Always good to have a founding father to enlist in your cause. Even better when the place of reference to said founding father is in a swing state – which Pennsylvania is.

Right on cue, the US Supreme Court announced shortly after Biden delivered the speech that it was going to review Colorado’s ban on Trump appearing on the ballot. This will be a theme for the next couple of months, will Trump be allowed to take part in the election or not?

Biden did not come down on one side or the other, but by consistently linking Trump with insurrection in his Valley Forge speech, he has certainly made life more uncomfortable for the Supreme Court Justices, especially the one third of their number who were appointed by Trump.

Some legal analysts here believe the court will do everything it can to avoid having to intervene directly in the election process and will seek some way to swiftly bat this hospital pass across the road to the Congress for a decision.

Trumps challenger for the Republican nomination, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, reacted to the news on the campaign trail in New Hampshire last night: “as a lawyer, I can tell you, I think there are good legal arguments as to why he doesn’t qualify for the ballot. But I hope the court doesn’t kick him off. And the reason that I hope they don’t kick them off is because it’s our responsibility. Not nine Justices of the Supreme Court”.

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will run for the Republican presidential nomination against Trump

Just like President Biden, Chris Christie evoked a founding father to support his Republican Party opposition to Trump: “Remember what Benjamin Franklin said. Soon after the Constitution was passed in Philadelphia, a woman approached him on the street in Philadelphia, and she said, Mr Franklin, what kind of government did you give us? And Franklin said, ‘a Republic – if you can keep it’.

Well, this is the moment – a republic, if you can keep it. It’s not the job of the nine members of the Supreme Court to keep our Republic ours. It’s our republic. It’s our job. And for better or for worse for all of you. It’s your job.”

Trump responded with mockery to Biden’s speech, telling a crowd at a campaign event in Iowa “crooked Joe is staging his pathetic, fear-mongering campaign event in Pennsylvania today. Did you see him? He was stuttering through the whole thing. He’s going, ‘he’s a threat to democracy’. I’m a threat? … they’ve weaponized the government…. he’s saying I’m a threat to democracy.? He’s a threat de – de – de –mo-cracy.’Okay wow … couldn’t read the word”.

Donald Trump speaking in Iowa

So its game on. A week and a bit before the first formal event in the presidential campaign, the two main rivals are squaring off for a re-run of 2020. Biden is accepting the Trump playbook, disregarding the other candidates in the Republican primary field, to zero in on the main target. Trump is doing the same.

With an election year punctuated by court cases – some linked to 6th January, some not – Biden has decided to dump the normal campaign issues and concentrate on Trump. Because this isn’t a normal campaign. It is all about Trump.

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