Democrats pon­der who might be the can­di­date to take on Trump in 2020

Demo­cratic hope­fuls will soon de­cide about tak­ing on Trump in elec­tion

The Irish Times - - World News - Suzanne Lynch

The fu­neral of the late Ge­orge HW Bush brought a rare mo­ment of in­tro­spec­tion to Wash­ing­ton as pres­i­dents past and present gath­ered in Wash­ing­ton Na­tional Cathe­dral to hon­our the 41st pres­i­dent.

Though this week’s events were not about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, the con­trast be­tween the for­mer Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and the cur­rent oc­cu­pant of the White House was im­plicit, as each eu­lo­gist ref­er­enced Bush’s in­tegrity, char­ac­ter and sense of lead­er­ship.

The rare sight of all five sur­viv­ing US pres­i­dents to­gether – three of them Democrats – also raised the ques­tion as to who might be the can­di­date to take on Trump in 2020.

As pol­i­tics set­tles down af­ter the midterm elec­tions and with the first pri­maries less than 14 months away, Democrats are still no closer to de­cid­ing who will rep­re­sent them in one of the most con­se­quen­tial elec­tions in decades.

How­ever, as 2018 draws to an end, there are signs that some de­ci­sions are im­mi­nent.

Bloomberg’s news

This week, for­mer New York mayor Michael Bloomberg vis­ited Iowa. Al­though os­ten­si­bly the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man was there to pro­mote his new documentary on cli­mate change, the visit to the state that will be the first to hold its cau­cus is a sure sign that he is con­sid­er­ing a run. The 76-year-old who ran for New York mayor as a Repub­li­can but sub­se­quently reg­is­tered as a Demo­crat re­port­edly do­nated $250,000 to the Iowa Demo­cratic Party dur­ing the re­cent elec­tion cy­cle.

Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor Ka­mala Harris, who has long been ru­moured to be con­sid­er­ing a bid, said this week that she would make a de­ci­sion over the hol­i­days with her fam­ily.

Other pos­si­ble can­di­dates con­firmed they would not be seek­ing the nom­i­na­tion. For­mer Mas­sachusetts gover­nor De­val Pa­trick, a well-re­spected fig­ure across the Demo­cratic Party, said he would not be run­ning, cit­ing the im­pact of the elec­tion process on his fam­ily.

Michael Ave­natti, the Los An­ge­les lawyer who rep­re­sents adult film star Stormy Daniels in her le­gal bat­tle with Trump, also put an end to spec­u­la­tion.

Much to the re­lief of many in the Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment who feared a celebrity can­di­date who might out-trump Trump, he an­nounced on Twit­ter that he would not be run­ning in 2020 de­spite

‘‘ With his pho­to­genic ap­peal and Obama-like rhetor­i­cal qual­i­ties, Beto O’Rourke could be the one to watch, par­tic­u­larly given the huge amount of money he at­tracted dur­ing the Se­nate cam­paign

vis­it­ing Iowa ear­lier this year. It was not clear if the de­ci­sion was re­lated to an ar­rest on do­mes­tic as­sault charges last year which he has dis­missed as bo­gus.

But per­haps the big­gest splash this week came from for­mer vice-pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den. Dur­ing a book tour stop at the Univer­sity of Mon­tana on Mon­day, 76-year-old Bi­den said he would be the “most qual­i­fied can­di­date” to run in 2020. He also con­ceded some of his lim­i­ta­tions. “I am a gaffe ma­chine, but my God, what a won­der­ful thing com­pared to a guy who can’t tell the truth,” he said in ref­er­ence to Trump. He also ac­knowl­edged that his age could be an is­sue and said he would make a de­ci­sion within the next six weeks to two months.

Asked about his com­ments, prospec­tive can­di­date Elizabeth War­ren gave a diplo­matic an­swer: “I think the vice-pres­i­dent has many won­der­ful qual­i­ties and I’m glad to hear that he’s out and talk­ing about it,” she said through a grit­ted smile.

The Mas­sachusetts sen­a­tor is widely ex­pected to run, de­spite re­ports at un­ease among some of her aides about her de­ci­sion to take a DNA test to prove her Na­tive Amer­i­can her­itage fol­low­ing Trump’s de­scrip­tion of her as “Poc­a­hon­tas”.

Beto bounce

The other ma­jor prospec­tive can­di­date who has kept a rel­a­tively low pro­file since the midterms is Beto O’Rourke. The Se­nate hope­ful, who lost against in­cum­bent Ted Cruz in Texas in Novem­ber, in­di­cated last week that he would not rule out a pres­i­den­tial bid, de­spite say­ing the op­po­site dur­ing the Se­nate cam­paign.

Since then he has been work­ing out his fi­nal few weeks as a con­gress­man in Wash­ing­ton, where he has been rep­re­sent­ing the 16th dis­trict of Texas for six years. Sig­nif­i­cantly, he re­port­edly met Barack Obama at the for­mer pres­i­dent’s of­fice in the weeks fol­low­ing the midterm elec­tions.

With such a crowded field, Demo­cratic strate­gists in Wash­ing­ton are re­luc­tant to put their money on any one can­di­date. But with his pho­to­genic ap­peal and Obama-like rhetor­i­cal qual­i­ties, O’Rourke (46) could be the one to watch, par­tic­u­larly given the huge amount of money he at­tracted from across the coun­try dur­ing the Se­nate cam­paign.

With O’Rourke fac­ing an empty cal­en­dar af­ter he leaves Wash­ing­ton this month, it could be now or never for the con­gress­man from Texas.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.