“It puts into perspective what’s at stake, shows that the Republican Party is still extreme, and helps create the contrast,” said Cedric Richmond, a former White House senior adviser now to the Democratic National Committee. “Democrats need to figure out what they stand for – from their agenda to their values and contrast that with how extreme the other side is and what they want to do.”
Having Trump out of the wings as the GOP’s frontrunner and formal flag bearer will sharpen efforts “and it will help Democrats,” Richmond added.
Few stand-alone political factors can still change the midterm landscape like Trump. Inside the White House and among close allies, there is a sense that the former president would change voters’ views of Biden and Democrats and help allay disappointment and unrest within the parties, which they see as misplaced and unproductive.
Recent polls show considerable doubt among Democrats about Biden’s own political future, but administration officials are confident the president will not face a serious challenge from his own party in 2024. Just this week, a number of next-generation Democratic governors have been candid in question, and even critical of their own party, came to the White House. The visits may have been random. But they provided the president’s team with helpful photos – supporting him as party leader – and got a prominent California governor, Gavin Newsom, to say he believes Biden should seek re-election with his full support. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker made similar statements before praising Biden’s “passion” for addressing gun violence.
The president himself has been aware that he considers Trump an existential threat. In a television interview in Israel, Biden said he did not foresee a rematch, but “I would not be disappointed.”
“I think he’s running and I think he’s winning,” Richmond said of Biden. “And I’m not sure anyone else can win.”
Trump’s calculations for a mid-term announcement are multifaceted, ranging from legal pressure from the Justice Department to his declining position in the GOP and footprints from younger potential rivals with far less baggage.
In interviews, more than two dozen Democratic officials, including Biden advisers, party committees, members of Congress and the consulting class, described a Trump announcement before the midterm period as at least a positive development for the party, if not a game-changer. Republicans who have tried to control their ties to Trump will have new reasons to be asked about him. Some may have to decide if they want to attend events or conventions with him.
It would also strain the party’s desire to stay focused on economic issues, as questions would naturally arise about the very controversies that continue to surround the former president: from his denial of election, to his efforts to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory, to the intersection of his business relations and politics. Asked if they knew of a single 2022 campaign or GOP consultant who wanted Trump to declare by November, a top Republican agent replied, “Lol. None.”
Democratic campaigns are preparing fundraising pitches that focus on the danger Trump’s return represents, and use him to target suburban voters who are considering cracking down on Biden over the economy but who are tired of encouraging GOP election lies and conspiracies.
“It’s bad for them because he takes so much oxygen out of space,” said John Anzalone, a longtime Biden study. Already now the dynamics of autumn campaigns have been reshaped by the overthrow of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade and the committee’s hearings on 6 January on the uprising. “Several people think he should be charged with a crime. Some things about his actions and comments have emerged. Everything that has hurt him. In general, he wants to be front and center, and that’s not good for Republicans because the public is against him.
“Then come in,” said Anzalone. “Jump in the pool.”
Democrats stressed that their desire to see Trump declare his election is based on the belief that it is only a matter of time before he does, and that it would benefit them more if the announcement came before a likely tough midterm period. Trump told New York Magazine that he has decided whether to run and that the question is whether he will do so before the autumn elections. He is said to see a statement in the September, Washington Post reported Thursday, the latest in a series of recent stories focused on his timing and preparations.
“Everyone I talk to is desperately hoping for it – desperate. I don’t know anyone who is not hoping for it,” said a Democratic officer in frequent contact with the White House. “Although it has been good for my mental health that Trump is away from Twitter, it has also set him aside a bit. “
Not all Democrats openly want an early Trump announcement – or plan to do much with it, should it come. Some candidates in dense housing districts or races with nationwide polls claim they do not want to talk about the former president or even the MAGA movement, and instead choose to focus on the economy, affordability and other local concerns. Their feelings are repeated by some Republicans who see an early statement as a wash.
“I think if people were to try to use him in a positive or negative way in November, it would already be happening based on his support in the primary,” said Josh Novotney, a Republican lobbyist and former adviser to Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania. And Trump himself, Novotney added, “is not on the ballot.”
Yet Democrats do not even have to rely on Trump to take advantage of him politically. And the idea that GOP candidates will be able to evade Trump’s long shadow strikes others as wishful thinking. Late. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, characterized the impact on Republican candidates up and down the midterm elections as “seismic” – whether they try to distance themselves from Trump or not.
“Every candidate who now stands as a Republican in 2022 must decide whether or not to embrace the MAGA movement and all the lies, deception and efforts to overthrow the election. That will make it harder for Republicans,” Casey said.
Yet Trump’s formal filing of papers cannot be seen by Democrats as a saving grace. Casey said he believes his party should lean harder in trying to curb high prices.
“We need to hold Republicans accountable for stopping our efforts to help families in an inflationary economy,” he said. “Again and again they had a chance to do something to help families get through this difficult time of prices and inflation. They have done nothing.”
In fact, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, there has been an early effort not to lean solely on Trump and the ghost of his resurrection. An adviser to Lieutenant John Fetterman, who faces Republican television doctor Mehmet Oz, claimed that “Trump is not the scariest part. Everything that comes after Trump is even more frightening.”
“We are very focused on our own race and on explaining to people what we need to do for them,” said Rebecca Katz, the Fetterman consultant. “It’s not enough just to be against something. You have to give people something to vote for. ”
In other races – such as the Nevada race between Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and GOP challenger Adam Laxalt – Republican candidates are so closely linked to Trump that it may not matter whether he announces before the midterm period.
Instead, Democrats expect that Trump’s presence will be felt more acutely in Parliament, where candidates are typically less well known.
“He’s a real anchor around the ankles of Republicans with the exact type of suburban, independent voters, especially women, that they are trying to win back,” said Jesse Ferguson, a veteran Democratic strategist.
He argued that not all Republicans will be able to implement the high thread that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin did last year when both Trump and abortion were used against him – and Trump was not so present. “The more Trump is at the forefront and at the center, the harder it is for the GOP to copy what they did in Virginia in 2021.”