A featured story from today’s Daily Beast brings us some of the most welcome news in weeks. Elizabeth Warren, the preferred candidate of the Trumpers just six months ago, now sends their wallets into a shiver, none of their attacks seem to stick to Warren. It bewilders Trumpers that a woman smart enough to be a Harvard professor, prepared enough to have a plan for everything, and earnest enough to care about the poor and middle class, could possibly be increasingly popular and immune to Trump’s childish attacks.
Within Trumpworld and the president’s re-election effort, there has been a dramatic shift in how Warren is talked about now, versus how she was discussed as a potential nominee a year ago. Shortly after the release of the DNA test results last year, Trump—along with numerous administration officials, campaign aides, and outside allies—would routinely mock the senator, and privately insist that defeating her in a 2020 matchup would be a cakewalk. Warren was at one point regarded as the preferred candidate for Trump to face off against in the general election.
It is probably worth noting two things. First, Trump and his merry band of sycophants ought to fear a potted plant at this point, a plant won’t lie and make deals with Russia against NATO allies. Second, it is always a bad idea to underestimate a woman who has risen from simple Harvard law professor to powerful Senator-Presidential candidate in less than ten years. Quite obviously, Warren is not someone to take lightly about anything.
A year later, they’re not laughing her off. In recent months, senior Trump campaign officials have increasingly discussed Warren as a growing threat, in large part because of the enthusiasm they believe she can inspire on the progressive left, and her improving poll numbers in the primary, two knowledgeable sources say. The president of the United States appears to be taking her candidacy more seriously, as well.
According to three people who have spoken to Trump about Warren over the past two months, the president has specifically highlighted what he views as her surprising political and populist talents during the Democratic primary, and has told multiple advisers and associates that he hears she could be “tougher” in a general election than many initially expected. One of these sources said Trump asked the room if they thought Warren was a “fighter.”
On the one hand, it shows somewhat surprising self-awareness that Trump noticed Warren’s rise and the threat she poses, on the other hand, it is quite typical Trump to ask others whether or not Warren is a “fighter.”
Perhaps Trump could ask Mitch McConnell whether Elizabeth Warren can “persist” through a tussle. Trump knows that Warren “persisted” through the “Pocahontas” thing, and is stronger than ever.
Ultimately, though, the Trump campaign and its Republican supporters’ mistake is in thinking that this campaign will be like most others. They still think that the challenger’s political beliefs count for much:
“She will have an energized base. Biden would not,” said Barry Bennett, a former senior adviser to the 2016 Trump campaign. “But her base is her eventual undoing. To accumulate that base, she had to take hard-left positions that are wildly unpopular with swing voters.”
I am not some high-priced political hack – though I am increasingly convinced that I should be – but I might note that the “far left” or “radical” base will only matter in the primary campaign. Once the general campaign starts, the overarching political position will be: “I am not Donald Trump.” Meanwhile, the Republicans are forced to run the guy who proudly proclaims himself to be “Trump, the man who brought you an unbuilt wall paid for by Americans, sharpie man, Moscow’s man, grifter and all around creepy guy who thinks his daughter is hot.”
It would be tough to fit that Trump slam on a bumper sticker. Perhaps I can’t – yet – be a high priced political hack. The point remains. It warms the heart to hear that the Trump campaign is worried, and it satisfies the head that they remain oblivious to the real problem.
jmiciak@yahoo, and Follow me on Twitter: @MiciakZoom