Trump, Biden, and ‘guilt by association”
Assuming the Donald runs again in 2024, the nation will be treated to another Joe Biden vs. Donald Trump contest.
But, if you don’t want to wait two years for that, pull up a chair, because Michigan may play host to a battle between those two guys next year.
The race for governor here between Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Republica winner of the contentious GOP primary will feature a huge debate involving the former and current president.
Michigan Democrats know that Mr. Trump is loathed by millions of Michigan voters, and the D’s would like nothing more than to run the governor’s contest by focusing on all the “bad things” Mr. Trump said about the governor. If not that, the D’s will spend a lot of time and wads of moola trying to defend what the governor did during her first four years.
It’s a time-proven political strategy: Look over there at him, and not over here at her.
By the same token, the Republicans are well aware that Mr. Biden and Ms. Whitmer are quite close, and, truth be known, he wanted her to be his running mate before he was told by African American women that he better not go there. As a result, Kamala Harris got the job, and Ms. Whitmer was left to ponder, “What if?”
Anyhow, the R’s figure that, if Mr. Biden is as unpopular next year as he is today, linking him and her is a perfect “guilt by association” strategy.
The national polling numbers suggest the president is in trouble with the electorate, proving that the honeymoon did not last long.
Mr. Biden’s job approval numbers are underwater, meaning they are well below 50% when it comes to his foreign affairs chops (think Afghanistan), to his handling of the economy, and his handling of immigration, with that mess on the border. The only issue he does somewhat well on is his COVID-19 response, but, even on that, the nation is divided, as 48% believe he has done a good job, and 50% disagree.
The GOP ads could show the prez and the guv yukking it up while the announcer intones, “If you think Joe Biden is doing a lousy job, just think what Michigan will be like with four more years of his best friend, Gretchen Whitmer, in the governor’s seat.”
On the other hand, with suburban women providing the margin of victory for Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump, the Democratic commercials could sound something like this, starting with a sound bite where Mr. Trump calls Ms. Whitmer “that woman from Michigan,” and the announcer will then hit it out of the park with, “While Gov. Whitmer was battling to provide PPE for frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, Donald Trump was berating her and showing no respect to her and other women across the nation”
Then the video will shift to a shot of Mr. Trump with the GOP nominee for governor with this: “The GOP candidate for governor stands with Mr. Trump, and, if you’re a woman, that is bad news for you.”
The Republicans know this is coming, which is why they are trying to figure out how to handle the Trump factor.
Every GOP candidate wants the Trump endorsement, which would be magical in a GOP primary, and would likely provide the margin of victory, given that Michigan still has a boatload of Trumpers who listen to what the boss says.
But in the general election, where anti-Trumpers get to vote, too, linking your candidacy to the former president could cost the GOP nominee the race, which is why the D’s want to make Trump the issue and apply a little “guilt by association” elixir of their own.
To be sure, the Republicans will not rely solely on Mrs.Whitmer’s connection to Mr. Biden to unseat her, as she now has a record, and the R’s believe there is a treasure trove of goodies that they can exploit there, too.
But Ms. Whitmer, with fingers and toes crossed, is hoping the avalanche of Biden-backed federal rescue dollars pouring into the state’s economy on the eve of the election will trump the Republican attack ads.
Either way, even though their names are not on the ballot, Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are major players in determining your next governor.