miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2018

Trump turns his attention to his own political survival

With the midterms behind him, Trump dives into a re-election campaign facing a Democratic House, political gridlock — and special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.

As president Donald Trump absorbed Tuesday night’s mixed election returns, two key allies were by his side in the White House: one of his 2016 campaign managers, Corey Lewandowski, and the man who will run his 2020 re-election bid, Brad Parscale.

The two men attended what the White House billed as a midterm watch party. But the presence of Lewandowski and Parscale underscored that it may have more accurately been described as the unofficial kickoff of Trump’s 2020 campaign. As guests snacked on hamburgers and hot dogs, the president was surrounded not just by the political aides who will orchestrate the effort but also by some of the donors expected to underwrite it, including Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, Marvel Entertainment CEO Ike Perlmutter, and fracking billionaire Harold Hamm.

Starting Wednesday, Trump — who has already spent the past several weeks firing up crowds of supporters — will turn his full attention to his own 2020 re-election campaign, which aides and associates say will be close to all-consuming over the next two years.

“The re-elect begins today,” said Brian Walsh, President of the pro-Trump America First Action super PAC: "It’s all in and all on the line.”

With divided government making further legislative accomplishments almost impossible, they predict Trump will leverage the full power and pomp of the White House behind his own political survival. And while Tuesday’s results may have been bruising, in historical terms they are far from a re-election death sentence: Both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama rebounded from even worse midterm results in their first terms to be comfortably re-elected two years later.

Trump’s 2020 effort is poised to swing into gear almost immediately, with the RNC redirecting its infrastructure to assist the Trump re-elect and its political director Chris Carr. RNC officials say that a massive midterm mobilization effort — in which the party invested over $275 million in its field, digital and data programs, and recruited hundreds of field staffers — was a dress rehearsal for the 2020 campaign. Once the Trump campaign, overseen by Parscale, melds with RNC, the result will be a nearly $400 million behemoth focused on the next election 726 days from Wednesday.

In another sign of the shift in Trump’s focus, several top White House aides are expected to depart soon for the reelection campaign. They include political director Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, who oversees the office of intergovernmental affairs.

Although Tuesday’s results were less damaging than the White House had feared — Republicans outperformed expectations in Senate races, picking up several seats — Trump’s advisers privately conceded they had to find ways to improve the president’s standing with suburban and women voters. As of Tuesday evening, Republicans had lost upwards of 27 House seats largely owing to the party’s underperformance in educated, suburban districts where the president will need to make inroads.

But GOP victories in some major states vital to Trump’s 2020 prospects boosted his team’s confidence. One of president's closest congressional allies, Ron DeSantis, will become Florida’s governor, and the GOP candidate, Mike DeWine, prevailed over Democrat Richard Cordray in the Ohio governor's race. On Tuesday night, Trump aides cited those outcomes as examples of why their path to 270 electoral votes remains intact.

Victories from pals like DeSantis helped to buoy the spirits of the president, who had been consumed by fears that he would be roundly blamed for across-the-board defeats. One even aide called the mood “buoyant" -- though it is likely to turn combative once Trump focuses on his House Democratic adversaries, who will soon be armed with subpoena power.

If Trump manufactured enemies in the run-up to the midterms, from a migrant caravan full of “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners” to Democrats who “run around like Antifa” before going “back home into mommy’s basement,” he will now face real-life foils. 
GOP victories in some major states vital to President Donald Trump’s 2020 prospects boosted his team’s confidence. |

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