- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2019

President Trump upstaged the Democratic Party by declaring his intent to run for reelection in an unprecedented jumbo campaign rally. Mr. Trump staged this event just eight days before 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls are due to take to a Miami stage for their debut debate before a national audience. Every one of them is hoping for a big chance to stand out, be quoted and resonate with voters.

It’s a complicated business.

“These initial debates are in no way helpful in determining who should be president. They are, however, going to help demonstrate who should not be president,” says Jeffrey Engel, founding director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“We need to remember that, historically, these early debates have more the feel of an NCAA elimination bracket than a sustained competition. Between now and December, candidates will knock each other off, one by one, until the real fight begins when it’s down to the final four,” Mr. Engel predicts.

The debates, however, are full of perilous politics.



“Candidates will be tempted to make increasingly radical and dramatic statements and proposals in order to differentiate themselves from the pack. The reality is that they differ very little on the issues; they’re all pro-choice, all support stricter gun control, all want to expand government-funded healthcare, all oppose the border wall, etcetera,” says Matthew Wilson, associate professor of political science at the Texas campus.

“The only way to stand out is to embrace more radical proposals at the fringe of electoral acceptability (or beyond): public funding for late-term abortion, reparations for slavery, essentially open borders, the ‘Green New Deal.’ The problem is that the same stances that help you stand out among Democratic activists can come back to haunt you in the general election,” Mr. Wilson advises.

Indeed. Stay tuned.

GETTING NERVOUS

The Democratic National Committee’s “war room” has issued a call to arms to loyal followers following revelations that President Trump raised an astonishing $24.8 million in the 24 hours following his announcement he would run for the White House once again.

“He has raised more money for his re-election than any other president in modern history at this point in the cycle. It’s all hands on deck to defeat him and his fundraising machine in 2020,” the party said in a mass email, calling it a “critical moment,” the DNC advises.

GETTING REPETITIVE

Some critics already have accused President Trump of repeating his campaign rhetoric as the 2020 race picks up speed. One analyst now points the finger at the press.

Liberal pundits, says Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway, haven’t changed their act either. She cites familiar rants from MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and others who cite the same polls and claim Mr. Trump could never win reelection.

“This is exactly what we heard in 2016, and it is somewhat disappointing that the media haven’t even updated their spin on things. At worst what you have is a corporate political media that is pushing an agenda rather than just reporting the news. At best, they’re just bad at their jobs, which means they don’t understand how the president of the United States speaks. They don’t understand the appeal of his rhetoric,” Ms. Hemingway says, adding that they’re “partisans pushing a political agenda, rather than journalists.”

MEDIA BIAS OF A DIFFERENT SORT

In an unusual turn of events, Fox, CNN and even C-SPAN have been barred from live coverage of the South Carolina 2020 Democratic convention on Saturday. The event is significant, because 21 presidential candidates are expected to speak. This is the first time C-SPAN has been barred from anything, and CNN has filed a formal complaint, according to The Washington Examiner.

So who is the lucky network here when the time comes?

“MSNBC has exclusive rights to broadcast the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Convention,” the South Carolina Democratic Party said in an email to the Examiner and other news organizations.

Barring Fox News from the convention, however, is not a promising choice. In terms of audience, Fox News has dominated CNN and MSNBC for the last 17 years, according to Nielsen Media Research. Last week, for example, Fox News drew 2.3 million prime-time viewers, compared to 1.5 million for MSNBC and 744,000 for CNN.

While news of the South Carolina party’s decision more or less came and went, there likely would be considerable hubbub in the press if, for example, Fox News alone was granted exclusive access to a noteworthy campaign event.

GAME OF POLICY THRONES

An event of note in the nation’s capital on Thursday: The Competitive Enterprise Institute will mark its 35th anniversary with a sumptuous dinner and celebration, complete with a timely “Game of Thrones” theme.

“When you play the game of public policy, you win or freedom dies,” the organizers advise.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dave Barry is the speaker of note for the event, which features master of ceremonies Katherine Mangu-Ward, editor in chief of Reason, and documentary filmmaker Johan Norberg, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute who has won the organization’s Julian L. Simon Award, which recognizes an individual whose work promotes the vision of man as the “ultimate resource.”

Meanwhile, there are two themed libations for the evening: the Red Wedding Cocktail — cranberry juice, ginger ale and a splash of lime juice — and the Wildfire Cocktail. That mixes tequila, melon liqueur and lime juice.

“Guests will have the option of having their cocktails poured through an ice luge into a glass,” a source says, adding that a large “Game of Thrones” map table is also part of the big doings, as is a costumed after-party.

POLL DU JOUR

35% of U.S. voters say passing legislation with more restrictions on gun ownership should be a “top priority” for Congress; 14% of Republicans, 30% of independents and 58% of Democrats agree.

23% say this legislation “should not be done”; 43% of Republicans, 24% of independents and 5% of Democrats agree.

20% say it’s important but a “lower priority”; 20% of Republicans, 18% of independents and 23% of Democrats agree.

11% say the legislation is “not too important”; 16% of Republicans, 13% of independents and 6% of Democrats agree.

10% don’t know or have no opinion; 8% of Republicans, 15% of independents and 7% of Democrats agree.

Source: A Politico/Morning Consult poll of 1,992 registered U.S. voters conducted June 14-16.

• Kindly follow Jennifer Harper on Twitter @HarperBulletin

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