Joe Biden, a son of Scranton, Pa., appeals to the same working-class white voters who flocked to Mr. Trump in 2016. Some progressives no doubt look upon him fondly from his days as Barack Obama’s vice president. But Mr. Biden’s three-decades-long centrist Senate record, from his handling of Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing in 1991 to his vote for the 2005 bankruptcy bill, might make him a tough sell to today’s Democratic primary voters, not to mention the fact that he still has those centrist tendencies (he recently came out against a universal basic income). And he’ll turn 78 in November 2020.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump accused the press of intentionally misinterpreting his words and of being biased, although he benefited from a record amount of free media coverage, elevating his standing in the Republican primaries. After winning the election, Trump told journalist Lesley Stahl that he intentionally demeaned and discredited the media "so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you". Into his presidency, much of the press coverage of Trump and his administration was negative.
Trump’s own data guys have a slightly different interpretation. “The best way to win in 2020 is to win in 2018,” said Bill Stepien, with a straight face. It was a swampy Washington Friday in mid-June, and I was sitting with Stepien, the White House political director, in his office turned war room on the first floor of the Executive Office Building. Virtually every inch of wall space was covered with maps of states with races that Republicans have targeted to win to keep control of the Senate.
Pence’s political brain is a 36-year-old operative named Nick Ayers. During his meteoric rise to the top echelon of Republican strategists, Ayers developed a reputation as something of a Georgia-born Sammy Glick that left him with powerful enemies, including his colleagues in the West Wing. “Everybody knows Nick is not loyal to the president,” an administration official told me. “Trump thinks Nick is a backstabber. He does not trust him at all.” In August 2017, the Times reported that Ayers and Pence adviser Marty Obst were privately courting G.O.P. donors for a possible Pence run in 2020. Trump became furious this past April when he learned that Ayers had persuaded Pence to recruit a pollster named Jon Lerner to join the V.P.’s staff. According to a source briefed on the conversations, Kellyanne Conway told Trump that Lerner was a Never Trumper who’d once worked for Paul Singer, the G.O.P. mega-donor who funded the conservative politics website Free Beacon, which commissioned the oppo research firm that later produced the infamous Christopher Steele dossier. “Why would Mike do that?” Trump reportedly asked advisers. Lerner backed out of the job.
In 2016, The Washington Post reported that the charity had committed several potential legal and ethical violations, including alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion. Also in 2016, the New York State Attorney General's office notified the Trump Foundation that the foundation appeared to be in violation of New York laws regarding charities, ordering it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York. A Trump spokesman called the Attorney General's investigation a "partisan hit job". In response to mounting complaints, Trump's team announced in late December 2016 that the Trump Foundation would be dissolved to remove "even the appearance of any conflict with [his] role as President." According to an IRS filing in November 2017, the foundation intended to shut down and distribute its assets (about $970,000) to other charities. However, the New York Attorney General's office had to complete their ongoing investigation before the foundation could legally shut down, and in June 2018 they filed a civil suit against the foundation for $2.8 million in restitution and additional penalties. The suit names Trump himself as well as his adult children Donald Jr., Eric, and Ivanka.
The concept of a permanent campaign also describes the focus which recent presidents have given to electoral concerns during their tenures in office, with the distinction between the time they have spent governing and the time they have spent campaigning having become blurred. Political observers consider the rise in presidential fundraising as a symptom of the permanent campaign.