These three factions all face one existential issue: What if Trump doesn’t run for re-election, either because he’s impeached, decides he’s had enough, or is so damaged by what Mueller unearths as to be rendered unelectable? Much of the Republican establishment, and even many Trump allies, have been contemplating a Plan B for months. “He could just decide, ‘I’ve made America great again. I’ve kept all my promises. Now I’m gonna play golf,’” said Roger Stone.
The second-oldest U.S. president is not expected to release the results of a full physical examination as his recent predecessors have, just as he won't release his tax returns. During the 2016 campaign, he issued a limited report from a family doctor. He is overweight, bordering on obese, and tries to hide it with loosely tailored suits and long ties hanging below the waist. He doesn't believe in exercise other than golf.
On August 13, Trump's campaign released an advertisement entitled, Let President Trump Do His Job. The ad attacks those that Trump alleges to be his "enemies", and was released one day prior to violent far-right protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. The advertisement portrays Trump's enemies as being Democrats, the media and career politicians. The ad includes clips of various journalists, including several that work at CNN. CNN refused to play the ad, and campaign chairman Michael Glassner derided CNN's decision as “censorship". In retaliation to CNN, the President retweeted a far-right activist's post featuring an image of a "Trump Train" running over CNN. The tweet, which was later deleted, received criticism after a vehicular attack in Charlottesville that injured and killed counter-protesters.
Of course, don’t furl the flag or shut down those offshore accounts or start writing the complete history of American decline quite yet. After all, the United States still looms “lone” on an ever more chaotic planet. Its wealth remains stunning, its economic clout something to behold, its tycoons the envy of the Earth, and its military beyond compare when it comes to how much and how destructively, even if not how successfully. Still, make no mistake about it, Donald Trump is a harbinger, however bizarre, of a new American century in which this country will indeed no longer be (with a bow to Muhammad Ali) “the Greatest” or, for all but a shrinking crew, exceptional.
On September 16, groups supporting Trump organized a rally on the National Mall named the Mother of All Rallies. Organizers were originally hoping to draw one million attendees. However, in planning for security, the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia expected that only 1,800 people would attend and, ultimately, only about one thousand people attended. A nearby Juggalo rally drew greater crowds than the pro-Trump rally did.
Some news reports contained ambiguous phrasing which created the impression (without explicitly stating such) that the Trump campaign had ordered the production of Chinese-made campaign flags. For example, the New York Post described materials being manufactured in Chinese factories as “Trump’s re-election banners,” while USA Today called them “Trump’s 2020 banners.”
The Trump administration has been characterized by high turnover, particularly among White House staff. By the end of Trump's first year in office, 34 percent of his original staff had resigned, been fired, or been reassigned. As of early July 2018, 61 percent of Trump's senior aides had left and 141 staffers had left in the past year. Both figures set a record for recent presidents—more change in the first 13 months than his four immediate predecessors saw in their first two years. Notable early departures included National Security Advisor Mike Flynn (after just 25 days in office), Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, replaced by retired Marine General John F. Kelly on July 28, 2017, and Press Secretary Sean Spicer. Close personal aides to Trump such as Steve Bannon, Hope Hicks, John McEntee and Keith Schiller, have quit or been forced out.
In 1987 Trump spent almost $100,000 (equivalent to $215,407 in 2017) to place full-page advertisements in three major newspapers, proclaiming that "America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves." The advertisements also advocated for "reducing the budget deficit, working for peace in Central America, and speeding up nuclear disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union." After rumors of a presidential run, Trump was invited by Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, and Arkansas congressman Beryl Anthony Jr., to host a fundraising dinner for Democratic Congressional candidates and to switch parties. Anthony told The New York Times that "the message Trump has been preaching is a Democratic message." Asked whether the rumors were true, Trump denied being a candidate, but said, "I believe that if I did run for President, I'd win." According to a Gallup poll in December 1988, Trump was the tenth most admired man in America.
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Vice President Mike Pence strongly denied charges lodged by an August 5 New York Times report, which speculated that the Vice President was orchestrating a "shadow campaign" for the presidency in the 2020 election. Pence called the accusations "disgraceful and offensive" and Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway called the story a "complete fiction, complete fabrication".
The first is that he can barely contain his affection for — and apparent desire to return to — political campaigning. This is a guy who is just days away from being sworn in as the 45th president, and he's already talking gleefully about the next campaign. (And if you don't think he's gleeful, read Tumulty's whole interview; it's really something.)
John Hickenlooper, in his second term as Colorado governor, has built a solid economic record there while also instituting tough gun control laws and (despite his objections) overseeing the smooth introduction of legalized marijuana. He’s also evinced a willingness for bipartisanship that has served him well in purple Colorado. He’s an offbeat enough character that it’s possible to see him catching fire.
After Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey, the Justice Department appointed Robert Mueller as Special Counsel to investigate "any links and/or coordination" between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in its election interference. Trump has repeatedly denied accusations of collusion and obstruction of justice, calling the investigation a politically motivated "witch hunt".
In response to these wanton guesstimates, Trump instinctually fired back at the guesstimators. “Forbes is a bankrupt magazine, doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” “Fortune has no idea what my assets are” and “has totally lost its way.” But the real sulfuric acid was reserved for the lowballers over at Bloomberg. As usual, Trump made it personal, even suggesting his “friend,” the former New York City mayor, might be jealous. “Maybe Michael told them to do it,” Trump speculated in the Daily Mail, “because he always wanted to do what I’m doing.” Perhaps wisely, The New Yorker—even with its legendary phalanx of persnickety fact-checkers—wouldn’t venture any closer than “just a back-of-the-envelope calculation” of $2.56 billion, “which shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”
On October 25, the president traveled to Texas for a fundraiser hosted by the Dallas County Republican Party for both the RNC and his reelection campaign. The event was closed to the media. Mark Knoller noted, "By my count, this will be Pres Trump's 10th political fundraiser since taking office. 9 of 10 were closed to press coverage including today."
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.
The first rally organized by the campaign was held on February 18, 2017, in Melbourne, Florida, and was attended by an estimated 9,000 supporters. This was the earliest an incumbent president had ever held a campaign rally. During the rally, Trump defended his actions and criticized the media. He referred to a nonexistent incident that had supposedly happened in Sweden the previous night, while criticizing the asylum policies of several European countries. After backlash from the press and the Swedish government, Trump stated that he was referring to a Fox News program aired the previous day.