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To quote the esteemed American philosopher, Yogi Berra, “it’s deja vu all over again” in the wake of the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago as former President Donald Trump once again has single-handedly hijacked the nation’s attention.
Following the January 6th hearings, the federal-judge-approved search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents, and the guilty plea of Trump Organization’s CFO Allen Weisselberg, the 45th president of the United States is once again back in the spotlight, raising money, and consuming all the political and media oxygen available.
A few months ago, Washington’s favorite parlor game focused on guessing just how massive the red wave would be in November, wiping out Democratic control of the House and Senate.
Rising stars on the right were making trips to the all-important states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and writing books with dreams of occupying the Oval Office. With President Biden’s job approval numbers underwater, gas prices increasing daily, and supply chain issues affecting everyday Americans, many Democrats were rightly worried about what we might wake up to on Wednesday, November 9th.
Now, inflation has ebbed, prices at the pump have declined for two straight months, and last month’s job creation numbers, totaling more than half a million, took everyone in Washington by surprise. And instead of a strong bench of Republicans articulating a vision for the future, we are yet again only talking about Donald Trump.
Donald Trump leaves NYC post FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago resort
(Felipe Ramales: Fox News Digital)
All of these factors, coupled with a series of big legislative wins for veterans health care, the CHIPs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act provide a stark contrast for President Biden and the united Democratic Party compared with the scenes playing out on the Republican side of the aisle.
In the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search, former President Trump is rallying his base and forcing would-be rivals to go on the record that there was nothing wrong or illegal in taking classified documents, some of our nation’s most sensitive secrets, to his palatial country club estate in Palm Beach.
Literally overnight, all talk of potential GOP 2024 contenders appears to have evaporated leaving Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz and even Trump’s one-time running mate, Vice President Mike Pence, scratching their heads and pledging fealty to the Don once again.
Even South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, who just published a book in anticipation of a potential presidential run, spent the majority of his time on cable news after August 8 answering questions about the Palm Beach raid instead of talking about his brand of politics and how he can take it national.
If you thought Donald Trump was no longer the head of the Republican Party, you lose. Republicans have rushed to defend their defeated standard bearer on dubious grounds and the former president is reaping all the political and financial benefits, while draining critical resources and attention from Republicans locked in tough races with less than 80 days until the midterm elections.
The day after the Mar-a-Lago raid, Trump’s campaign team-in-waiting furiously emailed and texted supporters, raising over $1 million in just 24 hours. At the same time, the Senate GOP campaign arm announced that it was cutting back $13.5 million in ad spending across four key senate races.
Any talk about Trump running again in 2024 or the potential of him announcing before the midterms, would likely drive turnout to be more like a presidential election year rather than a midterm cycle. While it’s true that Trump garnered more votes than any other Republican candidate in history, Joe Biden smashed all previous records by besting the incumbent president by more than seven million votes in 2020.
A midterm election, with a fired up electorate that looks more like 2018 or 2020, will benefit Team Blue in November. Plus any time spent talking about the former president, and not about inflation and rising costs across the board, helps down ballot Democratic incumbents and challengers.
Once again, while his endorsed candidates are floundering in the polls, Trump is in the driver’s seat, reaping all the political benefits for himself while costing his party.
As a Democratic operative, I am not worried about the prospects of Donald Trump running for president again.
In fact, as a campaign guy who wants to have a Democrat in the White House until 2028, I want him to be the 2024 Republican nominee. By taking up all the oxygen and raising money for himself while GOP senate challengers drop in the polls, it’s clear that the Mar-a-Lago raid winners are Donald Trump and Democratic prospects in November.
Kevin Walling is a Democratic campaign strategist, former Biden 2020 campaign surrogate, vice president at HGCreative. Follow him on Twitter @KevinPWalling.