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Republicans’ 2020 campaign emerges


s we turn to summer 2020, it is not too early to see the framework of the Republican campaign to hold the White House and retain a Senate majority, though recapturing a House majority seems, at this point, a bridge too far.

These are worthy goals for a party facing many challenges this year, including the ongoing pandemic. How will Republicans manage all of this amid the falling popularity of the president?

By “slash and burn,” of course. What else could we expect from a Trump campaign?

First, be reminded the president has never said that he would not welcome the continuing support from Russia in 2020, so expect a well-funded Russian social media campaign from now through election day favoring a president they, the Russians, like better than any other candidate.

Will the Trump campaign expect help from other nations in 2020? There are ongoing efforts to enlist Ukrainian sources to help drum up a case against Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Even now, a Senate too busy to take up additional support for America’s struggling businesses and families is planning hearings that highlight the nefarious, imagined actions of the Bidens in Ukraine.

This week the smear campaign was ignited by the revealing of conversation tapes between Vice President Biden and ex- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko over a $1 billion dollar loan to Ukraine. The source for the newly-revealed tapes? Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, a 1993 graduate of Moscow’s spy academy. While the tapes seem to reveal nothing negative about Biden, Rudy Giuliani’s connection to Derkach is hardly secret. Is this the Republican version of Benghazi for 2020? All smoke, no fire? Absolutely.

On another attack front, the Trump campaign and Republicans, in general, are working to reduce the number of voters in 2020.

This is not a new tactic, Republicans have frequently sought to drop pesky Democrats off voter rolls, or move polling locations quietly, or reduce polling locations and cut the number of voting machines to slow down the voting in Democratic precincts on election day.

Republicans have also made gerrymandering a fine art for the same purposes. But this year, with many voters concerned about voting in person during the coronavirus, the president has attacked absentee ballots and voting as cheating schemes with zero evidence to support the claim.

But if all the above is not enough smoke, or if there is a campaign shortage of mirrors, there will also be “Obamagate.”

Obamagate is the Trump attempt to turn around his campaign’s connections with Russians to instead ask: Why would U.S. intelligence agencies look at those connections? For this, one should refer to the Mueller report which not only does not exonerate Trump, but specifically reported, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

The Trump folks will also claim the president and his administration have done a “perfect” job managing to make the U.S. the most dangerous location on the planet for coronavirus cases and deaths.

So, how are all these early strategies working for the re-election campaign? A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Vice President Biden leading President Trump by 11 points, an increase over previous polling.

But give the president time to organize his foreign “helpers,” time to fully engage the Republican Senate in Benghazi 2.0; and time to commit Republican governors across the country to fight against absentee ballots and find other imaginative ways to overcome and reduce the voters in November.

The Republican theory at work is the “Smoke and Mirrors” concept. When you have little to show for your presidency in terms of accomplishment, just keep blowing more smoke.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.