Friday, May 27, 2022
May 27, 2022

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Leubsdorf: 2024 predictions are likely off


Just hours after the news broke that Mitch Landrieu would manage the administration’s new infrastructure program, the first 2024 presidential speculation emerged about the former New Orleans mayor.

“Add another name to the 2024 roster,” tweeted The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, adding that an unnamed Democrat had texted him, “Mitch succeeds at this job and he becomes a strong player down the field.”

That speculation was hardly unique.

As Joe Biden begins his second year as president, media speculation about the next election is in full sway, spurred in part by his age and poor poll ratings.

Here’s some advice: Take most of it with a grain of salt. History tells us the 2024 contest won’t unfold like it looks three years out. In fact, it will probably differ from how it looks one year out.

After all, who thought in November 2015 Donald Trump would be the next president or, in November 2019, he’d lose to Joe Biden? Who foresaw a China-spawned virus paralyzing the nation and transforming the 2020 landscape?

But that hasn’t stopped anyone.

Most Democratic speculation assumes Biden won’t run again at age 82. The president has tried to knock that down, telling ABC’s David Muir last month, “If I’m in the health I’m in now — I’m in good health — then in fact I would run again.” If Donald Trump runs, he said, “that increases the prospect of running.”

Still, Democratic speculation pales alongside the incessant analyses of the likelihood that Trump will seek to regain the presidency in 2024. Two potential problems: age (he turns 78 in 2024) and investigations into his business operations and his efforts to overturn the 2020 result.

If he runs, Trump would be the first president since Theodore Roosevelt seeking a return to the White House after a four-year absence and the first since Grover Cleveland to do so four years after losing.

Though he dominates the GOP like no former president in modern times, that has not stopped speculation about other potential candidates, mostly Trump allies but also critics like Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

In a recent Vanity Fair article, Mike Pence’s biographer, Tom Lobianco, called the former vice president the “putative front-runner.” A busy speaking schedule and the loss of 90 pounds have fueled speculation about former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s intentions.

Other potential aspirants from Trump World include former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Tim Scott of South Carolina.

Most indicate they won’t challenge Trump. But Christie said the former president’s entry wouldn’t keep him out. DeSantis refuses to say what he would do, angering his former patron, Trump.

The out-of-control speculation even included a Marc Caputo Politico article discussing potential Trump running mates, ranging from former acting National Intelligence Director Ric Grenell to Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Most have visited Mar-a-Lago and, according to an adviser quoted by Politico, Trump says “They’re all begging me.”

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