Iowa Politics with Jeff Stein — Fri. Nov. 20, 2020

Iowa Politics with Jeff Stein — Fri. Nov. 20, 2020

Freezing the Field

Even before election day this month, potential 2024 presidential candidates were making their way to Iowa to support those on the ballot in congressional races this year. The conventional wisdom was that on the Republican side, regardless of the outcome in 2020, it would be an open nomination with no incumbent in 2024.

With the results of the 2020 presidential election yet to be certified, things are in sort of a holding pattern…especially since the current president is talking about a second term, regardless of who is sworn in on January 20th, 2021.

President Trump clearly believes he won a second term…and has apparently said if he has to turn things over to Joe Biden, he’ll just run again in 2024 to reclaim what was denied him this time. And that’s what has frozen the potential field.

Presume just for this moment that Trump does not win the 2020 election. The current and perhaps future president has a strong base of loyal supporters who won’t take kindly to others who toss their hats in the ring, even informally, while he’s making noises about running again. Money is going to be hard to find for them, and clearly no one is going to grab more media attention.

Until Trump makes it clear that he is not running in 2024–and that won’t likely happen until some time in 2022–those who have practiced taking the oath of office in front of a mirror will have to walk a fine line. They may make trips to Iowa and other early states, say that it’s important to flip the White House red in 2024, and he or she is simply here in the event Trump decides not to run…something deferential like that.

Of all the things one can say about Donald Trump, being the second coming of Grover Cleveland did not come to mind. Then again, given the uniqueness of the Trump phenomenon…why not?