By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill Jan. 26, 2023

2024 will mark a sorry anniversary for the Republican Party: 20 years since President George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign won both the popular and Electoral College votes. That feat has since eluded three GOP presidential nominees and one incumbent.

The critical question is, “Are Republicans capable of nominating a winning ticket to halt this embarrassing losing trend?” I doubt it since rapidly changing demographics are reducing the Republicans’ popular vote count in battleground states.

In 2016, Donald Trump was elected president by winning only the Electoral College — a political fluke that he did not repeat in 2020. Moreover, the demeaning label “illegitimate president” can haunt a commander in chief who wins without the popular vote. Just ask George W. Bush, circa 2000.

To understand how this forthcoming non-celebratory 20th anniversary of continuous political loss manifested itself, let’s begin with notable 2004 state voting data and compare it to 2020 state results.

But first, the basic facts: Incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in a demure, respectable campaign by today’s standards. Bush won the popular vote 50.7 to 48.3 percent and the Electoral College vote 286 to 251.

Subsequently, four states totaling 32 electoral votes that contributed to Bush topping 270 in 2004 have since become GOP Electoral College “dropouts.” Starting in 2008, every Democratic presidential ticket has won the following states (with their 2024 electoral votes in parentheses): Virginia (13), Colorado (10), Nevada (6) and New Mexico (5).

Where does the Republican Party go to replace those 34 electoral votes? Good question. GOP presidential candidates dream about turning back the clock but wake up to face this daunting data:

In 2004, Bush won Virginia by a safe 8.2 percentage point margin, but in 2020 Biden won by an even safer 10.1 points.

Colorado used to be Bush country by a comfortable margin of 4.7 percentage points. Then in 2020, Biden achieved an astounding 13.5-point victory.

New Mexico was a 2004 Bush squeaker where he won by 0.7 percentage point. Yet, Biden triumphed with 10.8 points.  

Then in Nevada, Bush took the state by only 2.6 points, and Biden won with a 3-point margin.

As referenced earlier, the comparative data from those four states demonstrate a more significant demographic voter problem that will dog the Republican Party into 2024. Here is the major obstacle using data from the Roper Center from 2004 and 2020:

In 2004, whites composed 77 percent of voters, a share that shrunk to 67 percent by 2020. Bush was reelected in 2004 after winning the white vote 58 to 41 percent over Kerry. But in 2020, Trump lost reelection to Joe Biden even after winning whites 58 to 41 percent — the same percentage Bush won in 2004.

Hence, that 10 percent drop in whites as a share of voters from 2004 to 2020 proved detrimental to Trump. And in 2024, the white percentage will continue shrinking (perhaps by three points), the same decrease from 2016 to 2020, when white voters dipped from 70 to 67 percent.

By comparison, 1984 Roper data show that 86 percent of voters were white when President Reagan won his reelection landslide, winning them 66 to 34 percent over former Vice President Walter Mondale.

While still heavily relying on white voters, the Republican Party continues to lose states that had historically been red — most prominently Georgia and Arizona in 2020. So again, let’s compare both states to Bush’s 2004 benchmark victory to grasp the GOP’s precipitous decline.

Bush won Arizona by 10.5 percentage points. Sixteen years later, Biden eked out a 0.3 percentage point surprise defeat over Trump — who in 2016 had won Arizona by 3.6 percentage points. Thus, in 2024, Arizona catapults to the highest tier of battleground states with its 11-vote Electoral College prize.

Georgia in 2024 will garner even more money and media attention. Its newly acquired battleground status illustrates the Republican Party’s vulnerability. In 2004, Bush conquered Georgia with a 16.6 percentage point blowout, while Trump won by a respectable 5.2 points in 2016. Then in 2020, Trump and Republicans were stunned when Biden managed a 0.2 percentage point win, earning 16 new blue electoral votes, and the fallout continues in court.

Republicans losing popular and electoral votes in states once considered safe will force the party into a 270-vote math fight where the electoral-rich “blue wall” states of Pennsylvania (19), Wisconsin (10) and Michigan (15) become “must-win” for Republicans. That is a desperate and expensive situation involving 44 electoral votes and the White House at stake.

In 2004, Bush lost Pennsylvania (21), Michigan (17) and Wisconsin (10), then totaling 48 electoral votes, but he had enough of an electoral cushion to reach 270 without the trio. Now the Bush cushion has deflated.

Trump, who lost the popular vote in 2016, was elected president because he busted through the triple blue wall by winning an extra 77,744 votes spread across PennsylvaniaMichigan and Wisconsin — earning 46 electoral votes. Then in 2020, those three states reverted to blue when Biden won with similarly close margins as Trump in 2016.

The Republican Party faces a crisis due to its shrinking white voter base unless it makes commensurate gains among the growing non-white electorate, which totaled 33 percent of voters in 2020 and which Biden won 71 to 26 percent over Trump. That 33 percent will increase in 2024.  

Nearly 20 years after he became the last Republican to win the popular and electoral votes, George W. Bush has ironically become an outcast in a Trump-dominated party. GOP voters in 2024 are unlikely to nominate a candidate who can match Bush’s 2004 achievement, which will require a major realignment and rebranding.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill: Jan. 5, 2023

The calendar says 2023, but politically, it’s 2024. Therefore, at the beginning of this volatile two-year presidential campaign cycle, expect at least half of the predictions and prognostications to be inoperative by January 2024. (But we don’t know which half!)

My speculation about a small fraction of the half likely to be valid a year from now concerns two names on The Hill’s recent report, “GOP Rankings: The Republicans most likely to be the party’s 2024 presidential nominee.” Ranked fifth was former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who leads former Vice President Mike Pence, in seventh place.

These distinguished “formers” from President Trump’s Cabinet share a similar trajectory (going nowhere) while deciding whether to fight their old boss and enter the race. I say, “don’t waste your time,” because this vainglorious exercise invariably leads to a future announcement: “Today, I will end my campaign.”

Meanwhile, the Mikes are trolling in Iowa, have visited New Hampshire and are touring red states to flack their books. Pence’s book, titled “So Help Me God,” last week ranked #11 on the New York Times bestseller list. Even so, the former VP fails to generate excitement outside his loyal base of white evangelical voters, which he famously brought to Trump’s victorious ticket in 2016.

Pompeo’s book “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love” has a Jan. 24 publication date. But the only list that both Pompeo and Pence are likely to top is “Republicans least likely to win the 2024 nomination.”

Let’s begin with Pence, an honorable, loyal Christian man. Pence – after four years one breath away from becoming the most powerful man on the planet – has scar tissue from continuously biting his lower lip while silently standing next to President Trump.

However, when all the facts are known about Team Trump’s plot to remain in power, I believe history will cast Mike Pence as an American hero for his courageous actions on Jan. 6, 2021.

At the Capitol, when democracy was under attack (with a gallows erected to chants of “hang Mike Pence”), the vice president honored his oath of office, “so help me God.” And faithfully, under intense presidential pressure, Pence ignored Trump’s pleas not to fulfill his constitutionally mandated duty to certify the Electoral College votes. Consequently, repeatedly, he was called a “traitor” and shunned by the majority MAGA wing of the Republican Party.

Two years later, Pence is squandering his heroic legacy since testing presidential waters means he must appease Trump’s loyal base and convince them to support him. Hence why Pence has never publicly condemned Trump’s actions or the trauma he endured before, during and after Jan. 6, 2021.

Last year on the anniversary of Jan. 6, my Hill op-ed was headlined, “The ‘hero’ of Jan. 6 should embrace the truth.” But American voters are still waiting for Pence’s “truth” since he declined to testify in front of the Jan. 6 committee. In the meantime, on his book tour, Pence boasts about the Trump/Pence administration’s accomplishments, anticipating his 2024 run — running in circles earning single-digit support in GOP preference polls.

Instead, Pence should withdraw from 2024, play his heroic trump card and inspire others to do the right thing when the going gets tough in life-and-death situations.

Pence also knows that Trump could be toppled with the smallest bench of primary candidates. That’s another reason for Pence to declare, “So help me God” and serve the country by playing kingmaker — leading his evangelical base to support a godly winning candidate not named Trump.

But Mike Pompeo is not that candidate. Although fifth in The Hill’s rankings, Pompeo earned only 1 and 2 percentage points in recent GOP primary polls. Nevertheless, the former Kansas congressman tapped by Trump to be CIA director then secretary of state, and now a Fox News contributor, has a presidential resume — but only by divine intervention will he occupy the Oval Office. Speaking of almighty works, on Dec. 29, I received a fundraising email from Mike Pompeo with the subject line: “Wisdom from the Bible.” Pompeo quoted a passage from Jeremiah and then wrote:

“Our God-given freedoms are under assault. That’s why I created the Freedom Fund. To defend the freedoms and values that make America great against government overreach and the radical Left.” He continued:

“If you love America and refuse to let the Democrats turn the American dream into a socialist nightmare, that I need YOU to step up right away with an emergency donation to our Freedom Fund.”

Hey Mike: What about the “nightmare” perpetrated by your former boss, who trampled the Constitution trying to overturn a legitimate election to keep himself in power? Why haven’t you directly criticized his actions?

At least Pompeo had the guts to speak with the Jan. 6. committee. Then last week, his testimony transcript was released, with his shocking answer to the following question found on page 17, lines 14-16:

Q. “Did you reach out to any counterparts in other countries on [Jan 6] to convey any information or reassure them as the attack on the Capitol was unfolding?”

A. “I don’t recall.” 

Pompeo’s answer signals a dereliction of duty and makes for an embarrassing opposition ad that writes itself. Cue the footage and deep male voice-over:

“The Capitol is under siege. A necessary step for the transfer of presidential power is threatened and halted. The vice president is hiding, the president is silent for hours, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says, ‘I DON’T RECALL’ reaching out to reassure our allies.”  

Chances are Pompeo’s candidacy won’t get far enough to warrant that script. With no political lane, branding or constituency, Pompeo stands for nothing but lofty platitudes and, worse, will lose his Fox News gig once he declares.

New Year’s memo to Pence and Pompeo: Stay on the sidelines, write books, speak the truth about your old boss and support candidates who can defeat him.  

Drop out before you drop in.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill – Dec. 15, 2022

At every Republican gathering, there is one question that no one dares to voice: Will former President Trump drop out of the 2024 presidential race?

After Trump’s widely panned “low energy” presidential announcement on Nov. 15, the first month has been the campaign from hell.

At the starting gate after the midterm elections, Trump was directly blamed for the GOP’s failure to win control of the Senate and why the much-ballyhooed red wave stayed offshore. Then headlines exploded after he dined with celebrity Nazi lovers, racists and white supremacists — followed by his unhinged call for the termination of Constitution election rules benefiting him.

Pile on the Justice Department naming a special prosecutor to investigate events before and during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, enjoined with the Mar-a-Lago document scandal. Then add a host of legal setbacks after numerous political and business rulings.

Furthermore, the first month saw major donors jump ship and the stratospheric rise of a young rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — a Trump acolyte. Now, Trump’s 2024 campaign reality show is stranger than fiction, but the political reality is reflected in the downward trajectory of his poll numbers.

On Tuesday, The Hill reported a USA Today-Suffolk University poll showing DeSantis walloping Trump, 56 percent to 33 percent, among Republican and leaning GOP primary voters in a hypothetical match-up. Also, only 31 percent of Republican primary voters favor a Trump run.

Then on Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal poll showed DeSantis defeating Trump 52 percent to 38 percent. These and other polls make headlines and generate sustained media attention, eroding Trump’s standing as the inevitable front-runner.

Thus, the average politician would ask, “Is the universe telling me to disband my campaign?” Except Trump is not average. “I’m a victim, I will tell you. I’m a victim,” he said in his presidential announcement speech. Even more, he is a “victim” of self-inflicted wounds. But do Americans want to elect “a victim” as their next president?

Nonetheless, Trump is a unique victim who can never lose. In his mind, he is always a winner, which means the contest must be rigged if he does not emerge victorious. The worst name he can ever be called is “loser” — which explains why he manufactured the “Big Lie” to cover his 2020 reelection defeat.

And what was the overarching reason behind the Jan. 6 attack? So that Trump could go from “loser” to “winner” after the Electoral College results were overturned.

Looking ahead to 2023, what if Trump is indicted by the Justice Department (more likely every day) and the 2024 GOP nomination polls continue to boldly favor DeSantis? While Trump fears losing, what course of action is available to him before the primaries begin? Surely not a traditional campaign withdrawal speech.

Instead, Trump could play the poor health card and withdraw, a plausible excuse after he turns 77 in June. That way, Trump saves face by not being called a “loser” — only a victim of bodily maladies beyond his control.

Then imagine his predictable social media message: “I was winning the nomination and would have won the general election, but my doctor says I am at risk for (fill in the blank) and must end my campaign.”

The foundation for such an announcement was laid on April 4, 2022. During an interview with The Washington Post, Trump hinted that health problems could factor into his 2024 campaign decision, saying, “You always have to talk about health. You look like you’re in good health, but tomorrow, you get a letter from a doctor saying come see me again. That’s not good when they use the word again.”

Eyebrows were raised when Trump admitted human frailty, while skeptics saw the strategic potential for him to mix health with political face-saving.

Although Trump’s Nov. 15 presidential announcement negated playing his health card, he still holds the ace to save face if the following triple pressures become too intense in 2023:

First and potentially, Trump could be fighting the feds in a multicount federal indictment. Second and very likely, Trump wages a nasty nomination battle against DeSantis. Initially, the primary bench could be crowded, but ultimately, more likely the GOP nomination will be a two-man death match. 

Third, Trump must be the commanding general in the forthcoming GOP civil war against powerful forces who want a fresh face amid polls showing Trump could sink the GOP in 2024.

These three factors strengthen my hunch that Trump’s presidential campaign will end by this time next year.

Conversely, since Trump is known to be ruthless, narcissistic and can’t appear to lose, many will say the prospect of him dropping out is ridiculous. But that is the beauty of playing the health card in late 2023. Health problems, real or manufactured, could be used offensively, allowing Trump to maintain control of his non-defeat if he is careening toward inevitable primary defeats.

Most importantly, the health card protects his winning persona, allowing him to play kingmaker from the sidelines.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted From The Hill – Dec. 1, 2022

Brace yourself for the most dramatic and wackiest six months in pre-presidential campaign history. The action starts in January, but by June, expect answers to six questions that will set the stage for the 2024 presidential campaign.

The operative word is “expect,” as in “expect the unexpected” — a sure-fire political axiom.

We begin with the Democrats.

  1. Will President Biden run for reelection?

The answer should be announced by the end of January, since on Nov. 9, Biden teased, “my intention is that I run again — but I’m a great respecter of fate” while “guessing” that “the decision will be announced early next year.”

Thus, assuming Biden runs, these three factors could derail his reelection:

First, midterm election exit polls showed 67 percent of respondents, including 31 percent of Democrats, do not want Biden to run.

Second, “ageism” will be unkind to the ticket. Biden, who turns 82 in 2024, shines a glaring spotlight on Vice President Kamala Harris. According to poll averages, Harris’s 37 percent favorable rating is worse than Biden’s at 43 percent, while their unfavorable ratings are tied at nearly 52 percent.

Third, Biden’s weak and unpopular vice president is not easily replaceable since, as a non-white woman, Harris represents the base of the Democratic Party.

Therefore, with no heir apparent or primary opposition, could this lackluster 2024 Democrat ticket be in place by February?

Conversely, if Biden declines a second term, all political hell will break loose. But worse, from the national security desk, our adversaries might perceive Biden’s two-year lame-duck status as a sign of weakness and act more aggressively.

2. If Biden runs, will Kamala Harris remain on the ticket?

Ageism was previously mentioned, but this sensitive issue must be addressed from the perspective of a tragic news flash: “President Harris.”  

Democrats will downplay this touchy topic, but Republicans will hype it to the max after the ticket is announced and through Election Day. But “expect the unexpected” if polls show Harris as an extreme liability, and she might be pressured to withdraw from the ticket (perhaps for “health reasons” or to run for Sen. Diane Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) seat in 2024 or even to be nominated for a Supreme Court vacancy). In that case, newly reelected Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer – who recently vaulted to national prominence – might be a strong replacement.  

3. What’s the early 2023 Republican perspective?

It is historically unprecedented that the GOP already has a declared presidential candidate frontrunner two years before Election Day 2024. That frontrunner also controls the Republican Party apparatus from top to bottom.

Politically speaking, in “normal” circumstances, if that frontrunner’s likely opponent were an incumbent president, an early announcement might be advantageous. But, when the frontrunner is twice-impeached former President Trump, who failed to win the popular vote in two elections, is entangled in webs of legal liability and tailed by a special prosecutorthere are too many downsides. Such as:

Trump’s flawed, loyalty-based primary candidate interventions kept Republicans from winning control of the Senate.

He is saddled with an average 54 percent unfavorable rating, higher than Biden and Harris.

The former president recently dined with a celebrity antisemite accompanied by a white nationalist leader. Ironically, this bizarre incident could generate more lasting political fallout than Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, indirectly attack the Capitol and remove top-secret documents from the White House. Then watch as Trump drama peaks during the first six months of 2023 due to the next question

4. Will the Department of Justice (DOJ) indict Trump before June 2023?

No matter what action or inaction the DOJ takes, there will be massive political consequences. The June date matters because, by that time, the 2024 GOP bench will be packed with Trump’s primary opponents. Then, as a group, they might speak out against the former president’s actions, helping to mitigate the potential for political upheaval from his loyalists after hammering the “it’s time to move on” theme.

More questions: If Trump is indicted, will he go to trial? Will there be violence? Will a deal be made to stop him from running? Will the GOP pressure Trump to drop out? What action will Republican leaders take against the DOJ? (For example, will they try to impeach Attorney General Merrick Garland?)

The only playbook is the law.

5. Will the anti-Trump faction spark a civil war within the Republican Party?

If so, it will start in late January when Trump’s ally, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, is up for reelection. But there will be no contest since Trump loyalists control all the party machinery at every level — having disposed of anyone not deemed sufficiently “Trumpian.” Still, momentum for a “fresh face” is growing.

6. Will Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announce for president in May or June?

That timing is based on the end of Florida’s legislative session presided over by Gov. DeSantis. He is ascendent as the party’s future hope after winning reelection by nearly 20 points. Polls, like this one from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, show DeSantis slightly ahead of Trump.

Meanwhile, major donors are deserting Trump and becoming unabashedly vocal about what the Florida governor represents — winning elections. Therefore, when DeSantis announces in mid-2023 (“when” not “if,” I hear), loyal Trump voters might support the 44-year-old Trump acolyte, who offers “Trumpism” without Trump’s legal problems, ongoing drama, name-calling and losing streak.

The recent barrage of DeSantis media hype runs the risk that he might peak too early. Can he live up to the oversized expectations – topple Trump and then Biden – having never competed on the national stage?

That question will be answered much later. In the meantime, there are enough questions for the first six months of 2023 to keep the political adrenaline pumping and juice the axiom, “expect the unexpected.”

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill – Nov. 18, 2022

Last Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) won reelection, defeating Democrat Charlie Crist by 19.4 percentage points. His victory was the political equivalent of tectonic plates shifting the Earth’s crust — a theory explaining the creation of continents and mountain ranges.

The magnitude of DeSantis’s triumph also triggered a plate shift at the Republican National Committee. Powerful energy was emerging to move mountains, creating new landscapes for someone not named Trump to be the 2024 presidential nominee.

Speaking of creation, Gov. DeSantis’s final campaign ad featured a Genesis-inspired narration about God creating “a fighter on the eighth day.” DeSantis’s sacrilegious self-branding was universally criticized.

But criticism of former President Trump was more injurious after the election fallout opened a political sinkhole under Mar-a-Lago. The first national post-midterm poll, followed by a flood of Republican surveys from Iowa, New Hampshire, Georgia, Florida and Texas, showed the former president trailing DeSantis by double digits. Then, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant and possibly ward off potential indictments, Trump’s Tuesday night reelection announcement was mocked as “low energy” and sank into weak sand.

Contrast Trump’s campaign launch with DeSantis’s Nov. 8 victory speech. The jubilant governor acknowledged tectonic shifts, bragging, “We have rewritten the political map.” Although referring to Florida, that statement, and the entire speech, was a national dog whistle for his (assumed) 2024 run. DeSantis concluded:

“Now, while our country flounders due to failed leadership in Washington, Florida is on the right track. I believe the survival of the American experiment requires a revival of true American principles. Florida has proved that it can be done. We offer a ray of hope that better days still lie ahead.”

Sounding Reagan-esque and steeped in conservative governing principles, could Ron DeSantis – the new Ron Reagan – forge a 21st century version of the Reagan coalition that brought millions of disgruntled “Reagan Democrats” to the GOP? That successful coalition resulted in three consecutive Reagan landslides — 1980, 1984 and 1988, when Vice President George H. W. Bush indirectly won Reagan’s “third term.”

Inspired by Reagan, DeSantis announced Feb. 6 as “Ronald Reagan Day” in Florida, proclaiming, “Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest presidents our nation has ever had and left an iconic legacy that continues to inspire.”

Channeling Reagan in the third most populous state (having “rewritten the political map”), DeSantis is combat-ready to lead a national political and cultural realignment. Most likely, his presidential announcement will occur after the Florida Legislature’s session closes in early June.

Meanwhile, DeSantis benefits from a touchy topic. On Nov. 20, President Biden turns 80, and his opponent might be the 44-year-old governor. Recent presidential campaign history shows that age gaps of more than 20 years favor the younger candidate.

For example, in 1992, Gov. Bill Clinton (D-Ark.), age 46, defeated 68-year-old President George H. W. Bush. And again in 1996, Clinton, age 50, trounced Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas), age 73. Then in 2008, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), age 47, prevailed over 72-year-old Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

Now that Trump, age 76, is an official presidential candidate, the history of elder defeat raises an inevitable question: Will the Grand Old Party be the first to nominate a presidential candidate from Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979)?

Look to DeSantis’s Florida victory for the answer after he garnered broad support from the nation’s two largest racial groups — whites and Hispanics. That fact will bolster DeSantis’s strategic argument that he is the strongest general election candidate to “fight” President Biden, who teased his forthcoming reelection announcement.

Moreover, Florida represents a racially mixed America. Census bureau data show whites are 53 percent of the population. Hispanics at 27 percent, African Americans 17 percent and Asians at 3.

Let’s compare Florida exit poll data from DeSantis in 2022 and Trump in 2020. Naturally, more Floridians voted in the presidential election, casting 10.96 million ballots, while 7.7 million voted in the midterms.

The Florida and national exit poll data shown below is from NBC News, but the data is consistent across all major news organizations:  

2022: White vote, 64 percent of the electorate — DeSantis 65 percent/Crist 34.

2020: White vote, 62 percent of the electorate — Trump 62 percent/Biden 37.

2020 National: White vote, 67 percent of the electorate — Trump 58 percent/Biden 41.

2022: Fla. Hispanic vote, 21 percent of electorate — DeSantis 58 percent/Crist 40.

2020: FL Hispanic vote, 19 percent of electorate — Trump 53 percent/Biden 46.

2020 National: Hispanic vote, 13 percent of electorate — Trump 32 percent/Biden 65.

DeSantis could lead a new Reagan-like coalition resulting in a national realignment of Hispanic voters — flipping states such as Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada back into the red column.

Although DeSantis reveres President Reagan as his political role model, the governor is known to lack Reagan’s charming persona. Worse, it has been widely reported that DeSantis is devoid of personality. He is known to burn through staff, has a huge ego, is thin-skinned and always on the attack. In a balanced but revealing Vanity Fair profile of DeSantis, Gabriel Sherman wrote, “The biggest complaint you hear about DeSantis is that he never says thank you.”  

But personality traits behind closed doors matter less if DeSantis can crush Trump with shifting tectonic plates. A promising DeSantis coalition built on his conservative policy leadership as an anti-woke culture warrior known for “getting things done” must first win over GOP primary voters in a cage fight with the former president.

For years Republicans bemoaningly asked, “Who will be the next Reagan?” Then, in 2015, Trump descended the escalator and remade the party in his image. Now, DeSantis, supremely talented but humanly flawed with rough edges, is well positioned as a unique “Generation X” mix of Ronald and Donald.

Ultimately, all these politically rational pro-DeSantis 2024 arguments make too much sense. That explains why a GOP civil war is just warming up, as “Trump the Impaler” is armed with spears.

And if Trump fails to win the nomination, don’t be surprised when he swipes “the torch passed to a new generation” and burns the GOP with a third-party run.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill – Nov. 3, 2022

A convergence of forces threatens to crack the Constitution’s solid foundation upon which our nation has thrived. Pressure emanating from this powerful convergence could cause tectonic plate shifts impacting and destabilizing equal justice, the rule of law and government authority. At risk is our traditionally respected electoral system, along with the peaceful transfer of power that helped make this oldest continuous democracy the envy of the world.

Intensifying the pressure is a partisan media in which truth is pliable based on the audience’s political leaning, reflecting our hyper-polarized electorate, where facts and “alternative facts” are equally valid.

That is the national backdrop for two Earth-shaking decisions expected after the midterm elections. In one corner, former president Trump declares his decision to launch a 2024 presidential campaign. In the other, Attorney General Merrick Garland announces whether the Department of Justice (DOJ) will pursue an indictment of citizen Trump. Which decisive event occurs first could be consequential to advancing a successful message-branding narrative while forcing the other into a defensive posture.  

Either way, Americans should brace themselves for turmoil mirroring pre-Civil War levels of hatred and mayhem with the potential for violence. Note that unrelated to this topic, a major survey associated with Yale University found that among American adults, “Half (50.1%) agreed that ‘in the next few years, there will be civil war in the United States.’” That begs the question: Could a DOJ indictment of Trump be a spark? Keep reading.

But first, let’s explore circumstances and responses concerning two announcements, starting with:

Donald Trump declares he is running for president

Political history is made when the twice-impeached former president (who twice lost the popular vote) declares his intention to run for a second term.

According to recent poll averages, Trump’s chances are 50-50 against his assumed opponent, President Biden. Many believe Trump would run to avenge his 2020 loss, which he still insists he won. Equally plausible, he could run to boost his now damaged but once respected Trump brand while he is embroiled in numerous, complex legal challenges.

By declaring his candidacy ahead of possible DOJ indictments, Trump could hope to accomplish the following:

– Rally his base and juice the rightwing media machine with messages that Trump is unbeatable against “Slow Biden.”

– Assume Trump can and will intimidate potential primary opponents into dropping out before they officially declare.

 – Strategically hover over the crowd of 2024 GOP hopefuls but not join them. For example, Trump declined an invitation to the annual Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas on Nov. 18-19. All the prospective GOP candidates will be at this major-donor cattle call except “King Trump,” who expects to be crowned without a primary fight. (Note to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis: Bring Trump’s “crown,” make a joke and generate some headlines.)  

–  By announcing before Thanksgiving, the former president likely believes he will ward off a DOJ indictment, showing what a huge political mistake it would be since he is the overwhelming favorite to win the GOP nomination.

–  Intimidation has long been a Trump calling card. In mid-September, The Hill reported Hugh Hewitt’s controversial interview with Trump, when the former president hinted at “problems” among the American people should he be indicted.

Trump would have a distinct advantage should he declare his candidacy before a potential DOJ indictment. This week, The Hill reported that influential Republicans expect AG Garland will indict Trump “60 to 90 days after Election Day.”

Garland could also announce that DOJ will not pursue an indictment against the leading presidential candidate from the opposing political party vying to defeat his boss. Indeed, there will be much talk about “shredding the Constitution” if Trump is not brought to justice with headlines screaming, “Politics Trumps Law.”

DOJ indicts Trump before he declares his 2024 candidacy

At an August news conference shortly after the Mar-a-Lago raid, Garland said, “Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly without fear or favor.” Therefore, if DOJ indicts Trump, expect lofty platitudes such as “we are a nation built on laws” and “even a former president or leading presidential candidate is not above the law,” along with “mountains of evidence” and a “solid case.”

Trump already heralded his response to a DOJ indictment in the previously mentioned Hugh Hewitt interview when he said, “‘There is no reason that they can [indict], other than if they’re just sick and deranged, which is always possible, because I did absolutely … nothing wrong.’”  

Then, assume Trump would personalize the indictment, messaging something like, “Indicting me is indicting you.” And repeating what he said after the Mar-a-lago raid: “It is prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the justice system and an attack by radical left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for president in 2024.”

My bet is Trump announces his presidential intentions well before DOJ makes any move. Perhaps DOJ thinks it will be prudent to wait until the initial Trump fervor dies down — putting space between pursuing justice and presidential politics. DOJ could also spice up its indictment press conference with a surprise announcement on Jan. 6, 2023.

More surprises are in store if the GOP wins control of the House

Trump vs. DOJ could get messy if the GOP wins control of the House and, as expected, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Jordan, a long-time Trump sycophant, has sent smoke signals about potentially impeaching AG Garland and President Biden. 

With friends like Jordan, Trump’s Revenge Campaign will prosper, and, per usual, Trump wins even when he loses, is impeached or indicted.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill Oct. 20, 2022

Is this a cosmic sign? Is the universe sending a message to American voters? Nov. 8 commences with a grand convergence of political and lunar events. Long ago set in motion and destined to collide is Election Day with a total lunar eclipse, also known as a Blood Moon.

The moon’s “maximum eclipse” occurs at 5:59 a.m. (EST). Thus, as millions of voters turn off their alarms, the Earth moves across the moon, turning it a scary orange-red color. The coincidentally-timed event will unnerve millions of Americans already on edge about impending Election Day chaos. Others will joke that the “man in the moon” is a Republican signaling a victorious red wave.

Aside from the lunar eclipse and a full moon that will induce much election night political howling, there are seven reasons why the midterm elections could be historic with lasting ripple effects. Addressing these reasons, I offer Donald Trump’s favorite go-to phrase, “We’ll see what happens.”

Speaking of the former president, his aura and gravitational pull on the political universe align with the orange Blood Moon, while his Earthly presence directly or indirectly impacts most of the following reasons.

Turnout could be record-breaking

According to U.S. Census Bureau data based on the “percentage of the citizen voting-age population that voted,” the trend line tells the story. Consider the 2010 midterms, when turnout was 45.5 percent but fell to 41.9 percent in 2014. Then in 2018, turnout jumped to 53.4 percent, sparked by President Trump’s polarizing effect on the electorate.

Reports say early voting is robust, and “Midterm Turnout Looks Primed to Reach Historic Levels Again” — the headline of a recent Morning Consult survey. However, which party will benefit from “historic levels” of turnout is unclear.

The polling industry’s credibility is on the line

Polls dominate election cycle reporting, but the electorate views the industry skeptically. Therefore, polling could suffer a significant blow if results differ vastly from final projections in marquee races. Likewise, record turnout could be blamed if modeling of key demographic groups misses the mark.

Women and younger voters’ turnout could skew results

Again, using Census data from the 2018 midterms, 55 percent of eligible women voters cast ballots, up from 43 percent in 2014. And this year, many are energized about abortion, inflation and crime. Younger Americans could also affect close races. In 2018, 36 percent of those aged 18 to 29 voted, compared to 20 percent in 2014. Morning Consult’s survey affirms, “America’s youngest voters, who showed up in record numbers in 2018, say they are just as sure about their plans to vote now as they were then.”

The growth of Hispanic/Latino voters could be epic

According to Pew Research, “Latinos are projected to account for 14.3% of all eligible voters in November 2022, a new high” increasing “from 12.8% in 2018.”

Republicans are confident that Hispanic/Latino voters are trending away from traditionally supporting Democratic candidates. If GOP optimism proves true, coupled with the projected growth of Hispanic/Latino voters, it equals a game-changing data point for the 2024 election cycle.

Midterm mayhem: Hangovers from 2020

Hangovers from the 2020 presidential controversies (real or imagined) could plague midterm results. This week an AP/NORC poll found, “Only about half of Americans have high confidence that votes in the upcoming midterm elections will be counted accurately.”

Feeding that narrative are two notable examples, both Trump-endorsed Republican candidates from Arizona. First, gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was asked during a CNN interview if she would accept the election results. Lake dodged the question three times before saying, “I’m going to win the election, and I will accept that result.”

Second, Republican Senate nominee Blake Masters has claimed his election will be stolen weeks before votes are counted. Trump-taught candidates are following their master’s playbook.

A Hill report headlined “GOP election deniers spark alarm about 2024” framed the problem. An “unnamed GOP strategist” said, “‘The more you call into question an election without ever providing proof, or backing up your findings, the more you make people less inclined to participate in the process.’”

Even if their candidates lose, voters’ belief in the integrity of elections and accepting the results is a foundational hallmark of American democracy. But currently, a majority of Americans believe “democracy is not working well.” The 2022 midterms bear a historical burden that will either restore or decrease election integrity heading into the 2024 presidential cycle, which begins the next day. 

Record-setting campaign spending

Open Secrets, an organization that tracks campaign spending, conservatively estimates that midterm elections spending will top $9.3 billion. By comparison, $7 billion was spent during the 2018 midterms, a jump from $4.7 billion in 2014. Is there a reason why spending is at extreme levels? OpenSecrets Executive Director Sheila Krumholz said, “Spending is surging across the board this midterm cycle, fueling a polarization vortex that shows no signs of slowing.” Sadly, each side believes that if the other side wins, the nation is imperiled and democracy is threatened.

Donald Trump’s domination

Trump’s name is not on the ballot, but his hand-picked acolytes are stand-ins for MAGA Trumpism. Thus, do votes for GOP candidates also count as votes to bring Trump back to Washington?

Furthermore, if Republicans win control of the House, Senate and hotly contested gubernatorial races, expect that Trump will claim copious amounts of credit. As heralded, the former president may announce his decision to seek the 2024 Republican nomination before Thanksgiving.

Then 2023 could be Trump’s year of revenge. Conceivably he will encourage or pressure House Republicans to impeach President Biden (and many need no encouragement).  

All the above beg two questions: First, is there a powerful cosmic meaning to a Blood Moon — lunar eclipse on Election Day? Second, will Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon” be the top trending album on Nov. 8? 


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill: Oct. 6, 2022

Across Florida, Hurricane Ian has upended the life and property of nearly everyone in its path. As recovery begins and fatalities rise, sustained Category Four winds will continuously swirl around Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.). His career will be divided into “before” and “after Ian” — impacting where he makes political landfall.

Hurricane Ian is Ron DeSantis’s Sept. 11, 2001.

Before Ian:

The “Keep Florida Free”-branded “Top Gov”  is a national anti-woke culture warrior. He repeatedly applies the slogans “never back down” and “keep fighting” to anyone and anything that conflicts with his unabashed quest to prove he is Donald Trump’s MAGA heir apparent. Gov. DeSantis is on an easy path to reelection. Raising $172 million indicates all-systems-go for 2024. The DeSantis family believes the current political climate is ripe for his aggressive governing style.

After Ian:

Shred the playbook; everything has changed. The apocalyptic hurricane thrust DeSantis into the role of wartime commander. While Ian attacked, DeSantis swung into action,  channeling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the onset of Russia’s invasion. With that same sleepless look, DeSantis projected a confident, calm and resolute demeanor as he mobilized resources, took charge and maximized his media exposure.

As Mother Nature ravaged Florida, at a press briefing, the governor thanked President Biden for all the federal help, prompting The Hill headline: “Hurricane Ian leads to political whiplash for Ron DeSantis.”

On Wednesday, Biden surveyed the devastation and met with Gov. DeSantis, who steered clear of hugs. (DeSantis is keenly aware of political backlash that beset former Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.) and Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) after they cozied up to President Obama.)  

Hurricane Ian is prompting a gargantuan rebuilding effort estimated at “’well over $100 billion, including uninsured properties, damage to infrastructure, and other cleanup and recovery costs.’” That “over $100 billion” price tag, based on a risk analyst’s report cited by Bloomberg, is comparable to the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild war-torn Europe from 1948 to 1951. The highly successful Marshall Plan cost $13.3 billion, approximately $150 billion in current dollars. And whereas parts of Florida resemble a war zone, a “Florida Marshall Plan” could cost as much and take longer than four years. (After all, this is Florida.) 

The prospect of DeSantis leading a $100 billion rebuilding effort could be his most challenging “After Ian” political dilemma and all-consuming task. Thus, conventional wisdom says the governor can’t run for president and lead “Florida’s Marshall Plan.” No human can do both. Moreover, he can’t go around bashing President Biden because DeSantis needs the Biden administration’s help with rebuilding.

Conversely, DeSantis knows the hurricane showcased his strong leadership skills as he dominated media coverage during the national crisis. (“National” because almost everyone knows someone who lives in the nation’s third most populous state.)

Then, as if on cue, I received an email from “Ready For Ron,” the draft-DeSantis-for-president PAC founded by veteran Republican operative Ed Rollins. The message from co-chair Lillian Rodríguez-Baz read, in part:

“Florida will endure this storm with Governor DeSantis at the helm, but then we need to work to ensure that he carries the same resolute leadership to the Presidency.”

And so begins the “After Ian,” Ready-for-Ron rah-rah — with superhuman “Governor DeSantis at the helm” while running for president.

Furthermore, Ian’s fallout could dog DeSantis before November’s election. The hardest-hit counties are among the state’s “reddest.” In 2020, Trump won Charlotte County with 63 percent of the vote. He won Collier at 62 percent, Lee with 59 and Sarasota at nearly 55 percent. But a report about Ian’s impact on vote-by-mail (very popular in Florida) with destroyed mailboxes and “destruction of polling places” could result in voting irregularities.

Nonetheless, assume DeSantis wins reelection and, around June 2023, jumps into the GOP primary race. Then, count on residents and the media to criticize the governor for “abandoning the state” as he flies around the nation running for president. Also, GOP primary rivals could privately or publicly echo that sentiment. Think about George Marshall of Marshall Plan fame running for president in 1948 at the onset of his plan.

Also problematic for presidential candidate DeSantis will be damaging Category Five winds carrying political fallout from any scandals, mismanagement and corruption. That is inevitable when untold billions of dollars are pumped into Florida. Imagine this scenario: DeSantis is engaged in debates or before a crucial primary when massive rebuilding irregularities are exposed, generating national headlines to which DeSantis must respond.

Indeed, the long rebuilding process will be plagued with vicious fights about stricter codes (especially for low-cost mobile homes) and whether to forgo rebuilding in the most vulnerable places — a future economic and management nightmare for the governor and Florida officials.

Then expect national repercussions after Florida’s demand spikes the cost of building materials and labor, bank pressure from mortgage defaults and the state’s unstable insurance market — in meltdown mode before Ian. All can and likely will lead to negative media coverage as DeSantis seeks the Oval Office.

Potentially, the young governor has three herculean tasks: Managing “Florida’s Marshall Plan,” building a presidential campaign organization and battling Donald Trump.

The former president could also champion the argument that DeSantis is “abandoning Florida” — Trump’s way of undermining the governor for daring to challenge him. Remember that GOP nomination polling shows Trump leading DeSantis by an average of 28 percentage points. And last Friday, former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told CBS News, Donald Trump wants his old job back.”

A myriad of circumstances could force the governor to change his playbook and forgo a 2024 run — although it’s unlikely given his “fight-fight, never back down” approach to politics. Therefore, if DeSantis is easily reelected in November, then sometime in 2023, his “After Ian” presidential pitch could be: “From the White House, I am better positioned to rebuild Florida than from my office in Tallahassee.”  

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.

By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill – Sept. 22, 2022

Are you ready for it? The two-year presidential campaign marathon is at the starting line, juiced on steroids with chaotic, unparalleled circumstances, legal predicaments and scars from 2020. This high-stakes power race stars complex characters with plot lines beyond scriptwriters’ imaginations.

The 2024 presidential election cycle officially begins the day after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. But I’m jumping the gun, predicting that one of the following will be elected or reelected president of the United States: President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.), former President Donald Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.).

You can monitor their chances at PredictIt, the popular online betting market, which asks, “Who will win the 2024 US presidential election?”

Although the numbers continuously fluctuate, Trump, DeSantis and Biden are in a three-way race, ranging from 26 to 23 cents each. Then, lagging behind are Harris and Newsome, tied at 8 cents.

Meanwhile, consider The Hill’s recent headline: “Most Americans don’t want Trump or Biden to run in 2024.” According to the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, “two-thirds of voters surveyed – 67 percent – said that Biden shouldn’t seek another term..” And 57 percent were against another Trump campaign.

The Hill also reported ominous statements from the poll’s co-director Mark Penn: “Americans want a clear change from this president and the last one,” and “There will be a virtual voter revolt if these are the two candidates once again.” 

Remember those foreboding messages as we discuss 2024’s potential drama, first from the Democrats’ perspective. 

During Biden’s “60 Minutes” interview on Sunday, he sent a clear smoke signal of uncertainty. After speaking about his “intention” to stand for reelection, Biden asked, “But is it a firm decision that I run again? That remains to be seen.”

And here is another no-go hint from a campaign management perspective. NBC reported that Biden’s reelection plan will “rely heavily on the resources of the Democratic National Committee and only have a small campaign staff…” Translation: Some Democrats are “unconvinced” Biden is running and only “going through the motions” that “could transfer to a different nominee if he stands down.”

More translation: Biden wants to avoid early “lame duck” status, which could have political and national security implications in these exceedingly perilous times.

The last president to withdraw from reelection was Lyndon Johnson, who made his surprise announcement on March 31 of the 1968 election year. But campaigns are much longer now, and Biden must announce by mid-2023.

The president, who turns 80 in November, subtly appears to be setting the stage for withdrawing from a reelection race, which would result in the drama shifting to Kamala Harris.

But the vice president is not highly regarded, with an average unfavorable rating of 51 percent and 37 percent favorable. Harris is also considered a weak national candidate. She quickly bombed out of the 2020 presidential race, withdrawing in December 2019.  

The Democrats will not easily dislodge an incumbent VP — a woman of color who represents the party’s largest demographics.

In 2020, women represented 52 percent of the electorate. Biden/Harris won women voters 57 percent to Trump’s 42. African American voters were 13 percent of the electorate, and Biden/Harris won 87 percent of them over Trump’s 12 percent. Hispanics represented 13 percent of voters, and Biden/Harris won 65 percent to Trump’s 32.

Indeed, the prospect of a historic “President Harris” could successfully maintain those voter group majorities. She will have tough primary opposition, but never underestimate the advantage and power of incumbency.

So how do challengers respectfully attack VP Harris during a primary or general election when she is one tragic breath away from becoming the early 47th president? Very carefully.

Then there is the question of Biden’s primary endorsement. If the president chooses not to endorse his logical successor, it could prove politically embarrassing and detrimental to both. Gavin Newsom will be watching closely after “undeniably, unequivocally” gearing up for a likely primary fight against Harris — two liberal California natives at war.

Speaking of primary fights, among Republicans, “fight” fails to capture the apocalyptic mega-MAGA battle if Trump and DeSantis are primary opponents.

Regarding the twice-impeached one-term president, a Sept.15 Hill headline speaks volumes: “Trump says he ‘can’t imagine’ being indicted, argues it wouldn’t deter running again.” And if indicted, he hinted at “problems” (Trump-speak for violence). Then on Tuesday, this bombshell Washington Post headline: “Trump lawyers acknowledge Mar-a-Lago probe could lead to indictment.” 

So what could happen first? Attorney General Merrick Garland indicts a former president, or does that former president declare his 2024 candidacy? Just imagine the dangerous optics: Trump facing trial, riling up angry crowds at campaign rallies.

While Trump seeks drama and revenge, he is the clear winner of the RealClearPolitics  GOP nomination poll average — 52 percent to DeSantis’s 23 percent. But that average reflects polls taken before DeSantis flew Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard — endearing the governor to the national MAGA base.

Further aggravating Trump, reportedly, DeSantis’s campaign goal is to win reelection (and bragging rights), exceeding the 3-point margin that Trump won Florida by in 2020. Noticeably and successfully, DeSantis has adopted and perfected Trump’s fighting style in his own policy-wonk kind of way. Undoubtedly, in head-to-head primary debates, these two could fill stadiums.

Ultimately, no matter whether, when or how Trump leaves the primary stage or stays enmeshed while in legal jeopardy, expect the most dramatic campaign in modern history.

Then, if it’s Trump or DeSantis who challenges Harris or Newsom, the 2024 election will be branded MAGA vs. California — the reddest red vs. bluest blue. Those colors are the new “blue vs. gray” — reflecting the most divided the nation has been since the Civil War. Sadly, in 2024, such a conflict can happen again.

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor


Reposted from The Hill – Sept. 9, 2022

The impending shark-attack music from “Jaws” could be the soundtrack for Mark Meadows’s potentially perilous legal entanglements. Meadows served as former President Trump’s final White House chief of staff, from March 31, 2020, to Jan. 20, 2021.

Even one of Meadows’s possible quagmires would test your fortitude, but three simultaneously are blood-pressure-busting.

First, the Georgia problem. Recently The Hill reported, “The prosecutor investigating whether Donald Trump and others illegally tried to influence the 2020 election in Georgia is seeking to compel testimony … including former chief of staff Mark Meadows.” Included is the infamous phone call, which Meadows reportedly set up and participated in, when Trump told Georgia officials that “we need only 11,000 votes.”

Second, Meadows’s extensive post-election involvement enabling Trump’s “Big Lie” that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. In June, Meadows’s silence was deafening when he never renounced the explosive testimony of his former special assistant, Cassidy Hutchinson, who disparaged his inaction during a nationally televised Jan. 6 House committee hearing.

Third, Meadows’s management role when boxes containing classified documents were transferred from the White House to Mar-a-Lago and remained there until authorities took action. This week it was revealed that foreign nuclear secrets were found among the documents. After the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of Trump’s Florida estate, Politico reported, “A person close to Meadows insisted that, ‘All procedures were followed in accordance with guidance.’” Again, Meadows was silent.

While serving Trump, could Meadows have stopped the president from engaging in these allegedly illegal activities?

This week, I posed that question to John Kelly, who served as President Trump’s chief of staff from July 31, 2017, to Jan. 2, 2019. During our phone call, Kelly said:

“A chief of staff must be willing to go to the mat. To say to the president, ‘If you insist on doing this, I will resign, and that alone will cause an explosion in this city. And, I will tell people why I am resigning.’ Meadows could and should have done that but elected not to do the right thing.”

Then Kelly explained how he dealt with Trump: “I could not control him, but I knew how to heavily influence him.” Relating that philosophy to his successors – Mick Mulvaney (who served from Jan. 2019 to March 2020) followed by Meadows – Kelly said, “Both were willing to shrug their shoulders and say, ‘that’s what the president wants, let Trump be Trump.’”

Kelly continued, “Chiefs of staff absolutely have to talk truth to power, saying ‘Boss, you are way off on this, if you do this, you will get impeached or relieved.’ But number one, and the ‘North Star’ for chiefs of staff, is the rule of law. You can’t do anything illegal.”

Speaking of illegal, one historian has described Mark Meadows as “the worst chief of staff in history,” surpassing H.R. Haldeman, the perennial titleholder. As President Nixon’s chief, Haldeman was an enabler and enforcer. He was convicted in 1975 for perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice relating to the Watergate cover-up. Haldeman spent 18 months in prison.

Kelly referenced Haldeman during our discussion, saying, “Trump would tell me, ‘If we do this, I will protect you.’ I said, ‘Look, the only chief of staff in history who broke the law was Haldeman, and he went to jail. I don’t break the law.’”

Given Meadows’s potential legal predicament, one might think that he is making a calculation: If he cooperates, he may avoid jail; if he doesn’t cooperate, he has to hope that Trump will be reelected and he might receive a pardon. But, inevitably, Trump and Meadows seem to be headed for a legal showdown. Will Trump try to make Meadows his fall guy, or will Meadows turn witness-for-the-prosecution first? As CNN recently reported

“In recent months, ‘Trump has been counseled to cut contact with Meadows’ and has ‘complained about Meadows in conversations with other allies,’ said a source.” And “Meadows handed over texts and emails to the National Archives that he had not previously turned over from his time in the administration.”

Moreover, CNN added, “‘It could be a coincidence, but within a week of the August 8 search on Mar-a-Lago, much more started coming in,’ one source familiar with the discussions said.”

Furthermore, on Jan. 19, 2021, Trump named Meadows as one of his designees to the Archives. Thus, CNN also reported:

“While he was at Mar-a-Lago last summer, Meadows talked with Trump about the documents that the Archives was seeking to have returned, sources said. Meadows has continued to work with the Archives in its efforts to recover documents since then, according to the sources.”

Those reports prompted me to ask Kelly how chiefs of staff interface with top-secret documents. He was incredulous, saying, “It is just about impossible for a chief of staff not to know that the president was stuffing boxes with highly classified material” — if, in fact, that is what Trump or his staff did.

Kelly mentioned a secure, numbered system with federal security employees overseeing the protocol. “You have to account for everything in the vault.” Kelly emphasized that these federal employees “would have gone to Meadows; he had to have known that classified docs were missing.”

Kelly suspects any document violations would have been another example of Meadows’s submissive and prevailing “let Trump be Trump” attitude. As Kelly speculated, “Meadows is thinking, ‘If Trump wants to keep this stuff in a box, I don’t care, he is the president.’”

But, Kelly added, “No way on Earth when a president leaves office should he have top secret material with him. No way!”

As he left the chief of staff position, Kelly said he was “trying to find a replacement, an adult in the room, someone who would be willing to close the door and get into a heated conversation.” Instead, Trump declared, “I want a yes man.”

Mulvaney was hired, and that led to Meadows.

Therefore, I was not surprised when John Kelly, a retired four-star Marine general who knows about men under pressure in war and peace, said: “Meadows was a moral coward.”

Myra Adams writes about politics and religion for numerous publications. She is a RealClearPolitics contributor and served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Follow her on Twitter @MyraKAdams.