By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill on Dec. 2, 2021

Last weekend I saw a boat flying an American flag alongside a “Trump 2024 – Save America Again” banner replicating the infamous “Trump 2020 – Make America Great Again” flag. “Infamous” because those were the “battle flags” carried by Trump supporters as they stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Upon seeing my first Trump 2024 banner, I was disgusted and partially blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for three reasons.

First, some of his actions or inactions between Nov. 7, 2020, and Feb. 13, 2021, directly or indirectly threaten our democratic system of government and jeopardize the credibility of forthcoming national elections. 

Second, Sen. McConnell made one of the greatest political miscalculations in modern history when he told GOP senators that their decision about whether to convict an impeached Donald Trump for the second time was a “vote of conscience.”

Third, McConnell failed to initiate legislation that would have barred Trump from holding future elective office. 

Those reasons make me wonder, “Does Mitch McConnell have any regrets?” and “What does Mitch think when he sees growing number of 2024 Trump banners and hats?” 

These are reasonable questions to ask, since 13 months after losing reelection, Trump is still the undisputed king of the Republican Party and daily teases another presidential run when McConnell could have defanged the Trump tiger in February.

Instead, Trump continues to rule through fear and intimidation after rising from the ashes of Jan. 6. Resurrected by power derived from cult-like followers, the former president is intervening in the 2022 midterm’s primary process by backing loyalist candidates even against incumbents — potentially jeopardizing the GOP’s chances of winning back the Senate.

Characteristically, Trump conveniently forgets McConnell’s critical role during two impeachments that twice saved him from Senate conviction. And how McConnell provided Trump with bragging rights after his Senate confirmed a record number of judges, including three on the Supreme Court. Also, McConnell pushed through Trump’s first legislative victory, a tax cut bill in 2017, and 2018’s criminal justice reform.

But all that is past. Instead, Trump delights in regularly berating McConnell, using childish names such as “Broken Old Crow,” “stupid” and “fool,” accusing him of incompetence and questioning his legislative voting decisions.

Worse, in April, while addressing GOP donors, Trump called McConnell a “stone-cold loser” and “a dumb son of a b_ _ch.” And on the Fox Business Channel, Trump said, “the party needs new leadership in the Senate.”

Back to the question, “Does McConnell have any regrets?” Let’s review actions and statements that earned him Trump’s ire. 

On Nov. 7, 2020, four days after the election, major news outlets projected that Joe Biden had defeated the incumbent president. However, then-Senate Majority Leader McConnell silently waited until Dec. 15  — the day after Biden’s win was certified by each state’s Electoral College – to acknowledge and congratulate the Biden-Harris ticket. Also, this was reportedly the last day Trump and McConnell spoke.

During those 39 days of McConnell’s silence, the president was in media overdrive, promulgating the “big lie” that undermined the integrity of our presidential elections.

McConnell chose not to counter Team Trump’s election falsehoods that ultimately resulted in the Jan. 6 attack on Capitol Hill when the Electoral College votes were ceremoniously certified before a joint session of Congress presided over by Vice President Mike Pence.

At 10 p.m. on Jan. 6, hours after the violent mob was removed from the Capitol, Leader McConnell addressed a reconvened joint session of Congress, saying, “This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.” He ended his short speech by stating, “And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.” The moment Trump heard those words is likely when he moved McConnell’s name to the top of his enemies list.

After the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” it is likely that McConnell never thought Trump would rise again from the ashes. That was evidenced by McConnell’s powerful Feb. 13 Senate acquittal speech, given after he, along with nine other Republican senators, voted “no”  — ensuring the two-thirds Senate votes needed to convict an impeached president would fall short.     

“American citizens attacked their own government,” said McConnell, “they used terrorism to try to stop a specific piece of democratic business they did not like.” But, he continued, “They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

Indeed, McConnell could have used those words to make a strong case for convicting Trump, considering that on Jan. 6 he said it was a “failed insurrection.” 

As a result, the power of impeachment uniquely vested in the legislative branch to check the co-equal executive branch had essentially been declared null and void by Sen. Mitch McConnell’s leadership or lack thereof on Feb. 13, 2021. 

In retrospect, one could ask: Was McConnell afraid of leading the Senate in impeaching, convicting and then potentially barring from holding office a president for the first time in U.S. history? 

Perhaps, and remember how McConnell conveniently timed the Senate trial to occur after Biden’s inauguration, presumably to use the “we can’t convict a former president” card. And during the trial, he did just that, saying, “Article II, Section 4 must have force. It tells us the President, Vice President, and civil officers may be impeached and convicted. Donald Trump is no longer the president.”

But he might be again.

In preparation, Trump loyalists are positioning allies in local and state election offices to prevent future “fraudulent” outcomes. Moreover, numerous controversial Trump-inspired voting laws have been passed throughout the nation that many Democrats believe are uncalled for, restrictive and discriminatory.

Meanwhile, Trump’s primary focus and fundraising efforts are to avenge his 2020 loss, turn the “big lie” into truth and reconfigure Jan. 6 into a newfangled Patriot’s Day.

Any regrets, Sen. McConnell? If not, Amazon is selling Trump 2024 flags for $9.44 with free delivery that will be “in stock soon.”

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.

TAGS 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2020 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION MITCH MCCONNELL DONALD TRUMP MIKE PENCE JOE BIDEN


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Nov. 18, 2021

These “war games” have an evolving high-stakes dramatic plot with larger-than-life characters that could have sprung from the minds of Hollywood scriptwriters. We kick off “season one” with the protagonist’s backstory.

Donald J. Trump is a 75-year-old one-term, twice-impeached former U.S. president who lost the popular vote in 2016 and 2020. But his fragile (some say narcissistic) psyche prevents him from admitting his reelection loss to President Biden, whom Trump considers weak, inferior and mentally challenged.

“Loss” is a trigger word since losing is a nonexistent concept in the mindset of the former president. Thus, to compensate and rationalize Trump’s official reelection loss, he and his most loyal supporters repeatedly say the election was stolen, which became known as the “Big Lie.”

Then, on Jan. 6, 2021, the Big Lie came to life when Trump inspired a group of his followers to “stop the steal.” Currently, congressional leaders are trying to determine the exact role Trump played when some of his followers attacked the U.S. Capitol. As a result, Trump was quickly impeached for a second time by the House of Representatives on Jan. 13. But the Senate acquitted him on Feb. 13, and Trump was not barred from holding public office.

Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, Trump started flirting with avenging his stolen “victory” — continuing to raise mega-millions from GOP voters while maintaining his status as the unofficial leader of the Republican Party. Last month a Quinnipiac University survey found that 78 percent of Republicans polled thought Trump should run again, but 94 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents disagreed.

Trump also faces a myriad of legal challenges stemming from charges against his business empire, his conduct after the 2020 election and executive privilege fights with Congress regarding the events of Jan. 6.

“Season one” concludes with Trump’s recent interview on Fox News in which he said he’d made his decision about running again and, “I think a lot of people will be very happy … probably will announce that after the midterms.”

“Season two” picks up with Trump’s antagonist — Florida’s popular Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — who channels Trump’s “win at all costs” fighting spirit. He is an ambitious 43-year-old, Yale- and Harvard-educated, Bronze Star-awarded Naval Reserve officer who hears echoes of “Hail to the Chief.”

Although the governor is running for what could be a hard-fought 2022 reelection, DeSantis travels the nation raising millions of dollars, confirming his status as the rising GOP star most likely to end all the Trump-era drama.

But DeSantis owes his title to Trump. When initially gearing up for the August 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary, DeSantis was an unknown northeast Florida congressman. That changed after he caught Trump’s eye on Fox News and received his early surprise endorsement on Dec. 22, 2017. Reciprocating the Trump love, DeSantis and his family starred in a cringe-worthy TV spot.

Three years later, the commercial reflects what Trump said in June on Fox Business, “I was at the beginning of Ron. I was the first one to endorse him when he came out as a congressman that a lot of people didn’t know. My endorsement helped him tremendously.”

In the 2018 election, DeSantis squeaked out a 0.4 percent margin of victory but now basks in the national spotlight — a potential threat to Trump’s all-consuming desire to avenge his 2020 loss with a 2024 win. Of course, Trump-world is ready to pounce: “Given that Ron DeSantis owes both his nomination and election as governor to Donald Trump, I don’t think he should now use Florida as a steppingstone to a 2024 challenge to the former president,” warned Roger Stone in an email responding to my question about the DeSantis-Trump conflict.

Note that Trump pardoned Stone shortly before he left office, perhaps accounting for Stone’s recent statement that DeSantis should pledge not to run for president in 2024 if reelected in 2022.

Then on Nov. 12, Politico reported that Trump is “souring on DeSantis” because the governor “still hasn’t joined the other 2024 hopefuls in pronouncing that he won’t run for president if Trump runs.”

Surely DeSantis wants to avoid a higher ranking on Trump’s enemies list, but it’s doubtful that the governor will acquiesce. Yet, one assumes the governor will want to campaign with the former president in his adopted home state.

Conversely, Trump risks helping DeSantis win reelection by a wide margin, which would propel the governor into a primary fight for the 2024 GOP nomination that Trump wants handed to him.

So expect early battlelines to form between the GOP’s past and future in late February at CPAC in Orlando, Fla. For example, will CPAC event Chairman Matt Schlapp choose Trump or DeSantis as the keynote speaker? After all, DeSantis is the host state governor on the 2022 ballot.

I posed that question to Schlapp, who emailed, “Stay tuned on speaker announcements for CPAC in Florida. All the top speakers will be there.” Yes, but in what pecking order? (Schlapp wisely avoided answering.) But he added, “Gov DeSantis should stay focused on Florida, where he is showing America what a smart, respectful governor can do to combat socialism from Washington. Everyone should focus on 2022.”

But the media will focus on who wins the 2024 GOP presidential nomination straw poll. “Season three” of the Trump vs. DeSantis war games begins at CPAC 2022.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill: Nov. 12, 2021

The Democrats have a 2024 conundrum, with heir apparent Vice President Harris presenting a maze of questions and complications. Let’s start with the foundational problem: her boss, President Biden.

A USA Today-Suffolk University poll conducted last week had Biden’s job approval rating dipping to 38 percent, with 59 percent disapproving. Also, 64 percent of the registered voters surveyed opposed Biden running for reelection, including 28 percent of Democrats.

Furthermore, a mid-October NPR-Marist poll revealed that 44 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents thought “someone else” besides Biden would have the best chance of winning the presidency.

Maybe now Biden is rethinking his March 25 statement: “My plan is to run for reelection, that’s my expectation.” After all, Biden’s “expectation” might be thwarted by the growing perception that he is a weak leader not up to the task of governing and shaken by the shellacking Democrats received in last week’s elections.

Democratic strategists dream of a turnaround after a potential string of legislative victories. But with inflation soaring, their nightmare is the 2022 midterm elections warning of a red tidal wave, with Republicans likely to win control of the House and perhaps the Senate.

And the wave could crush Harris if she stars in a potential Republican attack ad. In the final days of the tight Virginia gubernatorial race, while campaigning with Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, Harris displayed a stunning lack of political savvy when she said, “What happens in Virginia will, in large part, determine what happens in 2022, 2024 and on.”

Harris violated a cardinal political rule — never publicly state the future meaning of a race that your candidate could lose — and her candidate was walloped.

If the midterms turn out to be a Democratic repudiation, stick a fork in Joe Biden’s presidency and expect the following questions to occupy copious amounts of cable bandwidth.

1) When will Biden announce that he is not running for reelection?

Certainly earlier than President Lyndon Baines Johnson when he announced his decision not to seek a second term on March 31, 1968 — only eight months from Election Day.

Herein lies the dilemma: The earlier Biden announces his lame-duck status, the more his power decreases, reflecting the aura of a failed presidency. So, naturally, attention then shifts to the Democrats’ presidential horse race. But more consequential is the national security perspective if enemies think a “defeated” Biden signals an opportune time for aggression.

Conversely, the longer Biden delays his announcement, the more those seeking the nomination will be handicapped. Nearly two years are needed for an organizational build-up to raise the megamillions of dollars required to wage a successful presidential primary campaign.

For example, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) announced his 2008 presidential campaign on Feb. 10, 2007, early in the election cycle.

Then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced her 2020 presidential aspirations on Jan. 21, 2019. But she quickly flamed out and withdrew on Dec. 3, 2019.

2) Will Harris pressure Biden to announce his 2024 plans early? Then she could begin acting like a president-in-waiting while potentially keeping her primary opponents at bay.

3) If Biden announces that he will be a one-term president, when will he endorse Harris as his successor? Or will Biden choose to mimic Obama in 2020? Remember, Obama held off endorsing his former vice president until April 14, after Biden had clinched the nomination — most likely to avoid embarrassment.

But will Harris even want Biden’s endorsement if his job approval rating is below 40 percent? In that case, will she seek to separate herself from him? Any of these scenarios will be an awkward, clumsy dance between Joe and Kamala.

4) At the heart of the Harris 2024 conundrum are her consistently dismal job approval ratings — the latest at 28 percent with 51 percent disapproving. And Harris’s RealClearPolitics average favorable rating is 40 percent with 51 percent unfavorable.

So what if in early 2023 her ratings are still low, and general election match-up polls show her losing to most or all potential GOP opponents? How then do Democratic presidential candidates wage a primary campaign to defeat the incumbent vice president who is both the first woman and first racial minority to hold that office?

5) Will Democrats elect Harris as their nominee because it’s “her turn”? Historically, the “it’s their turn” strategy does not end well for either party. (See Clinton, Hillary 2016.) White House winners are usually charismatic leaders with their fingers on the nation’s pulse, and Harris falls short on both. President Biden was a notable exception. He was hardly charismatic but fit the bill when Americans sought a “no drama return to normalcy” after four years of President Trump.

6) What if in 2024 Harris is the incumbent president either through an unspeakable event or because Biden resigns for “health reasons” to give Harris an electoral advantage? Anything can happen between now and 2024.

7) Will Republicans support Harris’s candidacy by sending her money and forming pro-Harris groups as a ruse to help her win the 2024 nomination? “Yes” is my guess.

Finally, it appears the American people are just not that into Harris. She rubs many voters the wrong way — branded as an uninspiring leftist and weak leader — although she’s credited with a historical gender and race breakthrough.

Now, imagine a 2024 election between Kamala Harris and Donald Trump. It would be MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) with an unpopular sharp-tongued incumbent female vice president taking on a twice-impeached former president with authoritarian tendencies avenging his 2020 defeat. Our nation deserves better.

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.

TAGS: KAMALA HARRIS JOE BIDEN TERRY MCAULIFFE DONALD TRUMP BARACK OBAMA JOE BIDEN 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES PRESIDENCY OF JOE BIDEN 2024 CAMPAIGN


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill: Oct. 28, 2021

At Reagan National Airport, I saw a newsstand selling t-shirts with Donald Trump asking, “Do you miss me yet?” But how can we miss him if he never went away?

The 45th president vacated the White House but not the news cycle, and Republicans want more. Last week, a Hill-HarrisX poll found 77 percent of GOP voters support a Trump 2024 run, as did a Quinnipiac poll, reporting 78 percent support.

Although 2024 is three years away, it appears that Trump has claimed the Republican presidential nomination unless derailed by a severe health, legal or political crisis worse than two impeachments.

“If Trump runs again, he is essentially the incumbent,” Matt Schlapp, the influential chairman of the annual CPAC conference, told me in a recent interview. Then this week, Trump released a statement quoting GOP pollster John McLaughlin, who says, “Trump would win in a landslide right now. He would beat either Biden or Harris. He’s ahead of Harris 49 to 46 in the poll.”

Trump topping the 2024 GOP ticket likely means replacing former Vice President Mike Pence. Why? On Jan.12, the New York Times confirmed a terse exchange summarizing their schism. The conversation occurred on Jan. 6, before Pence presided over the constitutionally mandated joint session of Congress certifying the states’ Electoral College votes. After Pence refused the president’s demands to overturn the election results, Trump allegedly said: “You can either go down in history as a patriot, or you can go down in history as a pu–y.”

If Trump’s stars align enough to select a new running mate, one can surmise that his first choice would be a clone of himself. But since science has yet to offer that political option, Trump’s favorite off-spring might suffice. Thus, expect endless punditry and comedy about why daughter Ivanka Trump should be included or excluded from the VP shortlist.

More constructive than long lists of specific names this early in the 2024 cycle are questions and answers that complicate Trump’s search for a Number Two.

First, any prospective VP should examine the post-election conflict between Trump and Pence, asking themselves: “On Jan. 6, would I have acquiesced to Trump’s demands or acted like Pence in accordance with the VP’s constitutional role?” Inevitably, candidates must be prepared for that question with the “correct” answer a litmus test for selection.

Second, and related: “If, as vice president, Trump demanded that I engage in what is widely considered to be a constitutionally illegal act, how would I respond?”

Third, “What if before Trump selects me as his VP nominee, he demands that I publicly disavow all disparaging press statements attributed to me concerning him or his actions relating to the 2020 election, impeachment or the events of Jan. 6. Would I comply?”

Conversely, what follows is a list of questions from Trump’s perspective:

Would this candidate be 100 percent loyal to me during a crisis?

Will they outshine me in the media?

Will they always put me first or focus on positioning themselves to be president?  

How physically attractive is this candidate?

How well would they defend me on television?

How does this candidate enhance my chances of winning?

Do I personally like and respect this candidate?

Is this person “strong” enough to be my VP?

Would they resent and conflict with family members in senior White House roles?

Is this candidate qualified to be president and carry forth my agenda?

Answers to all questions from both perspectives could be tricky, and why my Trump VP shortlist offers only two names — coincidentally, both from South Carolina.

In first place is Nikki Haley, twice-elected governor before joining the Trump administration as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Then in 2019, rumors swirled that Trump was considering replacing Pence with Haley on the 2020 ticket to help attract more women voters.

Trump and Haley have a complicated up-and-down relationship. Most notably, her February bombshell Politico interview signaled she was separating from the former president and positioning herself to lead a post-Trump GOP. But in April, Haley inched back, saying, “I would not run if President Trump ran, and I would talk to him about it.”

Then, this month, she switched again, stating her decision to run would not be dependent on Trump. Obviously, Haley and Trump would need relationship counseling before joining forces, but she is a strong, qualified woman and could be an asset to Trump.

In second place is Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only African American Republican senator. Scott is running for reelection, raising millions of dollars, and back in March, Trump heartily endorsed him. Scott endeared himself to the former president during a Fox News appearance on Feb. 8. While discussing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the senator said, “The one person I don’t blame is President Trump.”

In 2019, Scott announced that his 2022 reelection bid would be his “last race,” which translated from Washington speak means “ripe for higher office.”

And why is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis absent from my shortlist? For starters, DeSantis is not a “number-two” kind of guy. But more serious, Article II of the U.S. Constitution presents an Electoral College voting problem when both candidates on the presidential ticket are from the same state.

Ultimately, anyone who agrees to be Trump’s running mate enters a minefield and should enroll in the Mike Pence School of Patience and Constitutional Law.

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 – RealClearPolitics contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics Oct. 21, 2021

Question: How did a campaign rally near Richmond, Va., attended by approximately 450 people, generate nearly a week’s worth of national media attention and potentially impact a closely watched gubernatorial race?

Answer: The Oct. 13 rally in the town of Glen Allen had offered MAGA  political red meat starring Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. They energized Trump-loyal voters about Virginia’s Nov. 2 bellwether election between Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The candidates are in a statistical dead heat with the outcome having implications for the 2022 midterm elections.

But capturing most of the press attention was the flag used at the gathering’s Pledge of Allegiance, a banner the emcee told the audience had been “carried at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on Jan. 6.”

Who had the clout to sponsor and organize this convergence of simmering national hot-button issues and featuring the two leading MAGA provocateurs —  causing such a media uproar?

The answer is John Fredericks, a central Virginia radio talk-show host who owns and operates five stations. He bills himself as a “conservative talk radio host, media guru, and patriotic voice for America.”

Having known John since 2011, I wrote last year about his growing influence as a longtime Trump cheerleader and station owner. Thus, I was not surprised to hear that he hosted the newsmaking rally; this week, I emailed him several questions about it.

Topic A was the controversial Pledge of Allegiance to the Jan. 6 flag, which McAuliffe had been quick to denounce. John replied with a viewpoint that differed substantially from the event video, writing that he “stands by” the following statement from emcee Martha Boneta: “The American Flag at last night’s rally was in a bus tour and was never at a rally or never near the Capitol on January 6. Anyone saying anything differently is LYING. Terry McAuliffe is a stone-cold liar — desperate because he is losing — and he is LYING about the American Flag, just like he lies about his dismal record.”

I responded, “But Martha clearly said the flag was ‘carried” at Trump’s Jan. 6 rally.’ ”

After several email volleys, John called. He was agitated about the controversy and admitted that Martha misspoke at his Oct. 13 event. Referring to the U.S. Capitol protest and Trump’s rally that preceded it, he said, “The truth is that the flag was not at any rally, ever.”

Nonetheless, Glenn Youngkin — who did not attend the Glen Allen rally — had felt the media heat. The day after the event, he issued a statement:

“It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6. As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6 was sickening and wrong.”

Youngkin is a successful businessman who has never held elective office. However, he has yet to invite Trump to join him on the campaign trail even though the former president heartily endorsed Youngkin when Trump phoned in to address the rally.

McAuliffe turned Trump’s “gift” endorsement into a TV spot.  Previously, while hammering his anti-Trump theme, McAuliffe had sent an email blast with the subject line: “Terry McAuliffe Needs You to Stop Trumpism in Virginia.”

Overall, Fredericks was pleased with the media attention his rally generated under the invitation to “Take Back Virginia” — even though the national press gleefully reported that the Republican gubernatorial nominee wasn’t present.

“This event was never about Glenn Youngkin — he didn’t need to attend. This was our event about rallying the Trump base who did not show up in Virginia in 2017, 2018, or 2019. They need to show up in 2021 to win,” John wrote in an email.

Some speakers, such as state Sen. Amanda Chase, had warned earlier on John’s show, “I know how they’re stealing elections, and we’re not gonna let that happen this year.”

Rally attendees also heard the usual repeated claims that Trump won in 2020 (including by the former president himself), while Bannon predicted that Trump would return to the White House in 2024. In fact, the latest Quinnipiac poll found 78% of Republicans want him to run again.

Bannon — a big name draw at the rally — is a business associate of Fredericks, whose radio network founded and hosts his popular show, “War Room.” Since that program often makes news, I asked John about its success.

“Steve Bannon’s War Room is the most-watched and listened to live broadcast in America today,” he replied. “His total audience has surpassed 100 million downloads worldwide. I had the opportunity to be the founder of Steve’s War Room show two years ago. I was Trump’s chairman of his Virginia campaigns in 2016 and 2020 and got to know [Bannon] when he was chairman of the Trump campaign in 2016. He inspired me.”

On Thursday, Bannon was found in criminal contempt of Congress by a vote of 229-202. He had refused to comply with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack — guaranteeing even higher ratings and more downloads as “War Room” wages war over that legal battle. 

How did Fredericks’ once fledging talk-radio career pull him into the orbit of two mega-MAGA figures?

The trajectory started on June 1, 2015, when Fredericks predicted on air that Donald Trump would be the 45th president of the United States. Then, two weeks later, Trump famously descended that gold escalator, launching his campaign and changing America’s political landscape.

Fredericks had, and continues to have, the former president on his show. And, as mentioned earlier, he held leadership roles in Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns. Doing so, Fredericks broke new ground as a regional media figure who openly engages in high-level partisan politics outside of the studio.

But sometimes, Trump does not make life easy for even his most ardent supporters. For example, on the day of Glen Allen rally, Trump released the following controversial statement:

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24. It is the single most important thing for Republicans to do.”

In John’s email to me, he wrote what sounded like pushback against that sentiment, at least as it pertains to Virginia’s election on Nov. 2: “We want our MAGA supporters to turn out in record numbers to vote and to get involved as poll watchers, election officials, door knockers, phone callers, and everything else they can do to help Youngkin win in Virginia.”

He also reiterated his support for the GOP candidate:

“Glenn Youngkin is generating tremendous excitement in our Trump base because he is organizing the greatest game-day election integrity operation in history. This is also being coordinated with the RNC, and it will ensure a free and fair election where every legitimate and legal vote is counted, and illegal votes are not counted. This voter integrity model will serve as a state-by-state blueprint for the midterms.”

Then I asked, “If Youngkin loses to McAuliffe, does that mean the election was stolen?”

“It depends on what the Glenn Youngkin campaign and the RNC says. Let’s see what happens — Youngkin has done everything humanly possible to ensure that the election is not stolen,” he replied.

John Fredericks is a unique talk show talent/media owner/activist who believes that Trumpism will outlast Trump. “It’s a movement, not a personality,” he explained. “It will endure with new leaders who authentically embrace the core tenets of America First and put America’s workers first.”

When I asked John about his own future, he insisted that he “outworks everyone,” provides “excellent return on investment to his advertisers,” and “plans for future station acquisition.”

“My audience,” he continued, “is growing exponentially because good, bad or ugly, I tell the truth and the truth will set you free. I am the Godzilla of Truth in America.”


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Oct. 14, 2021

Recently, I asked a Trump-supporting friend from Georgia if he thought our nation was doomed with President Biden at the helm. Using a Titanic analogy, he answered, “We’ve already hit the iceberg, and now we’re running for the lifeboats.” Then he added, “I would take Trump back in office five times over Biden,” but admitted, “I personally don’t like Trump and prefer he step aside for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.”

Based on my friend’s demographic profile, I consider him a one-person focus group reacting to layers of crises. And his pessimism is in line with new polling. The president’s 44 percent job approval rating average indicates more than just that Trump supporters are losing hope in Biden’s ability to right the ship of state.

Nonetheless, for anti-Trump and independent voters souring on Biden, remember the pendulum-swinging reason you voted for him: He was not Donald Trump. And that was before January’s violent attack and second impeachment on Capitol Hill, which made “boring Biden” even more appreciated after all the authoritative strong-man drama.

However, Biden following Trump into the White House is emblematic of a pervasive, overarching national problem that rarely makes headlines yet impacts them all — the United States has a presidential leadership crisis. 

When voters see two names at the top of the presidential ticket every four years, they shake their heads and ask: “Why can’t we do better than these two?” Raise your hand if you can relate.

Unfortunately, due to what I call a “compounded pendulum effect,” our presidential leadership crisis is on a downward swinging spiral. Although the pendulum has always swung from one president to the next, the 24/7 media and internet-era has increased polarization and intensified severity.

For example, in January 2009, George W. Bush left office with a 29 percent job approval rating average. That helps explain why the inexperienced Barack Obama was elected amid fervor for hope and change.

Then Obama in 2016, plagued by a perception of weak leadership, backed the unlikable but experienced Hillary Clinton with her truthful but unstated campaign message — “it’s my turn to be president.” But her dreams were unexpectedly thwarted by a burger n’ fries eating “everyman” celebrity billionaire named Donald J. Trump. He was the political and intellectual polar opposite of both Clinton and Obama with his rally message of “Make America Great Again” and “build the wall!” on repeat play.

That brings us to the 2020 election in the uber-polarized Divided States of America. An era in which everyone only watches and reads news and information they agree with and share through their phones on social media. That climate propelled the COVID-pandemic-election pendulum to swing from Trump to an “adult” place-holder president whose go-to leadership line is “C’mon man.” 

The Biden vs. Trump choice – among the worst “hold your nose” moments in American history – motivated a record turnout of 155 million voters.

Thus, nine months into his term, is anyone surprised that President Biden – who will celebrate his 79th birthday in November – is turning out to be among our weakest presidents? During his 36 years as a U.S. senator, followed by eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden was never a stand-out leader. And, today, if not for Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) endorsement in the 2020 South Carolina presidential primary, Joe Biden would be painting with Hunter Biden at his Delaware beach house.

Looking ahead to 2024, we have the makings of potentially the greatest modern presidential leadership crisis at the most perilous time. Pay close attention to China’s aggressive military moves toward Taiwan. Chinese communist leaders have set their sights on taking back the island and controlling the world’s leading manufacturer of semiconductor chips. That means the U.S. economy could be brought to its knees since the American share of global chip manufacturing capacity has “fallen to 12 percent,” according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. It is only a matter of time until this Taiwan/China conflict comes to a head, and practically every item you touch and depend on is impacted.

Is there a U.S. leader now or on the horizon who could navigate our nation through such a global economic catastrophe? Names, please.

he very definition of a leadership crisis would be if the American people had to choose between Biden and Trump in 2024. Could the pendulum swing from Trump to Biden back to Trump? Hill pundits argue how Biden’s “train-wreck” could elect Trump 2.0  — resulting in authoritarian rule with no guardrails.

Even Biden’s ever-shrinking, nearly-forgotten vice president, Kamala Harris, has an underwater job approval rating of 42 percent, with 51 percent unfavorable.

Could she win Biden’s second term if he were to step down? Can you imagine a Harris vs. Trump race? The winner would take our nation from leadership crisis to leadership apocalypse.

Now ask yourself two big-picture questions: Is America ungovernable and incapable of being led? How can anyone lead when half the population refuses to follow?

Our enemies know the answers.

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.

TAGS: 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN DONALD J. TRUMP JOE BIDEN KAMALA HARRIS HILLARY CLINTON DONALD TRUMP BARACK OBAMA RON DESANTIS PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION JOE BIDEN PRESIDENCY AMERICAN LEADERSHIP


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Sept. 30, 2021

When Time magazine’s Feb.18, 2013 cover featured then-41-year-old Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the declarative headline read: “The Republican Savior: How Marco Rubio became the new voice of the GOP.”

That headline – with a photo showcasing Rubio’s boyish yet statesman-like look – cast him as the Republican Party leader for a new generation. Moreover, Rubio’s name was phonetically linked to “rising-young-star” while he led the GOP’s charge on immigration reform.

Strategists and pundits discussed whether Rubio was the party’s Hispanic answer to President Obama. After all, the same week Rubio appeared on Time’s cover, he gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address. (Mostly remembered for his ill-timed gulp of water followed by ridicule.)

Fast forward eight years to last week’s Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey, in which Rubio’s “new voice” and “Republican Savior” monikers have not aged well. At age 50, he languishes at the bottom of his party’s 2024 presidential prospects list — supported by just 3 percent of Republican voters.

So, what happened to Marco Rubio, the GOP’s “new leader for the next generation”?

No slouch by any standard, he is a respected senior senator from the nation’s third most populous state and known for foreign policy expertise. In 2022, he will vie for his third term and likely will prevail against Rep. Val Demings — but only after a tough, expensive fight. How expensive? In June, a FOX News headline read: “Rubio-Demings 2022 showdown could become most expensive Senate race ever.” That means Democrats think Rubio is beatable, and in politics, perception is reality.

What contributed to his “downfall”? One argument is that Rubio peaked too early and prematurely reacted to media hype. Then in 2015 – beginning in the fourth year of his first six-year term – Rubio contracted a severe case of “Potomac Fever,” a contagious yet common Senate disease. The fever deluded him into thinking he could be Obama’s successor.

Predictably, Rubio struggled throughout the 2016 primary season and dropped out on March 15, after winning only 27 percent of Florida primary voters compared to 46 percent for Donald Trump. 

Rubio’s embarrassing and career-altering campaign never gained traction. It was plagued by bad political timing and conflict with Trump, who effectively reduced Rubio to “Little Marco” — permanently popping his “Republican Savior” balloon.

Humiliated by his presidential run, on March 17, 2016, Rubio declared, “I’m not running for re-election to the Senate.” Nevertheless, two days before the June 24 deadline, he filed for reelection, saying, “I changed my mind.”

Ironically one of the five primary candidates fighting for Rubio’s then-open seat was a little-known, young, two-term congressman from the Daytona Beach area named Ron DeSantis. He promptly went back to his 6th District and won reelection but whet his appetite for statewide office.

In November 2016, Rubio retained his Senate seat with only 52 percent of the vote against a lackluster Democrat named Patrick Murphy. Trump, at the top of the ticket, won the state by only 1.2 percentage points.

As we head into the 2022 election cycle, Rubio has carved out a lane of national and Senate respectability. But the early momentum from his 2013 glory days is lost because the Republican Party and Tea Party wing that first elected him in 2010 has radically changed. Rubio belongs to the Trumplican Party now but is not considered a true MAGA-hat-wearing believer.

Politically speaking, the two-term senator is smothered by Gov. DeSantis, who is smothered by former President Trump. Loyalty to Trump is the only standard that seems to matter. And Trumplicans, especially those in Florida, know the difference between true believers and those who pretend because they have no choice.

Rubio’s last chapter hasn’t been written. Born in 1971, he could be a factor in presidential cycles for at least two more decades. Rubio could be perceived as a moderate, compromise candidate when the Trump era ends. Moreover, serving for decades, he could become a “lion of the Senate” — even majority leader someday.

Then perhaps when Rubio is in his late 60s, some young GOP presidential candidate might pluck him from the Senate and choose him to be his running mate — adding gravitas and foreign policy experience to a national winning ticket.  

In the end, Rubio is a man of great faith who often tweets Bible verses. And this once so-called “Republican Savior” knows that His Savior was humiliated and defeated by his people, but ultimately resurrected.

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.TAGS 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MARCO RUBIO RON DESANTIS DONALD J. TRUMP PATRICK MURPHY DONALD TRUMP BARACK OBAMA VAL DEMINGS FLORIDA REPUBLICANS


By Myra Adams – RealClearPolitics contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept 25, 2021

If the 2022 midterm elections had an official soundtrack, it would be the ominous music from the 1975 movie “Jaws.”  

Although the election is 13 months away, mounting intensity feels like great white sharks are circling our national boat with a convergence of two powerful, never-before-seen political forces. Both forces are hangovers from the 2020 election with the potential to make the 2022 midterms the most tumultuous in modern American history.

The first force is the growing lack of voter confidence in our election system. Second, is the looming presence of Donald J. Trump, a one-term, twice-impeached human lightning rod who is still the de facto leader of the Republican Party. No former president in history has ever injected himself into the midterms to this degree, and certainly not in the primary process.

Curious about Matt Schlapp’s take on these two forces, I reached out to the high-profile chairman of the American Conservative Union. An ardent Trump supporter, Schlapp is one of the nation’s most influential non-office-holding Republicans and, as host of CPAC, he leads a mighty MAGA army.

It’s clear that he, like the titular head of that army, has not really accepted the 2020 voting results.

“Having a big question mark over a presidential election is bad for democracy,” Schlapp said. “We should know who won. And one of the ways we will know is if we all follow the same rules. We have to get back to voting the way we did in 2016. Will the Democrats try to pull the same shenanigans next year? I do know this: The American people are outraged over the Democratic agenda, and if we vote fairly, they are going to get shellacked.”

There is a history of new presidents getting “shellacked” in their first midterm election, with their party losing control of the House, Senate, or both. In 2010, President Obama used “shellacking” to describe his first, monumental midterm defeat when Republicans won control of the House with a net gain of 63 seats — a number not achieved since 1948. Surely, then-Vice President Joe Biden remembers that repudiation.

Perhaps the most stunning midterm defeat was Bill Clinton’s in 1994. Forty-two years had elapsed since Republicans had won complete control of Capitol Hill. The architect of that remarkable victory netting the GOP 54 House and eight Senate seats was Newt Gingrich, who ascended to speaker of the House.

I emailed Gingrich, asking if 2022 had the makings of a GOP victory on par with 1994.

“If Republicans can discipline themselves to consistently describe Democrats as ‘big government socialists’ and the $3.5 trillion spending and $3 trillion tax increase as big government socialist bills — it is, after all, Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill — I think we can win a massive victory in both the House and Senate next year,” Gingrich answered.

I also asked Schlapp to weigh in on the prospects of a 1994-scale victory. He happily took the bait.

“Guaranteed!” said. “Unless we don’t have the courage to stand up against the cheating. If not, then it will be more mixed. If the left understands that we are going to go to the barricades to make sure that the cheating is exposed, then I think their agenda will be rejected.”

Then, after outlining Biden’s liberal-left agenda, Schlapp declared, “When people understand the policies of socialism, they reject it in this country.”

Regarding Trump, the former president’s engagement in the midterms is a force to be reckoned with for both parties. I asked Schlapp if Trump’s involvement was a winning  strategy for the GOP.

“I think President Trump is doing the right thing to spend his time and money making sure that we win as many Senate and congressional seats as possible, and I applaud him for doing that,” he replied. “In the past, he has been accused of not spending as much time on these midterm races. Now he is committed to doing so, and he will help us win lots of seats with those efforts.”

Then I asked Schlapp, “If the Republicans do well in 2022, will Trump take credit? And if they don’t, will Trump say it’s because his name was not on the ballot? With either outcome, is he going to see it his way?” Schlapp parried that point.

“If the Republicans, with so much promise, end up doing poorly in the midterms, I think it would probably have a negative impact on President Trump’s thinking about running [in 2024],” he said. “The Democrats have never embraced this type of radical policy agenda. And if that turns out to be popular with the American people, I think it’s going to be very discouraging for Republicans. I don’t think the chances of that are very high, but I am willing to entertain the premise.”

However, if the 2022 midterms go well for the GOP and Trump decides to run, I asked Schlapp if he thought Trump would have primary opposition or be crowned the nominee without a fight. He told me:

“I think Trump will have primary opponents, a lane of never-Trump, and don’t know how many there will be. President Trump should want these opponents because he is much better in the ring when competing against somebody. I don’t know if I can see him just getting coronated. I don’t know how he would react to that — he is so used to fighting! But Trump will be a better candidate if he has to take someone on immediately. I believe primaries can be a good thing.”

Then Schlapp proclaimed, “If Trump runs again, he is essentially the incumbent.”

In the meantime, cue the ominous shark-circling-in-the-water music. With voter’s lack of trust in our election system, Trump at center stage, Democrats in disarray, redistricting court battles looming, Biden failing fast, and all the collective pandemic, economic, and cultural angst in our nation, I’m reminded of the most famous line from “Jaws” as the 2022 midterm approaches: “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


By Myra Adams – RealClearPolitics contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from RealClearPolitics – Sept. 10, 2021

No incumbent or former U.S. president had ever inspired fan clubs until Donald J. Trump came along. Faithful MAGA voters motivated by a combination of the former president’s policies, his in-your-face attitude, and personal magnetism banded together in his name and formed numerous “Trump clubs”— most notably in Florida.

“Trump brought with him new energy and new people — many completely distrusted the established Republican hierarchy,” explains early Trump associate and supporter Roger Stone. “That distrust led to the birth of Trump clubs from the Georgia state line to the tip of Key West. And currently, in virtually every Florida county, the Trump club is larger, more inclusive, active, and more enthusiastic than the local Republican Party.”

Sprinkled across the nation and known by various names, Trump clubs operate independently and are not affiliated with the GOP. However, the vast majority of participants are Republicans. The nation’s largest and most influential Trump club — officially named “Club 45 USA” — is based in Florida’s Palm Beach County, home of the 45th president, who resides at the Mar-a-Lago Club.

Club 45’s website boasts of “meeting attendance often exceeding 2,000 people.” The group was founded in 2018 by Joe Budd, who also serves as president. Budd’s four-member board includes three top-tier Palm Beach County Republican Party power brokers who, in either 2016 or 2020, were county chairs or co-chairs for the Trump campaign.

Budd himself holds an elected GOP title as Palm Beach County state committeeman and is on the board of the Republican Party of Florida. Thus, although not directly affiliated, Club 45 and the GOP are closely aligned. Via email, when I asked Budd if his flourishing organization has tapped into a movement and, if so, what is that movement, he replied, “The Trump agenda of Making and Keeping America Great!”

Tangential to that answer is Budd’s relationship with the former president. I inquired if he knows what Trump thinks of the club. Via email, Budd replied: “The President called me and personally congratulated me for the success of the club. I’ve spoken to him about it a couple of times.”

I expected Budd’s answer, having seen Facebook postings by his board members for the past four years. Whenever Air Force One landed at Palm Beach airport, Budd’s high command greeted the president “on the tarmac and drove in the motorcade,” he confirmed.  When I asked if he considers Club 45 USA “a Trump fan club,” he said, simply, “Yes.”

A political insider who has attended club meetings but asked to remain anonymous shared his impressions: “I got a sense that attendees felt they were in a safe space having so many like-minded people around them. They reminded me of fans at a sports event rallying around the home team. No matter what anyone said from the lectern was followed by applause and cheers.”

And now, Club 45 USA’s fall season begins. This week I received an email touting the speakers at the next three events — all of whom are Fox News Channel regulars. The Sept. 13 gathering features Bernie Kerik, the New York City police commissioner when the 9/11 attacks occurred. October brings the “King of CPAC” Matt Schlapp and wife Mercedes, who was a Trump campaign official and former White House director of strategic communications. November’s guest is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who told me, “I do not know anything about them except they seem to draw a nice crowd”).

Testifying to the club’s clout are past speakers, The roster includes A-list Trump World stars such as Rep. Jim Jordan, Corey Lewandowski, retired Gen. Michael Flynn, and Fox News’ Dan Bongino, whose appearance “sold out in 15 minutes,” exclaimed Budd. His list continued with David Bossie, Roger Stone (three times), Sebastian Gorka, James O’Keefe, Florida Reps. Michael Waltz and Byron Donalds. When Ron DeSantis was a gubernatorial candidate in 2018, he addressed the group. 

Speaking of the Florida governor, his name was mentioned when I posed this question to Budd: “Is the club set up to continue after Trump leaves the political scene? In other words, will Trumpism outlast Trump?” He replied, “Yes, currently, our mission is the [2022] re-election of Gov. DeSantis.”

Then, Budd’s comments got immensely interesting. First, I inquired if his regular attendees want Trump to run again in 2024. He answered, “I think a lot of our attendees would love to see President Trump run again.” No surprise there, based on polling. Then I asked, “Do you think Trump and DeSantis might clash for the GOP nomination in 2024?” – and I was shocked by Budd’s honest, unfiltered answer:

“No. I personally don’t think the President will run again. I believe the President will be satisfied with his role as kingmaker and throw his full support behind Governor DeSantis. If it weren’t for President Trump, DeSantis would have had a very hard time defeating Adam Putnam [in the gubernatorial primary]. The polls completely flipped in DeSantis’s favor when the endorsement came out. President Trump knows by experience who the swamp people are, and he knows Governor DeSantis isn’t one of them. The President can rest comfortably knowing DeSantis will fully represent the Trump agenda.”

Budd’s answer came the day after this Politico headline appeared: “Trump builds ‘turnkey’ campaign operation for 2024.” The report elaborated that the former president “is signaling a heightened interest in a rematch with Joe Biden — and laying the necessary groundwork.”

Some intense future conversations may be in store between Budd and the former president, who the club leader thinks will speak to his club “this winter season” since “his advance team has scouted our venue at least twice.” 

Surely that meeting will sell out instantly, beating Bongino’s 15-minute record. However, Budd’s belief that “Trump will be satisfied with his role as kingmaker” contradicts Trump’s well-established nature of never taking a backseat to anyone.

But if DeSantis ascends, the club logo would likely have to change. Trump’s face appears within a shield framed by a flag motif with “Club 45 USA” underneath and “MAGA” at the bottom. Budd’s updated logo might read “Club 47 USA.”

In the leader’s opinion, DeSantis may “fully represent the Trump agenda,” but the Trump club’s banner-waving, red-hat-wearing fans who attend each month to hoop and holler in a “safe space” with “like-minded people” know there is only one true MAGA-man.


By Myra Adams – The Hill contributor

MYRA’S COMPLETE ARCHIVE IS HERE

Reposted from The Hill – Sept. 1, 2021

As the Biden administration falters, it is prime time for former President Trump  to rally the MAGA-faithful contrasting Biden’s “weakness” with Trump’s “strength.” The Hill reported that Trump is planning rallies in Georgia and Iowa. Both events will offer Trump a boisterous platform to repeat his nearly daily calls for Biden to resign, prompted by the Afghanistan debacle.

Symbolically a Trump rally in Iowa – where the nation’s first 2024 nominating contest is held – helps dispel the notion that the former president is only flirting with a second attempt to win his second term in order to stay relevant. More evidence: Trump’s Save America PAC recently hired two Iowa-based political consultants. 

But is Trump being realistic about 2024? The answer is yes, based on what an elderly Trump supporter told me last week that could be a representative feeling: “I have never feared for my country more than I do now. Bring back Trump!”

Undoubtedly his rallies will reinforce the current Republican Party branding message repeated hourly in the  conservative media bubble: Biden is in mental decline. He can’t handle multiple crises and has lost situational control. Opinion is truth for loyal viewers and readers who feed off that circular media diet, where distinguishing truth from spin is nearly impossible. (A statement that applies equally to the left.)

Although the former president appears ready to lead the Republican Party to a 2024 victory, he lacks a majority of base support and could tear the party apart. Let’s examine some recent polling data supporting that fear.

In July, Tony Fabrizio (Trump’s 2016 campaign pollster) surveyed 800 registered Republicans, asking who they would vote for if the GOP presidential primary were held today. The results of this normally meaningless way-to-early question provided a revealing snapshot of future party leadership.

As expected, two names thoroughly dominated: Trump won 47 percent, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis earned 19 percent. Interestingly, the 13 percent who were “undecided” exceeded the 8 percent who chose former Vice President Mike Pence and the paltry 3 percent supporting Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) attracted just 2 percent, but double the 1 percent earned by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)

With Trump stealing much of the thunder from DeSantis, the poll does not reflect base voters’ high expectations and enthusiasm for the 43-year-old governor, a rising national star.

Never in my decades of Republican Party involvement have I seen an officeholder so early in the presidential cycle elicit such unified hope for the party’s future. DeSantis’s “it factor” reminds me of the early hope and change that young Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) inspired among Democrats.

Fabrizio’s poll captures some of DeSantis’s popularity. Without Trump on the list, he wins 39 percent of GOP voters, walloping Pence at 15 percent, who is eclipsed by 20 percent “undecided.”

Most significant is how the Fox News Channel seems to have anointed DeSantis as Trump’s heir apparent while reducing the former president’s screentime.

Given the combined 66 percent of GOP voters who chose either Trump or DeSantis in Fabrizio’s poll, there is a strong assumption that one of these two Florida men will win the Republican presidential nomination. Then again, 2024 is three years away and might as well be three centuries away because anything can happen to change the political landscape. DeSantis in particular runs the risk of peaking too early.

That said, from a GOP base perspective, even if DeSantis lost his 2022 gubernatorial reelection, he might not lose much 2024 national momentum. That’s because DeSantis would have more time to spend on the presidential primary and general election trails without concurrently having to run the pesky, unruly state of Florida.

Such a loss assessment is plausible after a recent poll showed DeSantis in a statistical deadheat with Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), a former Republican governor who first must win his Democratic primary.

Ultimately, DeSantis has the fighting personality and tough-guy image that Republican voters love about Trump. A slogan on his 2022 campaign merchandise reads, “DeSantis — “Keep Florida Free.” For 2024 that could change to “DeSantis — Keep America Free.” 

But America, DeSantis and the Republican Party are not free of Trump. A loyal GOP Trump voter from Georgia recently told me, “I wish Trump would get out of the way for DeSantis.”

More than half of GOP base voters believe that sentiment reflects the party’s past, present and future.

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