Memo to Mike Pence. Start worrying. Details below.
It may be an old joke, but it can be the new reality for the vice president, who may find himself the next victim of his boss’s under-the-bus management style.
The latest polls show Joe Biden leading Donald Trump by 24 points (59-35) among registered women voters. This is particularly significant since women vote in larger numbers than men and the women’s vote was decisive in the 2018 midterm elections, swinging the House of Representatives to the Democrats by the largest margin on record. That returned the speaker’s gavel to Nancy Pelosi and led to Trump’s impeachment.
A New York Times analysis of six recent national surveys shows the widest gap between the major nominees in 70 years of polling women voters. It is up from Biden’s 19-point margin lead earlier this year and well ahead of Hillary Clinton’s peak of 14 percent advantage over Trump on election day 2016.
Trump may have his lawyers send out another one of their laughable “cease and desist” letters, like the recent one to CNN, threatening to sue unless reports of the unfavorable polls are immediately withdrawn and he gets an apology. He has even been foaming at Fox News for publishing polls with results he doesn’t like.
It has been another bad week for Trump.
It started on his 74th birthday weekend at West Point when, addressing cadets, he seemed to have difficulty drinking a glass of water, slurred parts of his speech and seemed to shuffle down a short incline. It just added to growing questions about his physical and neurological health.
There were also his recent threats not to watch NFL and U.S. soccer matches, his defense of naming military installations for losing confederate generals who led a rebellion against the United States, and an embarrassing defeat in the Supreme Court when the first justice he had picked ruled against the administration and in favor of protecting the rights of LBGTQ Americans
Demonstrations against police brutality and racism have spread to all 50 states. Trump recently made a fool of himself with a photo op holding a Bible in front of a church across from the White House after peaceful demonstrators were forcibly dispersed for his convenience.
Virus, Rallies, Bolton
The coronavirus death toll continues to grow, the president’s quack medicine cures went from a joke to danger as people followed his advice and wound up in the hospital. He increasingly
tries to ignore the tragedy by trying to shift national attention to prematurely reviving the economy.
A tell-all book by his former National Security Advisor, John Bolton, due out soon has an irate Trump threatening legal and criminal action to stop it. Bolton’s publisher said it is about “A president for whom getting re-elected was the only thing that mattered, even if it meant endangering or weakening the nation.”
Trump plans to go to Tulsa to resume his giant rallies. The insensitive president clearly never heard of “Juneteenth” before initially scheduling the event on the day marking the end of slavery in the U.S. He also seemed unaware that demonstrations against police violence and racism were going on nationwide and he was holding his rally the racially divided city that was the scene of the country’s most violent race riots.
The economy is the one area where he has a slight advantage in the polls despite having no coronavirus cure in sight, 40 million unemployed and a roller-coaster stock market, Trump is diverting attention and ignoring reality by telling everyone it is safe to go back to normal, whatever that was, is or will be.
Worries For Pence
That’s where Pence got in trouble. He told the nation’s governors to ignore the “intermittent” spikes in coronavirus cases, calling the numbers “marginal” and blaming them on increased testing, and to “encourage” “reopening.” The New York Times called Pence’s message “misleading.”
He gave governors someone to blame instead of Trump if their reopening orders backfire with surges in virus cases. The obsequious veep would be a preferable fall guy because they fear the vindictive Trump, whose motto is “I take no responsibility.”
Pence has more to worry about. In Trump’s world everyone is expendable (except maybe Ivanka) and, as Bolton writes, for Trump everything is about his re-election.
So, with all this going on, why should Mike Pence be so worried? It goes beyond possible defeat in November to what Bolton may reveal. With polls showing Trump losing the critical women’s vote by 24 points and Biden promising to pick a female running mate, Pence may be expendable.
Trump’s go-to response to set-backs, embarrassments and problems is to divert attention. This time “Diversion Don” may try to upstage Biden’s female VP announcement by naming one of his own.
A likely candidate is former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. In addition to her gender and youth (48) she is intelligent, articulate and a good speaker. She is also one of the few people of substance who left the administration with their reputation and relations with the president intact.
She may have a problem with Trump’s white supremacist base, however. Not because she removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse grounds in 2015, but because she doesn’t share their and the president’s xenophobia and hostility toward immigrants.
That can be traced to her parents, Sikh immigrants from India. She changed her name from Nimrata Randhawa, married Michael Haley in 1996 and converted to Christianity. She was the first Indian-American woman elected governor and first female governor of her native South Carolina. [I wonder if Trump would demand her birth certificate.]
At the U.N. she was known as a strong defender of Israel and had a close working relationship with her Israeli counterparts.
She would be a dynamic addition to the ticket and unexpected competition for Biden’s running mate.
Like Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, possibly one of Trump’s adult children and a whole herd of ambitious Republicans, regardless of what happens on Nov. 3, she is known to be looking closely at running for president in 2024.
But first, Trump may need her in his 2020 campaign. The big question is in what role.