The “official” start of the 2020 presidential election campaign is the day after the midterm election. Given that November 7 is less than 100 days away, it’s time for the silly season of wild political speculation.
Taking center stage is the New York Times, which recently published two diametrically opposed op-eds similarly subtitled, “A sneak peek at The Times’s news analysis from Nov. 4, 2020.” The titles speak for themselves:
"How Trump Won Re-election in 2020" on July 26 by Bret Stephens.
"How Trump Lost Re-Election in 2020" on July 29 by David Leonhardt.
Both op-eds are amusing reads with predictable assumptions supporting opposite conclusions. In Stephens’ piece, Trump’s “reelection victory” — although he loses the popular vote again — is based on a robust economy and unpopular socialist-like giveaway programs proposed by the Democratic ticket.
Meanwhile, Leonhardt blames Trump’s “loss” on his consistently low approval ratings with an, “I’m just tired of him” attitude that galvanizes key Democratic voter groups and motivates droves of independent voters to the polls.
Interestingly, in Stephens’ “2020 sneak-peak” op-ed, the losing Democratic ticket is led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and her running mate is Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
Conversely, in Leonhardt’s Nov. 4, 2020 “news” piece where Warren is elected the nation’s first female president, her running mate is former Attorney General Eric Holder.
Note that at the end of Leonhardt’s op-ed he includes a postscript explaining that like Stephens, he chose Warren as the Democratic presidential nominee because “she's highly plausible” and “to avoid any suggestion that the specific nominee was the reason I was suggesting a different outcome than he did.”
Inspired by the New York Times op-eds, my 2020 presidential campaign “news” headlines with “out of the box” thinking offers more speculative summertime fun for political junkies. These “headlines” are also based on the undeniable concept that in politics, “always expect the unexpected.” Let’s begin with the most dramatic concept:
President Trump is NOT the 2020 Republican presidential candidate.
Wait! Before any rabid Trump supporters send me hate tweets, this highly speculative assumption is based on President Trump’s own words as told to Piers Morgan in a July 13 interview while visiting Great Britain.
Asked by Morgan about his reelection, President Trump replied, “Well, you never know, er, what happens with health and other things. I mean, you know, let’s face it…”
Of course, Trump is correct, “you never know.” Therefore, fill in the blank, for whatever the reasons, Trump is not the 2020 incumbent.
Moreover, in a well-sourced Trump 2020 campaign piece in September’s Vanity Fair by Gabriel Sherman, he writes, “Much of the Republican establishment, and even many Trump allies, have been contemplating a Plan B for months.”
Sherman also quotes Roger Stone saying, “He could just decide, ‘I’ve made America great again. I’ve kept all my promises. Now I’m gonna play golf.’”
Now that we know there is “official” talk of “Plan B,” let’s explore two scenarios.
First, Trump declines to run for reelection and finishes his term.
Assuming no incumbent, here is a spring 2020 headline:
“VP Mike Pence and UN ambassador Nikki Haley battle for the 2020 GOP nomination.”
As the summer of 2020 approaches, another headline reads:
“UN ambassador Nikki Haley wins GOP presidential nomination.”
Then the Nov. 4, 2020, New York Times “headline” explains:
“How Haley won in 2020.”
Subhead: “Democrats furious that first female president is Republican.”
The second scenario: Vice President Pence is “President Pence.” (Again, for whatever reason, because this silly season, wild speculation game is not based on reasons “why,” it just “is.”)
With “President Pence” as the incumbent, there is also an incumbent VP as reflected in this mid-2020 headline:
“President Pence wins GOP nomination, keeps Haley on 2020 ticket.”
Followed by the Nov. 4, 2020 headline: “Presidential race too close to call.”
Subhead: “Chaos! Recounts required in five battleground states.”
Shifting to the 2020 Democratic Party nomination fight, unlike the New York Times op-eds, I firmly believe that Sen. Elizabeth Warren will NOT lead the ticket. Thus, here are more speculative headlines. The first is based on Trump running for reelection:
“Former VP Joe Biden wins nomination, pledges one-term.”
“Biden: I will be the nightmare in ‘Trump's dream.' ”
“Biden picks Sen. Kamala Harris for VP, vows to elevate job.”
Speculating that Trump is not the Republican nominee, headlines read:
“California Senator Kamala Harris wins the Democratic nomination.”
“Harris Picks Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for VP.”
Finally, for the most outrageous 2020 campaign headline of all:
“Harris vs. Haley in historic presidential girl-power showdown.”
Remember, in politics anything is possible!
To reiterate, the New York Times inspired my 2020 headline speculations motivating me to provide alternatives. Besides, I am just having some political fun like I was in June 2013 when writing, "Why it Looks Like Donald Trump is Really Running for President in 2016." (I can still hear howls of laughter.)
And, in September 2013, more fun (and groans) after writing, "Five Reasons Why a Trump 2016 Run Could be Good News for the GOP."
Whether eliciting laughs or groans, I have learned that wild presidential election speculation is always entertaining.