This is America, the “land of opportunity,” where the best job enhancement opportunity is running for president. Virtually overnight “unknowns” become known while “already knowns” refresh, rebrand, and reintroduce themselves to the media.
Call me a cynic, but I would wager that a majority of the 24 declared Democrats vying to win their party’s 2020 nomination are using the “presidential candidate” platform to enhance their resumes. First, there are often lucrative financial benefits derived from increasing one’s national media profile resulting in more TV gigs, book deals, and higher speaking fees.
Second is long-term "strategery" from what I call farming, paving, and training. “Farming” is planting seeds for a future run at a more attainable higher office. “Paving” ensures an easier re-election road to one’s current office. “Training” is gaining valuable experience and laying the groundwork for a second presidential run. (Or third, in the case of Joe Biden.)
And speaking of the former vice president here is a math equation to ponder:
In 2020 Biden turns age 78. When 37-year-old South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg turns 78 in 2060 — conceivably, he could be making his third presidential run.
Thus far, Biden’s age does not appear to be a drawback. After announcing for president on April 25, he is leading the crowded field supported by 39.8% of Democratic primary voters according to the Real Clear Politics polling average. In my opinion, Biden’s lead is easily explained by one name: Barack Obama.
However, the "Messiah of 2008" proved his humanity after the twice-elected 44th president of the United States decimated his party by presiding over “a net loss of 1,042 state and federal Democratic posts, including congressional and state legislative seats, governorships and the presidency.” Supporters of Obama’s former vice president have forgotten this scorecard of inconvenient truth.
Clinton’s defeat allowed President Trump to obliterate Obama’s all-important “legacy” that Biden now aims to restore. It’s all so Shakespearean! (By the way, is Shakespeare still required high school reading? Or, "just a generational thing?" To quote the aforementioned Pete Buttigieg describing Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine that I read in high school way more than Shakespeare.)
Generational gaps aside, “Biden-Obama” is currently the 2020 Democrat’s “Back to the Future” all-star team even though Obama is still on the bench at Biden’s “request.” (An obvious “cover Obama’s butt in case Biden does not win the nomination” bit of “strategery.”)
Still, ever-faithful Joe is “all in” for Obama. Last weekend while Biden was on the campaign trail in Hampton, New Hampshire, Politico reported:
“The former vice president mentioned former President Barack Obama at least three times during his visit to Hampton. Biden called Obama "‘one heck of a president’ and said Obama doesn't get enough credit.”
Perhaps Biden’s campaign should start selling blue caps emblazoned with “Re-elect Obama, Vote Biden” to counter Trump’s iconic “Make America Great Again” red caps along with the updated version, “Keep America Great.”
Now for the best 2020 “strategery” so far: Democrats countering the “problem” of a robust economy widely credited to Trump with a new talking point seen in this recent headline, “Democratic Candidates Say Obama Is the Reason the Economy Is So Good.” And in The Hill, “2020 Dems: Trump doesn't deserve credit for the economy.”
Here’s a recommended GOP headline to counter why the economy continued to flounder under Obama: “It was Obama’s bad policies, stupid.” (If you don’t get the reference then Google, “It’s the economy, stupid”).
Another foundational element of “Re-elect Obama, Vote Biden” is how the former vice president will operationalize the “No Drama, Obama” moniker, considered a hallmark of Obama’s eight-year reign. The perception of Trump administration “chaos” is a liability that Biden is well-positioned to exploit while it plays out in real-time headlines. But I do not doubt that the Trump campaign will fight back with some creative jiu-jitsu.
No matter how far Team Biden/Obama advances during the early stages of the 2020 race, Biden is still the “designated survivor” of Obama’s presidency because the very popular former first lady Michelle Obama declined to make a 2020 run. In the unlikely chance that she changes her mind, Democrats would drop Biden faster than the speed of Trump’s tweets.
My point is anything can and will happen to change the course of what today looks like a Trump vs. Biden general election showdown.
For example, it is instructive to remember that at this same time during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, May 2015, we were still a month away from back-to-back presidential announcements that forever changed U.S history.
The first took place on June 15, 2015, when the well-funded GOP frontrunner, former two-term Florida Governor Jeb Bush officially announced his candidacy.
The second was the next day, June 16, when Donald Trump famously rode the Trump Tower escalator down to his presidential announcement speech that shook the nation and the world. Within days, Trump was the leading GOP candidate and stayed on top until he won the nomination.
Due to the daily non-stop 2020 presidential coverage, it is easy to forget that in political dog years, the next presidential election is centuries away. And most important, our nation is mega-polarized in an increasingly volatile world with a U.S. president who has never been tested by an international crisis.
"What, me worry?" as my good friend Alfred E. used to say. (Google it, like Buttigieg.)