Are both Donald Trump and Joe Biden going to run to the center? Yesterday Trump delivered a fairly anodyne speech about American military valor that was totally bereft of his sizzling asides. Now fresh rumors are percolating about whether Trump really is preparing to dump Vice President Mike Pence for his former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley. Trump explained today that Pence had to cancel his trip to New Hampshire because of an ‘interesting problem’ but would not say what it was other than that all would be revealed in a couple of weeks.
Another person who may get the heave-ho is national security adviser John Bolton. Tom Wright of the Brookings Institution is predicting Bolton May well be replaced by retired Army colonel Douglas Macgregor, a staunch realist and advocate of restraint abroad, including withdrawing from Syria. When it comes to the trade wars, Trump seems to be following a more cautious path as well. He’s making more conciliatory noises about China. Add in the new 224,000 jobs report and Trump may be well positioned for the fall 2020 race.
If Trump might pivot, it’s also the case the that Biden is trying to rediscover his mojo by attacking the Democratic left. He took a potshot at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo. He called her ‘brilliant’ and ‘bright’ but suggested that ‘way left’ was not the right path for Democrats to travel. She had merely ‘won a primary.’ It was mainstream Democrats who propelled the party to victory in the House in the 2018 midterm election.
The same would hold true in 2020. Indeed Biden made it clear that he is not on board with a passel of policies that the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Julián Castro have endorsed. No Medicare for All. No tuition-free college. No decriminalizing of the border.
Bien-pensant opinion among Democrats will blanch at Biden’s views. But profiling himself as the truth teller among Democrats is a shrewd move on Biden’s part. He remains the front-runner and it is Kamala Harris who is now tying herself into knots on the hoary question of school busing.
The fact remains that Biden doesn’t even qualify as a conservative Democrat. He’s a traditional liberal. The primary will show whether that has become an endangered species or whether the left is once more overestimating its sway. The person most disappointed by the latter development would, of course, be Trump.