Feehery: It's Trump's race to lose

Feehery: It's Trump's race to lose
© Greg Nash

Two things we know to be true this election cycle.

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE is not going to change who he is.

Democrats have to nominate somebody to run against him.


First, on Trump.

After slightly more than three years in office, this is as presidential as he is going to get.

To many Washingtonians, his deportment is a bug. But to those who will vote for him for reelection, his deportment is a feature.

His tweeting, his coarse language, his destruction of Washington norms, don’t upset his supporters one bit.

He may be a jerk, but it takes a jerk to change the jerks in Washington.

And let’s face it. It works for him.


The president campaigned in 2016 just as he governs today. He has been notoriously consistent in his issue set: lower taxes, fewer regulations, stronger borders, better trade deals.

It is hard enough to beat an incumbent president who campaigns on one thing and delivers something completely else. Incumbents are just hard to beat, historically speaking.

Beating an incumbent who has a strong economy and has stuck to his campaign promises? Seems like a tall order to me.

Which brings me to the Democrats.

I don’t feel cocky at this stage of the game. We have a lot of time left, and this president is not exactly known for playing it safe.

But not one of the candidates currently running in the Democratic field is better than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton on US leading in coronavirus cases: Trump 'did promise "America First"' Democratic fears rise again as coronavirus pushes Biden to sidelines Clintons send pizza to NY hospital staff treating coronavirus MORE.

Yes, Clinton had baggage, but she also had a tremendous résumé, was a good debater, and had a presence and name recognition that any of these other candidates would die for.

We all love Joe BidenJoe BidenFighting a virus with the wrong tools Trump bucks business on Defense Production Act Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — US coronavirus cases hit 100,000 | Trump signs T stimulus package | Trump employs defense powers to force GM to make ventilators | New concerns over virus testing MORE, unless of course, you live in an early primary state. He might pull a 2008 version of John McCainJohn Sidney McCainJuan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal Ernst calls for public presidential campaign funds to go to masks, protective equipment President Trump is right — Now's the time for 'all hands on deck' MORE and come back after everybody counts him out, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Overnight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders pushes on in 2020 race MORE (I-Vt.) has the perfect message if he was running for president against Herbert Hoover. But his Depression-era language looks slightly ridiculous if you have a job and you pay taxes, which makes up a fairly high percentage of the voting public.

I thought Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (D-Mass.) would do better among Democrats, but her campaign is sputtering, mostly because she is so unlikable.

The surprise is Mayor Pete. Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegReuters poll finds Sanders cutting Biden national lead to single digits Biden says he'll adopt plans from Sanders, Warren Buttigieg guest-hosts for Jimmy Kimmel: 'I've got nothing else going on' MORE is a fresh face, and he has the countenance of an eager teaching assistant, just wanting to plunge into office hours and teach his undergrads about English literature. And I guess his very thin résumé will not be used against him to the extent it probably should. Hey, it worked for former President Obama.

But I just don’t really know what Pete really stands for or what his campaign is all about. With Trump, everybody knew what they were getting. With the mayor, it’s all a mystery.

If money is the lifeblood of any campaign, then Mike Bloomberg is in the best shape of any of the Democratic candidates.

Billionaires tend to poll very well among other billionaires, but among the less fortunate (which is everybody else), they tend to be less popular.

So, we will see how well Mike (didn’t he used to call himself Michael?) does when he actually appears on a ballot.

The Bloomberg strategy neatly contrasts with Trump’s campaigns of 2016 and today.

Trump dominates earned media. Bloomberg dominates paid media.

Trump has big, barn-burning rallies, must-see events where he says just about anything that crosses his internal transom. Mike couldn’t sell out an arena if he paid everybody in the audience a hundred bucks.


In 2016, Trump won the first two primaries and won one of the first two caucuses, which gave him tremendous momentum going into Super Tuesday. Bloomberg’s campaign won’t really get started until Super Tuesday, a unique strategy, to say the least.

At the end of the day, will it be Mike to take on the Donald?

One billionaire versus a guy who says he is a billionaire?

Time will tell, but I am putting my money on the incumbent, no matter who the Democrats nominate.

That seems like the safe money to me.

Feehery is a partner at EFB Advocacy and blogs at www.thefeeherytheory.com. He served as spokesman to former Speaker Dennis HastertJohn (Dennis) Dennis HastertFeehery: Mulvaney fit for Northern Ireland post Feehery: Wither the Establishment Feehery: Surging Sanders puts House in range for Republicans MORE (R-Ill.), as communications director to former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) when he was majority whip and as a speechwriter to former House Minority Leader Bob Michel (R-Ill.).