Thunderdome: Hurricane Politics
The media helps the White House with crisis spin
Welcome to Thunderdome, where you should never let a crisis go to waste, and Donald Trump isn't wasting any time bashing Ron DeSantis even in the midst of hurricane recovery efforts, hoping to stomp on what could be an opportunity to show off his good governance chops.
The White House, meanwhile, is struggling not just with frustration over their delayed response to the Maui disaster and the president's insistence on repeatedly telling his exaggerated anecdotes about a house fire, but also the anniversary of another, different kind of disaster: the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which brought Gold Star families to bear against the administration this week. The guys discuss all this and more on the latest Thunderdome podcast — listen and subscribe here today!
The GOP field is shrinking fast
A few months ago, the talk was that Republicans were anticipating a much bigger presidential field. Maryland's Larry Hogan, New Hampshire's Chris Sununu, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota's Kristi Noem and Virginia's Glenn Youngkin were all talked about as realistic potential candidates. Instead, Republicans ended up with a smaller field that's already shrinking -- and much faster than it did in 2016.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez became the first to suspend his campaign this week after failing to make the first debate stage. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson appears unlikely to make the second debate, to be moderated by Dana Perino and Stuart Varney at the Reagan Library in California. And as for Doug Burgum, the Super PAC of the North Dakota governor who played hurt in the first debate is spending millions to try and get him to 3 percent in the national polls, or he'll be out, too.
On its surface, this may not seem like anything significant. But consider the contrast with 2016. At this point in that contest, all 17 candidates were still in the race — former Texas Gov. Rick Perry would be the first to drop out, followed by one-time favorite Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, both in the month of September. No one else would drop out for another two months. Even George Pataki stayed in the race through December!
The point is: in 2016, the number of hopeless also-rans stayed very high for a very long time, and the non-Trump GOP coalesced far too late to do anything to stop his nomination. This time around, the number of candidates with strong odds to make future debates and the resources to stay in the race may soon be reduced to as few as five. That doesn't mean any of them can beat Trump. But it is a necessary preface to having any shot at beating him, or building off the momentum of January victories as the clear alternate choice.