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ORTEGA: Republicans and Democrats Ignore the Growing Latino Vote

According to experts, this year’s presidential and congressional elections will come down to a small group of voters in a handful of states.

And in an election of inches, both political parties will need to win over the support of the youngest and one of the fastest-growing demographics: Latinos.

The big question is, how?

Recently, The LIBRE Initiative compiled a seven-page memo digging into this question, providing both parties with a warning and blueprint for engaging and communicating effectively with Latino voters.

First, it helps to understand Hispanic voters’ demographic and political landscape.

By now, most people know that Latinos comprise a large part of the California, Florida and Texas electorate. Less discussed is how Hispanics constitute a growing share of the population in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin swing states.

Consider Pennsylvania, which narrowly went for President Biden in 2020. According to voter data compiled by Televisa/Univision, close to 200,000 Latinos voted in the 2020 presidential election. Biden won the Keystone State by 80,555 votes.

Another critical state is Wisconsin, where, according to a recent Census survey, nearly 447,000 Latinos live — 180,000 of them eligible to vote. Like in Pennsylvania, Biden narrowly won Wisconsin by almost 20,000 votes.

Finally, there is Michigan, where polling shows a tight race and Latinos constituting a small but growing part of the electorate.

If Republicans want to win, or at least come close to winning the Latino vote, polls show it means zeroing in on jobs and the economy. Despite positive recent economic numbers, many Latinos feel squeezed by inflation, made worse by Latinos not saving enough for retirement and not accessing financial tools that could help them weather unexpected economic storms.

Republicans would do well to remind Latinos that a few years ago, a Republican White House and Republican House of Representatives enacted several pro-growth economic policies that contributed to a historically low Latino unemployment rate punctuated by rising Latino entrepreneurship and homeownership rates.

For Democrats, it means convincing enough Latino voters why they deserve to remain in control of the White House and the Senate. Predicating your re-election strategy by pointing out how terrible the other party’s ideas are is a mighty big gamble with so much on the line.

Instead of spending the bulk of their time criticizing the other side, both political parties should cast a vision for how their policies will genuinely improve the lives of all Americans — including the Latino community.

The Latino electorate, in turn, should demand politicians running for office show how they plan to accomplish anything in a divided government. In other words, are there proposals that could receive bipartisan support?

Latinos are tired of excuses from the political class. We’re exercising our political clout and determined to make our voices heard. Like most Americans, we want to provide for our families, save for a rainy day and invest in the future.

Which party does a better job of casting an aspirational vision where freedom and opportunity flourish may have a receptive audience with the growing Latino electorate — and may have them to thank for their electoral success come November.

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Republicans Believe PA Will Go Red in 2024

Despite a poor showing in statewide judicial races in 2023, Pennsylvania Republicans are bullish for 2024.

It’s a presidential election year and so far former President Trump is leading in the polls for the primary so barring an unforeseen event, the general election will likely be a rematch of Trump against President Biden.

“I think in Pennsylvania, the Republicans will do very, very well,” said  Republican consultant Charlie Gerow, CEO of Quantum Communications. “And as Pennsylvania goes, so goes the nation.”

Asked about the losses in 2023, Gerow said, “2023 was an ‘off-year election’ with a very different electorate than the folks who will show up at the polls next year.”

More people come out and vote in presidential election years.

“You’re going to have three times the number of voters participating in 2024 as you had in 2023,” said Gerow.

Scott Presler, a Republican voter registration activist who has been focusing on registering Pennsylvania voters this year, including spending three days in December at a recent gun show in Oaks, is also bullish.

“I feel more confident today about Republicans winning the presidency in 2024, than I did a year ago,” said Presler.

He points with pride to the recent “flip” of Beaver County from Democrat to Republican and believes Bucks County may be next. Luzerne and Centre counties are also on the cusp of flipping from blue to red.

In the first two weeks in December, the Democrats lost 2,165 voters while Republicans gained 3,530 voters.

“Republicans had a net gain of 5,695 voters in 14 days,” said Presler, who was also recently in Philadelphia teaching local Republicans how to register voters.

“This is monumental when you think of Joe Biden winning Pennsylvania in 2020 by 80,000 votes,” said Presler. “So I think 2024 is going to be a great year. I think Pennsylvania is winnable and anecdotally from what I’ve experienced the last three days at the gun show, granted it’s a gun show. These are Second Amendment voters.”

“Republican momentum is on the rise, with another Pennsylvania county flipping from blue to red just this week. The RNC is continuing to register Republican voters and encouraging them to ‘bank’ their vote for Republicans up and down the ballot in 2024, as Pennsylvanians stand ready to Beat Biden and retire Bob Casey once and for all!” said RNC Spokesperson Rachel Lee.

In November of 2021, Pennsylvania Democrats had 605,188 more voters than Republicans.   Republicans have reduced Democrats’ advantage by over 161,000 voters in the last two years.

In 2023, some 50,000 Democrats and Independents have re-registered as Republicans in Pennsylvania.

The RNC is also pushing mail-in ballots in a Bank Your Vote campaign, to cut into the Democrats’ lead in that arena.

“People are hungry for change. One woman who was born in 1965 never registered to vote her entire life. She registered for the first time with me as a Republican,” said Presler.

“What I’m hearing from people is the theme, what they’re saying to me is, ‘The world is in chaos. The world is upside down and it’s time for a change.’ That’s what I’m hearing over and over again,” said Presler.

Many DelVal voters still abhor Trump and will likely never vote for him.

“Well, in other parts of the state, they are,” said Gerow.

“And, as you know, Donald Trump won here in Pennsylvania in 2016, and lost narrowly in 2020. So he’s got a very clear path to win again in 2024,” said Gerow. “And I believe he will.”

Asked about abortion, which Democrats have been successfully using as a wedge issue, including to attack Judge Carolyn Carluccio, the Republican who ran for the Supreme Court, Gerow believes that issue will fade.

“I don’t think it’s going to be as big as some of our Democratic friends will like it to be,” said Gerow. “I think the economy is going to be the dominant issue next year and the devastation of Bidenomics is going to reflect in the results.”

The other marquee race will be three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey who is being challenged by Dave McCormick, a Gulf War veteran, a successful businessman who also served in the Bush administration.

Gerow said, “Dave McCormick’s entire life is action packed. He gets things done. His record of accomplishment in the private sector far exceeds Bob Casey’s 34 years in politics. People are increasingly asking, ‘What has Bob Casey actually done?’ They don’t ask that about Dave McCormick.”

“I think it always boils down to personalities,” said Gerow.

He also pointed to Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who the state Democratic Party endorsed for auditor general, over two other candidates.

“He’s a Marxist for crying out loud,” said Gerow. “That’s where the Democratic Party is right now. It’s identity politics. He’s African American. He’s gay. He checks all the boxes. That’s what they’re looking for, not competency. That guy’s got no business running for auditor general.”

In contrast, incumbent Timothy DeFoor, who is also African American, has a strong background in auditing and accounting.

In addition to the economy, Presler said people are concerned with rising crime. He is convincing Philadelphians to either register Republican as first-time voters or to switch parties based on rising crime.

“I’m getting formerly incarcerated people,” he said. “Business owners. They’ve changed their lives and they’re going ‘Oh my gosh, the taxes are incredible. Inflation is incredible. Crime is rising. The streets aren’t being cleaned.”

“Unlike 2020 or 2016, you’re going to see millions of people who have never been part of the process coming out to vote,” said Presler.

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KING: Why Haven’t the Presidential Candidates Embraced or Even Mentioned AI?

Memo to presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump:

Assuming one of you will be elected president of the United States next year, many computer scientists believe you should be addressing what you think about artificial intelligence and how you plan to deal with the surge in this technology, which will break over the nation in the next president’s term.

Gentlemen, this matter is urgent, yet only a little has been heard from either of you who are seeking the highest office. President Biden did sign a first attempt at guidelines for AI, but he and Trump have been quiet on its transformative impact.

Indeed, the political class has been silent, preoccupied as it is with old and — against what will happen — irrelevant issues. Congress has been as silent as Biden and Trump. There are two congressional AI caucuses, but they have been concerned with minor issues, like AI in political advertising.

Climate change and AI stand out as game changers in the next presidential term.

On climate change, both of you have spoken: Biden has made climate change his own; Trump has dismissed it as a hoax.

The AI tsunami is rolling in, and the political class is at play, unaware that it is about to be swamped by a huge new reality: exponential change that can neither be stopped nor legislated into benignity.

Before the next presidential term is far advanced, the experts tell us that the nation’s life will be changed, perhaps upended by the surge in AI, which will reach into every aspect of how we live and work.

I have surveyed the leading experts in universities, government and AI companies and they tell me that any form of employment that uses language will be changed. Just this will be an enormous upset, reaching from journalism (where AI already has had an impact) to the law (where AI is doing routine drafting) to customer service (where AI is going to take over call centers) to fast food (where AI will take the orders).

The more one thinks about AI, the more activities come to mind that will be severely affected by its neural networks.

Canvas the departments and agencies of the government, and you will learn the transformational nature of AI. In the departments of Defense, Treasury and Homeland Security, AI is seen as a serious agent of change — even revolution.

The main thing is not to confuse AI with automation. It may resemble it, and many may take refuge in the benefits of automation, especially job creation. But AI is different. Rather than job creation, it appears, at least in its early iterations, set to do major job obliteration.

But there is good AI news, too.  And those in the political line of work can use good news, whetting the nation’s appetite with the advances that are around the corner with AI.

Many aspects of medicine will, without doubt, rush forward. Omar Hatamleh, chief adviser on artificial intelligence and innovation at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, says the thing to remember is that AI is exponential, but most thinking is linear.

Hatamleh is excited by the tremendous effect AI will have on medical research. He says that a child born today can expect to live to 120 years of age. How is that for a campaign message?

A good news story in AI should be enough to make campaign managers and speechwriters ecstatic. What a story to tell; what fabulous news to attach to a candidate. Think of an inaugural address that can claim AI research is going to begin to end the scourges of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Sickle cell and Parkinson’s.

Think of your campaign. Think of how you can be the president who broke through the disease barrier and extended life. AI researchers believe this is at hand, so what is holding you back?

Many would like to write the inaugural address for a president who can say, “With the technology that I will foster and support in my administration, America will reach heights of greatness never before dreamed of and which are now at hand. A journey into a future of unparalleled greatness begins today.”

So why, oh why, have you said nothing about the convulsion — good or bad — that is about to change the nation? Here is a gift as palpable as the gift of the moonshot was for John F. Kennedy.

Where are you? Either of you?

 

Could ‘Scranton Joe’ Really Lose Swing State Pennsylvania?

When pollsters like Siena College and Emerson College want to take the temperature of voters in swing states, they inevitably stick a political thermometer in Pennsylvania. And as of late, those polls show “Scranton Joe” Biden trailing Donald Trump in the incumbent president’s home state.

Biden won Pennsylvania in 2020, and Democrats had strong showings here in 2022 and 2023. So, are Democrats really in danger of losing Pennsylvania in the 2024 White House race? Political pros say current polling is interesting — but not predictive.

“It can be somewhat dangerous to compare different polls that have different methodologies that were in the field at different times.” Republican political consultant Christopher Nicholas of Eagle Consulting Group told DVJournal. “That can get a little dicey…the usual disclaimers apply about polls being a year away, and Trump is looking like the presumptive nominee, but he’s not. No one has cast a vote yet.”

Fellow Republican political consultant Charlie Gerow of Quantum Communications agrees. He compared the early Biden-Trump polls to watching the stock market because “you never know what you’re going to get.” Gerow saw the polls as a “snapshot in time” and one that can’t be taken seriously until “you begin to see consistent patterns — which we’re not.”

If Republicans are urging caution, how do others feel?

“We have to be careful to not say that one poll is ‘the one,’” said Jeff Jubelirer of Bellevue Communications Group. He prefers looking at all data before deciding which candidate leads the race.

Recent polls in Pennsylvania show Trump leading by an average of a point and a half, according to RealClearPolitics. It is a significant swing from earlier this year when RCP found Biden leading by about four points.

There is still a feeling that voters appear desperate for candidates not named Biden or Trump. Both are deeply underwater with the electorate, though for different reasons. A Franklin & Marshall College poll found that 84 percent of Pennsylvania voters thought that Biden was too old for a second term.

Trump, on the other hand, is viewed as a “threat to democracy” by many independent voters who would like an alternative to the elderly Biden.

“People are dreading that being the choice again,” commented Nicholas, who compared the 2024 election to the 2016 election between Trump and Hillary Clinton. “It’s almost to the point of parody now: ‘Trump is the only Republican that Biden could beat’ and ‘Biden is the only Democrat that Trump could beat.’”

Why won’t both parties jettison Biden and Trump off the ballots? Fear, according to political strategists.

“[I]f all of sudden one of them went away, that party would become a surefire loser,” said Nicholas. “That’s how people view it now. Maybe it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Gerow is full steam ahead on the Trump train. “The people that don’t want Trump dislike him for other reasons other than his age and mental acuity,” Gerow said. “Let the chips fall where they will.”

Jubelirer said he believes Biden could be vulnerable if he had to run against a Republican not named “Trump.” He called the other candidates “very formidable,” with the exception of Chris Christie.

He’s not sure who the best Biden replacement might be. “Kamala Harris isn’t much more popular – if at all – than Joe Biden,” he told DVJournal. “I do think…[California Gov.] Gavin Newsom…could engender more support than Joe Biden.”

The only Democrats officially challenging Biden are Minnesota U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. dropped out of the Democratic primary to launch an independent presidential campaign.

As for Newsom, accusations of running a shadow campaign against Biden have dogged the governor for most of 2023. He has made multiple foreign trips and visits to other U.S. states. However, Newsom hasn’t formally declared a presidential run.

A potential wild card is Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro. The extremely popular Democrat gave essentially a stump speech to New Hampshire Democrats in September, portraying his administration as a “get sh-t done” one.

That doesn’t mean that he should run for president in 2024. Nicholas quipped that “in [Shapiro’s] mind, it’s an inevitability.”

Jubelirer thinks it is too early for Shapiro to seek national office. “His name’s been out there a little, but the country doesn’t know him yet, except those of us who are in the know.” He thinks 2028 is a better time for Shapiro.

As for next year’s presidential election, voters may enjoy gobbling up poll numbers instead of doing research into more important areas.

“The public remains interested in the ‘horse race’ aspect of the election,” said Jubelirer. “Who’s winning? Who’s losing? It draws more interest than a candidate’s positions on issues and other angles.”

Americans For Prosperity Action Endorses McCormick for U.S. Senate

It’s Christmas in July for Dave McCormick.

Americans For Prosperity Action announced Wednesday it is throwing its weight behind the Republican in his campaign against incumbent Sen. Bob Casey Jr. in 2024. The endorsement comes despite the fact that the author and former hedge fund CEO who ran against Dr. Mehmet Oz for the Republican nomination last year has not announced another bid for office.

He is, however, widely expected to eventually enter the race.

The political action committee, affiliated with the free-market organization Americans For Prosperity, announced other U.S. Senate endorsements on Wednesday as well. They included U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska and retired U.S. Army Captain Sam Brown of Nevada.

“The last three election cycles have made it clear that if we want better policies from Washington, we need better candidates who can lead our country forward,” said Nathan Nascimento, the PAC’s executive director. “AFP Action is prepared for an unprecedented election cycle engagement in 2024. We’ll be engaging in more primaries at every level of office and using our unmatched data capabilities to bring new voters into the political process. We are ready to deploy the strongest and most effective grassroots army in the country to change the outcome of critical races and elect champions for policies that will empower Americans.”

McCormick, who served in the 82nd Airborne Division during the Persian Gulf War, was a Treasury undersecretary for President George W. Bush. He was CEO of Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, from 2020 to 2022.

McCormick has been traveling the state, meeting potential voters, and promoting his book, “Superpower in Peril.”

Casey, who shares a name with his famous father who had served as Pennsylvania governor, is seeking his fourth term.

Perhaps taking a populist cue from Sen. John Fetterman (D) in 2022, Casey said on his campaign website he will “stand up to powerful corporate interests and make the lives of hardworking Pennsylvanians a little bit easier.”

Between 2017 and 2022, Casey’s top contributors were law firms, lobbyists, finance, insurance, and real estate firms, according to FollowtheMoney.org

“Pennsylvania cannot have another term of Bob Casey rubber-stamping Biden’s big-government agenda. Pennsylvanians have seen enough from Casey to know that he’s not going to stand up to the status quo,” said AFP Action Senior Advisor Ashley Kingensmith. “They’ve have had enough of record-breaking spending, redistribution, and constraining regulation from Washington—and they’re the ones paying the price.

“That’s why we’re sending out the signal and encouraging Dave McCormick to enter this race and give the Keystone State the representation it needs in Washington. Should McCormick choose to run, he will have the backing and enthusiasm of our grassroots who are ready to send him to Washington,” she said.

Nascimento added, “This is an example of AFP Action getting involved earlier in the election cycle. We’re identifying strong candidates who have the qualities and principles we want to see representing Americans in Washington. Dave McCormick is one of those candidates.”

Should McCormick decide to run, the Democrats have their swords out.

Maddy McDaniel, senior communications adviser to the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, said, “David McCormick is a Wall Street mega-millionaire who has sold out Pennsylvanians to make millions for himself, his wealthy friends, and the Chinese government. Sen. Bob Casey has spent his career delivering for Pennsylvania families, while David McCormick has shipped American jobs overseas and prioritized China over Pennsylvania.”

 

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Americans for Prosperity Gears Up for 2024 Election Cycle in PA

Pennsylvania voters approved two constitutional amendments to limit a governor’s emergency powers in the wake of COVID-19 mandates in 2021. One of the forces behind the successful effort was the free market organization Americans for Prosperity (AFP).

AFP worked to make that happen, knocking on doors and talking to voters, helping to shape public opinion. And the AFP Action, its political wing, will be on the ground running in 2024, with endorsements for the presidential primary, U.S. Senate, Congress, and other races, said Ashley Klingensmith, AFP state director.

The free-market activist group has been in Pennsylvania for 13 years and has activists in all 67 counties. They are also in all 50 states.

“We’re looking to expand as we move into next year,” said Klingensmith. “We do a lot of skills training through our sister organization, Americans for Prosperity Foundation.”

The organization works against “government barriers to economic opportunity,” said Emily Greene, deputy state director. It focuses on policy issues like licensing and regulation reform, economic opportunity, taxation, and spending.

And like the press, it tries to hold government officials accountable, said Klingensmith.

Its key issues include taxes. According to WalletHub, Pennsylvania has the third-highest taxes overall of the 50 states, including the highest gas tax, and it is in the top five among states where residents vote with their feet, moving to other states for better opportunities.

AFP puts a lot of effort into its Pennsylvania taxpayer scorecard, said Klingensmith. It tracks how representatives and senators vote on various “key” bills and rates them.

They are “bills that we believe are going to be the most transformative,” said Klingensmith. “One of the differences between us and other advocacy organizations is that we do focus principally on transformational policy. While there are 5,000-plus bills introduced in a given legislative session, we’re honing in on a few dozen of the most transformative.”

Greene said AFP does not coordinate with individual campaigns but does its own canvassing, phone banking, and digital marketing for candidates they have endorsed.

“We’re sticking to our message, our vision, and why that individual is worthy of an AFP endorsement. We got involved in some primary races last year. One was for Rep. Natalie Mihalek (R) in Allegheny and Washington Counties. That was one where it came down to (about) 800 votes. It was very, very close, and we were the force that got her over the finish line because we believe she had been such a champion under the dome in Harrisburg, she deserved another shot.”

“We do everything through our activists,” said Klingensmith. “We’re out there knocking with them as well. And we don’t write checks to get our point across. We do it all through manpower in the grassroots.”

Another “exciting race” it was a part of was for Rep. Marla Brown (R-Lawrence), whom the group endorsed. She beat an incumbent who had been in Harrisburg for nearly two decades.

“She promoted a message of change,” said Greene, with “a priority of removing governmental barriers and tax reform.”

“We were super excited to play a small part in that race,” she said.

“We are very public with what we do,” Klingensmith said. “All of the endorsements and political engagements that we have are announced through press releases. We are like the tip of the spear. We are in communities 365 days a year. We were at the last two President Biden visits in the southeast…I was there protesting.

“Politics, at the end of the day, is just a means to a greater political landscape,” she said.

Christine Ravold, an AFP spokeswoman, said, “Last year, we knocked on nearly a million doors for Dr. Oz. We don’t know who it’s going to be in the 2024 cycle. We’re getting involved in a presidential primary for the first time ever.

“And we’re looking at a number of statewide races,” she continued. “We want somebody to be challenging (Sen.) Bob Casey. And we’re looking at some districts that are ripe for targeting, like (Rep.) Susan Wild’s in the 7th.”

To that end, AFP opened an office in Allentown on Thursday.

The group does not know who it will be backing in the presidential primary.

“We’re doing a full court press talking to right-of-center voters to see where they’re at on the issues, where they’re at on the candidates that have already announced,” said Greene. “We just want to get a good sense of where the electorate is.”

The final survey question was: Do you still think people can achieve the American Dream, or are the country’s best days behind us?

“In Pennsylvania, 67 percent of the people we talked to fully believe the country’s best days are behind us as a result of bad policies,” said Greene. “So we see that our work is cut out for us. And we’re trying to be that positive force so we can get this country and this commonwealth back in positive shape.”

And even though Democrats in Philadelphia have a 7-1 voter advantage, AFP has an outreach director in the city, Roslyn Williams.

“We’re doing critical work, building relationships with voters,” said Klingensmith.

‘Comic-Kaze?’ Christie’s In It to Win It, And Have a Good Time, Too.

A Republican from the northeast, telling jokes, doing impressions, and even working a little blue. If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was a Donald Trump campaign event.

Except that Tuesday night at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, the jokes were on him.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may be the longest of long shots to win the GOP presidential nomination, but based on his last two appearances in New Hampshire (both town halls at the NHIOP), he’s decided that, wherever this campaign winds up, he’s going to have a good time getting there.

Mostly at Donald Trump’s expense.

For example, when a member of the audience asked Christie whether, if elected president, he’d be willing to pardon Donald Trump, he gave a serious and thorough answer to the question (spoiler alert: probably not), before adding that the question was moot.

“By accepting the pardon, the person must acknowledge their guilt. And that’s why I’m completely in the clear,” Christie said as the crowd laughed. “That will never happen.”

Christie, 60, began with a somewhat stilted, overly-worked set piece about the choice between “big and small,” how petty politics and divisive leaders were making America a smaller place. “At every pivotal moment in our history, there was a choice between small and big — and America became the most different, the most successful, the most fabulous light for the rest of the world in history because we always picked big,” Christie said.

It seemed like a way to make an asset out of Christie’s weight — a set up for “Go Big! Vote Christie 2024,” but the pitch never came.

But once he began taking questions from the crowd, Christie was loose and relaxed as he worked the packed room without notes or a script. A throng of national media was on hand,  a massive mismatch between press interest and candidate potential.

Christie used the NHIOP forum to formally announce he’s seeking the GOP nomination. But he also used it to address the fundamental question many New Hampshire GOP activists — who will be key to helping him build a campaign — have about his candidacy: Is he trying to win, or merely play the role of political kamikaze targeting Trump?

“How are those two things mutually exclusive?” Christie asked. “The guy’s ahead in the polls. Who am I supposed to be worried about — Nikki Haley?”

In Christie’s view, all the talk about lanes is pundit puffery. “There is one lane, and he’s in the front of it. And if you want to win, you better go right through him.”

“The reason I’m going after Trump is two-fold. One, he deserves it. And two, it’s the way to win.”

In reality, “going through Trump” isn’t the only way to win. In fact, targeting Trump and alienating many of the 79 million Americans who voted for him  — including the vast majority of New Hampshire Republicans — is one of the least likely ways to win.

Polls show the vast majority of Republicans support Trump and aren’t interested in hearing him being attacked. To many GOP primary voters, people who criticize Trump sound like Democrats. From a pragmatic political standpoint, there’s a strong argument in favor of the DeSantis approach: Fight back when Trump attacks, but don’t do anything to alienate Trump loyalists– like Christie doing his impression of Trump promising to build the wall (“I’m going to build the most amazing wonderful wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it.”) and mocking his failure.

It was funny, but how does it win GOP primary votes?

A 15-year-old in the NHIOP audience picked up on the paradox. He asked Christie how he planned to win over Trump voters “when you don’t seem to be appealing to the larger [group of] Republican voters?”

“I’m glad you’re 15 so you can’t vote,” Christie joked. But his question is serious, and the governor never gave a fully satisfying answer. “The way I’m going to appeal to any voter in New Hampshire is to make the case I can make,” Christie said. “I don’t have a specific strategy. I’m just going to be myself.”

Which means he’s a lot of fun to watch.

“If you are in search of the perfect candidate, it is time for you to leave. I am not it,” Christie told the crowd. Then he warned of candidates who claim perfection.

“Beware of the leader who has never made a mistake, never done anything wrong, or when something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. Or has never lost,” Christie said as the crowd began to chuckle.

“I lost. You people did that to me in 2016,” he said to laughs.

“Beware a leader like that because he believes America’s greatness resides in the mirror he’s looking at,” Christie said. And then, after scolding his fellow GOP candidates for refusing to utter the frontrunner’s name (“It’s ‘Voldemort’ time, everybody”), he laid it out:

“Let me be clear, in case I have not been already: The person I am talking about, who’s obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault, who always finds someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right, is Donald Trump.”

Christie also offered a rant mocking Trump for doing something no one had ever done before: Lose an election to Joe Biden.

Pointing out that Biden “ran for president three times and never won,” Christie added, “[Biden] wouldn’t be in office if weren’t for Trump. Joe Biden never beat anyone outside the state of Delaware except for one guy: Donald J. Trump.”

Christie also hit Trump, and his family, on the issue of character.

“The grift from this family is breathtaking,” Christie said. “It’s breathtaking. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Kushner walk out of the White House and months later get $2 billion from the Saudis?”

“We can’t dismiss the question of character anymore,” Christie added. “If we do, we get what we deserve.”

Christie acknowledged that Trump brought a showbiz spark to the campaign trail in 2016, and of course, Christie backed him at the time, too. But it’s time to move on.

“Eight years ago it was amusing. Eight years ago, you were entertained. I forgive you,” Christie said to laughter. “But it ain’t funny anymore.”

Christie’s performance Tuesday night was reminiscent of Trump’s early days on the campaign trail. He was having fun. Getting laughs. Taking some risks.

Trump, on the other hand, resembles comedian Lenny Bruce in his litigious last days, re-litigating his court cases and airing his grievances.

Chris Christie is going to have a lot of fun traveling across New Hampshire on the campaign trail. When was the last time anyone said the same about Donald Trump?

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Point: Republicans Falling Into the Same 2016 Trump Trap

For an alternative viewpoint, see: “Counterpoint: Not a 2016 Rerun–Trump Is a One-Trick Pony.”

A large field of qualified candidates is setting up the Republican primaries for a repeat of 2016.

No one expected political neophyte Donald Trump to suck up all of the oxygen in the 2016 Republican primaries when the party had one of the most qualified slates of candidates in recent memory. Sitting U.S. senators, popular current and former governors from important swing states, and a former CEO of a major company all shared the debate stage with Trump, and most expected their experience to rise above his media presence.

But experience as a legislator or executive didn’t matter. A long history of promoting Republican principles didn’t matter. Even ethical norms that have previously been well-established were out the window.

Trump masterfully harnessed the 24-hour news cycle and his Twitter prowess to control the narrative. While other candidates presented policy ideas, like Sen. Marco Rubio’s gas tax reduction or Gov. John Kasich’s prescient focus on banking regulations, their messages were drowned out.

Why did policy positions matter so little in 2016? The primaries became a nationwide reckoning, a moment when frustrated Americans sought a fighter who would demolish the broken system instead of merely applying Band-Aids. People craved radical change as the American dream crumbled, and the policy-focused candidates could only offer incremental solutions.

So here we are, on the cusp of another raucous primary season. What’s different this time? Some argue that Trump’s loss in 2020 and questions about his electability have opened the field. Others point to rising stars like Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Tim Scott as genuine potential contenders. Then there are the potential legal entanglements that might throw a wrench into Trump’s plans. And he’s no longer on Twitter, making it harder for him to dominate the news cycle.

However, let’s not forget that nobody believed Trump could win in 2016, and we all know how that turned out. Back then, stellar candidates with exceptional qualities ultimately fell short. Even more recently, Trump experienced a boost in polling after his indictment.

None of these factors fundamentally alter the dynamics of the furious voters who propelled Trump to victory before. And people are still unhappy. Fewer than 25 percent believe the country is on the right track, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

So where does this leave the other candidates?

If candidates try to out-Trump Trump, they fail. See Rubio’s “small hands” incident. Attacking him head-on has never proven to be an effective strategy. It has the added risk of turning off likely Trump voters — of which there are many.

Sadly, focusing on policy prescriptions is an exercise in futility. While there are indeed individuals who care about these issues, the ideas often go unheard amid the noise of the political landscape.

The 2016 primaries were by controversial statements, viral moments and media dramas overshadowing policy discussions. In the era of social media and 24/7 news coverage, the 2024 primaries will probably experience similar dynamics, favoring candidates who thrive in a chaotic and attention-seeking environment, which obviously tilts the race in favor of Trump.

This puts the other candidates in an impossible, unwinnable position.

The only way to avoid repeating 2016 is a numbers game. If there are still five or six candidates in the Iowa Caucus, the “never-Trump” voters will be spread out among the other candidates, making it impossible for someone else to come out on top. With a couple of quick victories in the early states, the sense of inevitability will swell, propelling the front-runner Trump toward the nomination.

Even if it were a one-on-one race, polling suggests that most Republican voters may still support Trump.

While the future remains uncertain, the similarities between the coming Republican primaries in 2024 and the 2016 election are too striking to ignore. A fragmented field, the enduring influence of Trump, and the party base’s motivations are all poised to shape the contest. However, as with anything related to Trump, uncertainty reigns. Anything could happen. But if I had to put my money on an outcome, it’s on history repeating itself.

DelVal First Time Voters Share Their Thoughts on 2024 Candidates

According to the U.S. Elections Project, 59.2 percent of people who were eligible to vote in the 2016 general election did so. That number increased to 66.6 percent in 2020.

With the 2024 presidential election on the horizon and 80-year-old President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, 76, already declaring their candidacies, the winning candidate will need to attract as many voters as possible from every age group.

What are young voters looking for in a candidate?

The DVJournal asked high school seniors who will be voting next year what qualities they find valuable in a presidential candidate and what they would want for a candidate in 2024. Like members of other generations, they had diverse answers.

Bucks County native Charlie Adams, 18, focused on strategies the president should take, along with the experience that he would like candidates to have.

“They should be able to adapt to our era now regardless of [their] age,” said Adams. “Also, background in government and prior experience with some form of military experience, as well, is sufficient for me.

“ In 2024, I would like all of these, but in someone younger and who understands social media and can relate with the people effectively,” said Adams.

“Any new candidate that has a focus on social media presence would have an advantage in the next election, as the new voters today have a lot more of a focus online for advertising and messages rather than television or newspapers, as candidates in the past have relied on,” he said.

Others, like Bucks County student Grace Kantra, 18, paid more attention to what the president’s mindset should be and what policy stances they would take.

“For me, the most valuable qualities would be having empathy and compassion for everyone and basing their ideas for America on our country’s needs and not their own personal agenda,” said Kantra. “I would really like someone who is in the middle of the road politically, not too extreme in their ideologies whether they be Democratic or Republican. And who’s willing to work together to compromise on pressing issues.

“I think recently we’ve had more extreme presidents who’ve really wanted to push a certain set of views, and it would be nice to have someone who was more willing to understand all perspectives and make more positive change for the U.S. as a whole and not just small groups,” she said. “Also, one specific quality I’m looking for is someone who supports women’s rights, is willing to fight for them, and blocks the idea of removing access to birth control for us in the future because that’s super scary to think about.”

However, it’s not a one size fits all. Some focused on policies they want to be changed. Chester County native Owen Langan, 18, said he “would love to see a candidate who is willing to fully stand behind Taiwan…[and] to focus on the opioid epidemic.”

He also said he would like systematic changes and “would like to see a candidate like Mitt Romney who strays away from the two-party system. Someone who is a third party or neither Democrat/Republican.”

That diversity of ways to approach this question shows how complex winning over the new generation will be for any presidential candidate, so much so that we may see fundamental changes in how the election is run in the next decade or two.

However, that does not mean there is no evidence that a preference exists. According to the Pew Research Center, voters in the youngest adult generations today–Generation Z (ages 18 to 23 in 2020) and the Millennial generation (ages 24 to 39 in 2020)–favored Biden over Trump by a margin of 20 percentage points.

In the next election, the Republican Party will most likely have to appeal more to Generation Z as it is historically disadvantaged in winning over this group. Regardless, the 2024 election will make history, and how the parties advertise to the youngest eligible generation could make or break their campaigns.

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McConnell Puts PA on GOP’s ’24 Top Four Target List, Touts McCormick

Congrats, Pennsylvania — You made Mitch McConnell’s final four.

In an interview with CNN, the Senate’s GOP leader laid out what he believes is the most likely path for Republicans to regain control, and it runs through four states: Montana, West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

McConnell and many GOP pundits say Republicans are on track in West Virginia, where popular Gov. Jim Justice has announced he plans to run for the seat currently held by Sen. Joe Manchin. The two-term Democrat has not said if he will run for reelection next year in a state Trump carried by 40 points in 2020.

The other states are less settled, particularly Pennsylvania, where Republican strategists believe Dave McCormick would have the best chance to stop Democrat Sen. Bob Casey from winning a record fourth term. But McCormick may have to get past state Sen. Doug Mastriano, who polls show remains popular with GOP primary voters despite his crushing defeat in last year’s gubernatorial race against now-Gov. Josh Shapiro.

According to CNN, McConnell and the NRSC “are expected to go all-out for McCormick, whom the GOP leader called a ‘high-quality candidate.’”

And what about Mastriano? “I think everybody is entitled to run. I’m confident the vast majority of people who meet Dave McCormick will be fine with him,” McConnell said.

“The Senate GOP Leader understands what nearly all Republican leaders here know,” Republican strategist Christopher Nicholas told DVJournal. “Only Dave McCormick can give Casey a run for his money in 2024.”

There has been little polling about a GOP primary, but the available data give Mastriano a lead. Pennsylvania GOP pros say the passion for Mastriano in the MAGA section of the party remains strong. At the same time, losing the Senate seat in 2022, particularly to John Fetterman, a left-of-center candidate with significant health issues, sent a shockwave through the state GOP, one source told DVJournal.

“There is no ‘MAGA’ magic,” the source said. “If they really don’t care about winning [the general election], then we just have to find a way to beat them.”

Republicans may need to pull out all the stops in Pennsylvania. In Montana, another state Trump carried big, popular incumbent Sen. Jon Tester (D) has already said he will run again, giving his party its best chance of holding the seat. And while Ohio has been trending red for more than a decade, incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) is a populist Democrat in the mold of Sen. Bernie Sanders. He may be particularly tough to beat, as well.

So even though Democrats have to defend more than twice as many seats as Republicans next year (23 to 11), McConnell laughed when asked if he was confident about the GOP’s chances.

“No, no – I’m not,” McConnell said. “I just spent 10 minutes explaining to you how we could screw this up, and we’re working very hard to not let that happen.”

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