Trump used the murder of US troops and the border situation to sell his general election pitch.
Donald Trump’s central general election argument is that President Joe Biden is weak and ineffective as events spiral out of control at home and overseas. And he’s casting himself as the strongman America requires to save itself.
The former president spent Saturday night in Nevada criticizing his successor’s southern border policies, describing them as a national security calamity waiting to happen. “There’s a 100% chance that there will be a major terrorist attack in the United States, so many attacks, maybe, and it’s all because of what’s happened over the last three years,” he told CNN. Nonetheless, Trump is attempting to reject a Senate compromise proposal that could alleviate the border issue, demonstrating his growing power in the GOP and his proclivity to exacerbate the instability he is exploiting as a justification for his campaign.
On Sunday, the ex-president took advantage of another situation for political gain. After three US Marines were killed in a drone assault in Jordan, Trump blamed Biden and his perceived lack of strength, arguing that current wars would never have occurred if he had been in the Oval Office. “(We) would now have global peace. Instead, we are on the verge of World War III,” Trump declared in a statement.
His attacks are gross simplifications of complex problems, as well as an exaggeration of his foreign policy, which was characterized primarily by cozying up to dictators and excoriating US allies, while transforming the United States, a source of global stability for decades, into a force for disruption.
However, Trump’s accusations highlight the actual political risk Biden confronts at home, as he grapples with the danger that a widening Middle Eastern war will drag the US back into a regional fight.
Trump’s demagogic descriptions of a besieged border and a world laughing at US weakness come at a time when many Americans are anxious about migrant flows at the southern border, as well as a multiplicity of perplexing global events and challenges to US dominance. The environment of disorder that Trump is attempting to promote coincides with some voters’ belief that the country is on the wrong track, particularly when high grocery costs and interest rates strain many family finances.
So Trump’s image of a world in disorder as Biden watches helplessly may have some political clout.
It is also designed to play on many Americans’ fears about Biden’s age and whether the 81-year-old is fit to lead the country for a second term.
Biden has attempted to respond by questioning Trump’s temperament and mental acuity in light of the former president’s own recent string of campaign trail gaffes, some erratic appearances outside courtrooms, and a self-absorbed victory speech following the New Hampshire primary last week.
How events abroad disrupted Biden’s campaign swing.
The news of the US killings in Jordan came as Biden was on a weekend tour through South Carolina, which included his most active campaigning in his reelection attempt to date, as well as his most heated attacks on his predecessor and potential successor.
On Saturday, Biden blasted Trump as a “loser,” presumably in an attempt to elicit indignant reactions that could alienate vital swing voters. He went to a barbershop, two churches, and a dinner ahead of the state’s first-in-the-nation Democratic primary next weekend, hoping to bolster support from Black voters, who are an important part of his coalition.
But the terrible news from the Middle East quickly eclipsed the trip. Biden requested a moment of silence before a Sunday meal with a Baptist congregation in honor of the “three brave souls” the US lost in the Middle East.
“We will respond,” he said.
The terrible interruption highlighted how presidents running for reelection must balance their responsibilities with their political interests, as well as how global crises might jeopardize their political futures.
Biden’s predicament is particularly severe because the expanding Middle East issue is occurring concurrently with the vexing home crisis across the southern border.
Trump recognizes the president’s exposure. After making a statement expressing “profound sympathies” to the relatives of the deceased and prayers for the about 30 individuals injured, he quickly went on the offensive.
“This brazen attack on the United States is yet another horrific and tragic consequence of Joe Biden’s weakness and surrender,” stated President Donald Trump.
Former US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Trump’s last remaining Republican opponent, also used the attack to portray Biden as weak. Haley, whose husband is a service member stationed overseas, advocated swift action to discourage Iran.
“It demonstrates that if Joe Biden had not been so soft on Iran, they would not be targeting our troops. “We must retaliate with the full force of American strength,” Haley stated.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina went even further, proposing that the US attack Iran directly, an option that, if implemented, could plunge the US into a terrible conflict with a formidable opponent and set the region on fire.
Trump is returning as a big political force.
The escalation of the general election campaign indicates Trump’s reemergence as a major political force following his first two victories in the Republican primary contest.
However, his harsh approach on immigration is revealing divisions inside the Republican Party, as a group of senators presses for an immigration enforcement package that they can sell to voters in November.
On Saturday night in Nevada, a key battleground, Trump referred to migrants, many of whom are fleeing political persecution and economic ruin in search of political refuge, as “criminals, rapists, murders, terrorists.”
He also launched his most public effort yet to derail the Senate’s agreement, which would allow the president to close the border between ports of entry when illegal crossings exceed a certain threshold, shorten the asylum process, and expedite work permits.
“As the head of our party, there is no way I will endorse this heinous open-borders betrayal of America. It won’t happen. “I’ll fight it all the way,” Trump declared. He also complimented House Speaker Mike Johnson as “very tough” and agreed with the Louisiana Republican’s warning that the bill would die on arrival in the House.
After months on the defensive on immigration, Biden attempted to exploit the issue over the weekend. He urged Republicans to adopt the bill in defiance of the former president, claiming it would give him “emergency authority to close the border until it can be controlled again.” If that bill were passed today, I would close the border immediately and fix it.”
One of the president’s Senate allies suggested Sunday that the border agreement may be completed this week.
“I was pleased to hear the president speak out so aggressively in support of this bill. I’m hopeful that there will still be enough Republicans in the Senate who want to fix the border rather than just do Donald Trump’s bidding, but we’ll see over the next 24 to 48 hours if that’s true,” Democratic Sen. Christopher Murphy of Connecticut told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”
The standoff has also reignited the long-standing feud between the former president and key Senate leaders like as Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and it could foretell the chaos that could ensue in a second Trump administration.
However, given the power of pro-Trump members in the House and the pressure Trump is putting on Johnson, it is nearly impossible to envision a way through Congress for the compromise. That would be bad news for Ukraine, as the immigration package is related to Biden’s latest proposal for $60 billion US help to counter Russia’s incursion. Trump also opposes the bill, demonstrating how his return to the center of Washington’s political universe is already having worldwide consequences.
Biden pushes campaign into high gear
Biden’s most cutting assaults on Trump yet were on display when he mentioned the former president’s unwillingness to attend a military ceremony in France while in office. Trump has denied calling US war dead “suckers and losers,” but Biden capitalized on the controversy in a state where the military and veterans are heavily involved. “The only loser I see is Donald Trump,” added Biden. “It makes me angry.”
The president also brought up Trump’s recent apparent mix-up of Haley and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, questioning the former president’s acuity and turning Trump’s assertions that he is incompetent against his 77-year-old competitor.
“He’s a little confused these days,” Biden explained.
And, on Sunday evening, the Biden campaign published a sarcastic reaction to the former president’s social media outburst against United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain after the union endorsed the current president last week.
“So…apparently losing the UAW endorsement to Joe Biden has left Donald Trump’s wounded ego with quite the SCAB,” according to a press release.
It remains to be seen whether people will believe the image Biden and his colleagues are attempting to build of Trump. However, his reemergence as the GOP’s presumptive nominee highlights the huge vulnerabilities that he would face in a general election.
The stunning spectacle on Friday of a jury deciding he should pay $83 million for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, whom he had already been found liable of sexually abusing and defaming in another civil case, exemplified the ex-president’s extreme legal threats and the character issues that alienated suburban voters in 2020 during his election defeat.
That case concluded with Washington still bracing for an appeals court verdict on Trump’s broad claims of presidential immunity, which could help decide whether his federal election meddling prosecution – one of four potential criminal trials – proceeds before Election Day in November.