The Perfect Enemy | Analysis | The Trailer: How DeSantis and other GOP candidates are ditching ‘legacy media’ for friendly outlets
August 11, 2022

Analysis | The Trailer: How DeSantis and other GOP candidates are ditching ‘legacy media’ for friendly outlets

Analysis | The Trailer: How DeSantis and other GOP candidates are ditching ‘legacy media’ for friendly outlets  The Washington Post

Read Time:26 Minute

In this edition: Why some Republicans are done with “legacy” media, what we learned from Maryland’s primaries, and why many Democrats – including the nominee for governor of South Carolina – are done with President Biden.

On a mission to write the least-fun story possible from a casino, this is The Trailer.

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Seven Republicans were crammed onstage, and Mark Levin had found the question that divided them. 

“So, Ukraine — don’t be directly involved?” the author and radio host asked the candidates for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. 

“I would not any direct military or economic assistance,” said state Rep. Anthony Sabatini. 

“So, what would you do?” asked Levin. 

“Watch,” said Sabatini. “We can’t be involved in all the world’s affairs while our country is going to h—.”

Levin followed up, teasing out Sabatini’s positions on NATO and foreign policy. But the Orlando-area news media that covers the new 7th Congressional District wasn’t watching. The only public recording of the exchange was taken by The Floridian, one of the 10 conservative media outlets that got access to the annual Sunshine Summit — a Florida GOP conference that had previously been filmed by C-SPAN, when it hosted candidates running for president. The Trailer also independently obtained audio of the debate.

As the number of local media outlets shrink, and as alternative media outlets boom, Republicans are finding less use for what they disparagingly call “fake news” — or, more diplomatically, the “legacy media.” Social media, and decades of investment in conservative outlets, have made it easy to reach voters outside of the “legacy” filter. 

In Pennsylvania, four Republicans running for governor briefly demanded a Republican debate moderator as a condition for facing off; Doug Mastriano, who won the nomination, kept media outlets out of his closing rallies. In Missouri, two leading candidates in the GOP’s U.S. Senate primary avoided televised debates; one of them, ex-Gov. Eric Greitens, only committed to a debate run by two conservative news sites.

“Donald Trump might be the last president to be elected with a majority of CNN hits,” said Matt Schlapp, the president of the American Conservative Union and its CPAC conferences. “There is just so much hostility within legacy media toward people with our point of view that you do have to ask yourself — after all these experiences, is it even worth it to try?”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who had selected Levin to moderate two of the debates, presided over an “invite-only” conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. While a few more outlets were permitted to cover his dinner speech on Saturday, DeSantis talked proudly about keeping them out of the day-long conference — the debates, speeches from legislative and statewide GOP leaders, and talks by prominent conservative pundits.

“We in the state of Florida are not going to allow legacy media outlets to be involved in our primaries,” DeSantis reportedly told the crowd of more than a thousand conservatives, who had paid at least $100 to attend the summit. “I’m not going to have a bunch of left-wing media people asking our candidates gotcha questions.” 

A campaign spokeswoman followed up those remarks with a tweet aimed at “fake news journalists” — a picture of DeSantis onstage.

“How’s the view from outside security?” she asked.

The campaign committed to the bit; questions about how the credentialed outlets were selected, or whether anyone was recording the debates for the record, went unanswered. Reporters who were kept outside wrote stories anyway, cadging recordings of the conference and talking to attendees and candidates.

Those stories portrayed DeSantis as a growing force in the party, the only one Florida conservatives considered as an alternative to Trump, who’d once blocked media outlets he didn’t like from his rallies. Humbling the “legacy media” was, obviously, a political winner. The Floridian, whose founder was named the 2011 CPAC “blogger of the year,” mocked the “media meltdown” from “a small group of liberal crybaby bloggers,” while publishing some of the only videos that made it out of the hotel ballroom.

Conservatives who covered the conference said that they were frustrated with what they saw as relentless media negativity, pointing to the coverage DeSantis got during the covid-19 pandemic, when he lifted restrictions far more quickly than governors in more liberal states. 

“I think that there’s a level of the mainstream media that, instead of highlighting good things, wants to destroy things, in a way,” said Will Witt, who had founded The Florida Standard last month after more than four years working at the conservative video outlet Prager U. “I want to highlight the good things about the state of Florida, the things that are happening here that are actually making people’s lives better, like the economy. I want to put out straight news reporting, not a narrative.”

That’s how plenty of readers and voters feel about their political leaders — Democrats, too. Since last summer, after the violent withdrawal of Americans and refugees from Afghanistan, some liberals blamed negative media coverage for the president’s falling poll numbers on what they said was a “both-sideism” that the news media engaged in after relentlessly negative coverage of Trump. 

Democrats tend to have higher trust in “the media,” defined broadly, than Republicans; according to Gallup’s semiannual survey of faith in public institutions — and that trust spiked during a presidency that referred to critical outlets as “the enemy of the people.” In last week’s update, Gallup found that Democrats were seven times as likely to have faith in newspapers as Republicans, and three times as likely to have faith in TV news.

Those skeptical Republicans now have an array of sources that deliver political news they trust, including podcasts and TV shows that interview Republicans without what DeSantis called “gotcha” questions. This spring, when the Republican National Committee voted to stop participating in the Commission on Presidential Debates, the reasons ranged from criticism of Trump, to a schedule that started after early voting began in some states, to how some of the commission’s members had criticized the former president. 

“Our optimistic, conservative Republican message resonates with Americans,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel wrote after the vote in Breitbart, founded 15 years ago as a bulwark to legacy media coverage and narrative-spinning. “That’s why many of our nation’s most powerful institutions — like Big Tech, academia, and some legacy media outlets — work overtime to ensure that we aren’t given a level playing field.”

Cutting some media out of the process wasn’t an RNC invention. It’s also been 15 years since Democrats running for president agreed not to appear in a debate hosted by Fox News, and just three years since the party’s last group of presidential candidates debated whether even to appear in Fox-hosted town halls. 

Republican media skepticism runs deeper, and the tools are there to work around the outlets they’ve stopped trusting. In March, when a super PAC called A Stronger Texas Fund hosted a debate in the state’s deep red 8th Congressional District, the organizers tapped ex-Fox Nation host Lara Logan as their moderator. Logan’s discursive questions sometimes threw off the candidates. 

But the organizers were thrilled. Logan, they said, had focused on topics that other media might not have bothered with, like a donation that Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) had made to Morgan Luttrell, the eventual winner of the race.

In Florida, it wasn’t clear what all the Republicans in the congressional debates had been asked. But the coverage on conservative outlets was positive, and highlighted the differences that Levin — and DeSantis, who sat in as a moderator briefly — had gotten the candidates to clear up. On Saturday night, when DeSantis told his familiar story of standing up to liberal orthodoxy, he might as well have been talking about the media blowoff.

“I have friends across the country,” DeSantis reportedly told his audience. “They say all they do is watch Florida, because they figure three months later, their state may get around and doing what we’re doing.”

Reading list

“Trump, Pence stump for rival GOP gubernatorial hopefuls in Arizona,” by Yvonne Wingett Sanchez and Colby Itkowitz

Who doesn’t love a 2024 showdown in 2022?

“A government official helped them register. Now they’ve been charged with voter fraud,” by Bianca Fortis

The victims of Florida’s ex-felon voter trap.

“Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6,’” by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey

How has the select committee affected the ex-president’s image?

“How rural America learned to love the Republican Party,” by Alan Greenblatt

The making of red Kentucky.

“Dems fume at Disney’s Hulu for blocking ads on abortion, guns,” by Michael Scherer

The mouse makes enemies, left and right.

“Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump give dueling Florida speeches, testing GOP activists allegiances,” by Zac Anderson and Stephany Matat

Two Florida men enter, one Florida man leaves.

“In Nevada, a Democratic senator tries to fend off GOP momentum on the economy,” by Hannah Knowles

Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election strategy.

“Ilhan’s country,” by Armin Rosen

A comprehensive profile of the squadster with the most enemies.

“The Claremont Institute triumphed in the Trump years. Then came Jan. 6.,” by Marc Fisher and Isaac Stanley-Becker

The Flight 93 think tank.

Turnout watch

The counting isn’t over in Maryland’s July 19 primary, and one of the most bitter intra-Democratic battles — the primary for Montgomery County executive — remains too close to call. But we know most of the winners and losers from last week, and know enough about the turnout patterns to see what mattered.

The MAGA right won statewide, with (and without) Democrats’ help. It happened again: National Democrats jumped into a Republican primary, boosted a candidate who struggled to raise money, and helped demolish a more moderate candidate who looked more dangerous in their polling. Term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R) hit the trail for Kelly Schulz, a longtime cabinet secretary in his popular administration; state Del. Dan Cox, who had sued Hogan over pandemic restrictions and ushered protesters to Washington for “Stop the Steal” rallies, won after a $1.1 million DGA ad buy.

“There’s no question this was a big win for the Democratic Governors Association that I think spent over $3 million trying to promote this guy,” Hogan said in a Sunday morning interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, overstating the Democratic investment. “And it was basically collusion between Trump and the national Democrats, who propped this guy up and got him elected.” Cox, he added, would not get his vote.

Democrats pushed back by saying they had merely told voters which candidate agreed with them — the less electable one. “I think the DGA wants to make sure they educate the public early and often about these candidates,” said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, the chairman of the DGA, in an interview outside the group’s conference in Santa Monica last week. “It’s also important to point out that most of these candidates in these primaries embrace the big lie, and certainly end up lining up in the MAGA camp.”

As popular as Hogan was, Democrats had the stronger hand — and partly because their voters were so fond of Hogan. The governor, who wrote in Ronald Reagan for president in 2020, had alienated a large segment of the GOP base by primary day. Those voters picked un-Hogan-like candidates, even when Democrats didn’t help them out. Democrats ignored the GOP primary for attorney general, where far-right attorney Michael Peroutka faced Jim Shalleck, the former chairman of Montgomery County’s Board of Elections. As of Tuesday morning, Peroutka had won 56 percent of the vote in his primary, and Cox had won 53 percent in his, with another 3 percent going to right-wing gadfly candidate Robin Ficker. (A fourth candidate for governor, Joe Werner, ran as a moderate and came in under 2 percent.) The no-more-Hogans vote was consistent.

Democratic voters went for diversity, but not the left. In Baltimore, state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby narrowly lost to a challenger who promised to reverse some of her more lenient policies. That wasn’t the only reason the scandal-plagued Mosby lost; if she wasn’t facing a trial on perjury charges, she might have pulled it out. But Baltimore is the latest city where a Democratic electorate removed a city attorney who stopped prosecuting low-level offenses, following the recall of ex-San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin last month.

In Montgomery County, a rematch between County Executive Marc Elrich and challenger David Blair will come down to hundreds of ballots; Elrich’s 2018 win was just as close. In the 4th Congressional District, ex-Rep. Donna F. Edwards handily lost a seat she’d previously represented for eight years, the latest victory for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the PACs in its political network. The crowded gubernatorial primary didn’t break down on left/center-left lines, but author Wes Moore prevailed over candidates — including ex-Obama cabinet members Tom Perez and John King — who won endorsements from local liberal groups.

Turnout didn’t break records, but Republicans got close. With most of the vote counted, turnout in the Democratic gubernatorial primary is about to edge past the 585,687 total ballots cast in 2018 — the highest since 1986, when turnout cracked 600,000. Republicans were on track to match or slightly exceed the 278,792 ballots cast in 2010, their previous peak for primary voting. 

Another way to put that? While Hogan went on to be one of the country’s most popular governors, Republicans were more engaged with this race than with either of the primaries he won. Fewer than 215,000 ballots were cast in both 2014 and 2018, when Hogan won his first and second nominations. Kelly Schulz’s current total of 114,770 votes would have been enough to secure the nomination in either of those years.

DCCC, “Handpicked.” It’s one of the cycle’s hottest and most polarizing trends: Democrats spending money on ads that highlight a “too conservative candidate,” wagering that helping that candidate win the Republican nomination would boost their own chances in the general election. (Read more about that below.) This spot for Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District portrays John Gibbs, a Trump administration appointee whose tweets about far-right conspiracy theories ended his chance at a Senate confirmation, as a MAGA candidate who checks every box — for “patriotic education,” endorsed by Trump.

American Prosperity Alliance, “Too Much DC.” How do you turn a popular idea into a negative ad? It’s not hard — this is the second spot this year that describes legislation that would cut Medicare costs by letting the government negotiate some drug prices as a policy that would “cut $300 billion from Medicare.” The same policy Democrats can’t wait to run on, if their reconciliation package passes, gets reframed as a plan to hurt seniors. The careful viewer might notice that the ad doesn’t cite anything (articles, studies) to back up its spin.

Tim Ryan for Ohio, “Just the Facts.” A few Ohio Republicans have worried out loud about Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Ohio) campaign for U.S. Senate, which has outraised GOP nominee J.D. Vance and outspent him on TV ads. Half of Ryan’s ads play up his own roots in Youngstown and his votes against free trade deals; the other half elevate negative stories about Vance, like this attack based on a 2021 Business Insider investigation of Our Ohio Renewal, the nonprofit Vance founded after “Hillbilly Elegy” made him a Rust Belt phenom. 

Saving Arizona PAC, “Jim Lamon is China’s Man.” We’re seeing more anti-China ads this year, and less concern than a few years ago about using Asian stereotypes. (Ask ex-Rep. Peter Hoekstra how that can backfire.) This spot from the Peter Thiel-funded PAC, which supports Blake Masters in the U.S. Senate Republican primary, features a gong that gets banged every time a narrator says something about Lamon’s business ties to China, even accusing him of being “associated with forced slave labor.”

United Democracy Project, “Party Line.” In nearly every race where this PAC has spent money, it’s attacked its Democratic target as a closet Republican. The targets often point out that the PAC’s donors have given millions to Republicans. But the ads keep coming, and this one insists that state Rep. Shri Thanedar, who has written seven-figure checks to his House primary campaign, is a disloyal Democrat who “voted with every single Republican” on a gun bill.

Mandela Barnes for Wisconsin, “Made in America.” All of Barnes’s ads have emphasized his family story (“My mom was a teacher, and my dad worked third shift”) and pitted it against “millionaires” who he says are skewing policy against the working class, a way to mention Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) without using his name. This spot goes after outsourcing, without getting too specific about how to stop it: “When we manufacture things here, our shelves are stocked, and it creates jobs you can raise a family on.”

Ashley Kalus, “Failing Us.” Most Democratic governors have polled better than President Biden this summer. Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee, who got the job after Biden brought ex-Gov. Gina Raimondo into his cabinet, is not one of those governors. Kalus has tried to turn a weakness — she only became a Rhode Island resident this year — into an “outsider” theme, and this spot portrays the president and the governor as “career politicians and elites” who can’t fix problems. 

Maloney for Congress, “A Woman’s Job.” When the new, court-drawn lines for south Manhattan’s congressional district were drawn, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) got crammed together, two-time Maloney challenger Suraj Patel kept running, and Justice Democrats-endorsed Maloney challenger Rana Abdelhamid dropped out. That left Maloney as the only woman running, and this ad makes sure you know about her record on women’s rights — starting with the Roe v. Wade decision, weaving through her campaigns for legal abortion and paid family leave. “Being at the forefront of women’s rights has taught me we can fight back and win,” she says. 

Poll watch

“If the election were today, would you want to see the Republican Party or the Democratic Party win control of the United States House of Representatives?” (Quinnipiac University, July 14-18, 1523 adults)

Democratic Party: 45% (+4 since June)
Republican Party: 44% (-2)
Don’t know: 11% (-2)

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was a generational victory for the conservative movement. The cost to Republicans, so far, has been a small decline in support on the generic ballot. And we mean small – in an average of all generic ballot polls this summer, what was a 3-point Republican lead before the leak of the draft Dobbs decision two months ago is now a 1-point lead. At this point in 2014, before a great set of results for the GOP, Democrats actually held a similar, margin-of-error lead in the race for Congress. 

The difference? Biden is, by some measures, even less popular now than Barack Obama was at this point in 2014, with lower approval ratings from key demographic groups and most Americans saying he shouldn’t run for reelection. It’s not that the Democratic Party is that much more popular than Biden; the Republican Party is viewed negatively, too, and most voters haven’t tuned in to the midterms yet.

“Who is your first choice for the 2024 Democratic nomination?” (Granite State Poll, July 21-25, 430 likely Democratic voters)

Pete Buttigieg: 17%
Joe Biden: 16%
Elizabeth Warren: 10%
Gavin Newsom: 10%
Amy Klobuchar: 9%
Bernie Sanders: 8%
Kamala Harris: 6%
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 5%
Hillary Clinton: 3%
Stacey Abrams: 3%
Cory Booker: 2%
Gretchen Whitmer: 1%
Chris Murphy: 1%
J.B. Pritzker: 0%

Here’s one way to look at this: For Biden, second place in a New Hampshire would be a vast improvement. Here’s the honest way to look at this: We are drowning in evidence that Democratic voters don’t want the president to seek another term. This poll’s sample, designed to capture the elastic primary electorate of independents and registered Democrats, finds it turning away from elderly candidates in general and Biden in particular. Seventy-five percent of Democrats – not the whole primary sample, but Democrats – say that they are concerned with Biden’s age, should he run for president again. And while there’s no way to prevent the occasional slow-news column about Hillary Clinton running again, New Hampshire voters don’t think about her at all. Their preference: Another wide-open field.

If the 2022 general election for U.S. senator were held today, who would you vote for? (Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics, July 13-18, 801 registered voters)

Mike Lee (R): 41% (-2 since March)
Evan McMullin (I): 36% (+17)
Someone else: 14%
Don’t know: 8% (-16)

Utah Democrats voted this summer to back McMullin’s campaign for Senate instead of fielding their own candidate, after decades of being completely uncompetitive in statewide races. That immediately consolidated Democratic voters behind McMullin, a Republican-turned-independent who ran a strong third-place campaign for president in Utah six years ago – when the GOP electorate there was much more sour on Trump. The combined vote for McMullin and a Democrat this spring, before the party’s deal, was 30 percent, so the candidate has slightly improved on that without cutting into the conservative Trump skeptics that he needs to make the race competitive. It’s in single digits now thanks to support for two third party candidates, which is unusually high here, compared to the 6 percent that went to third party candidates when Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) ran (and won) as a Trump-endorsed occasional Trump critic.

In the states

Michigan. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee borrowed a trick from the Democratic Governors Association, putting $425,000 behind an ad that calls John Gibbs, a Trump-endorsed challenger to Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), too conservative for the 3rd Congressional District. Meijer’s one of the few remaining House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob; Democrats see the new seat, which went for Joe Biden by 8 points in 2020, as more winnable if Gibbs beats Meijer.

In a statement to The Trailer, Meijer campaign spokeswoman Emily Taylor said that Democrats were showing that they “don’t want to face” the congressman in the general election.

“The DCCC boosting John Gibbs is clear evidence of who Nancy Pelosi prefers in this race,” said Taylor. “We are confident that voters will see through Democrats’ political games while Peter remains focused on the issues that matter most to the people he represents.” 

The DCCC did not comment when asked about the strategy, which, like the DGA’s buys, got condemnation from the left and right — including from ex-Obama strategist David Axelrod.

Wisconsin. Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson abandoned his bid for the Democrats’ U.S. Senate nomination, saying flat-out that he “ran out of money” in a race where self-funding Milwaukee Bucks VP Alex Lasry and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski had dominated the airwaves. Lasry has loaned his campaign more than $12 million; Godlewski loaned hers a bit less than $4 million. Nelson, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2010 and for a House seat in 2016, raised less than $2 million.

“I am suspending our campaign and endorsing the one candidate who is not trying to buy this election,” Nelson wrote on Twitter, announcing his support for Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. National liberal groups and party figures, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), had largely gotten behind Barnes; Nelson had been a DNC delegate for Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — For two years, Joe Cunningham represented Charleston and other parts of coastal South Carolina in the House. He lost reelection narrowly in 2020, one of several moderate Democrats who surprised his party — and their pollsters — when Republican turnout flipped a number of seats that the GOP had lost in Trump’s first midterm election. 

Republicans redrew that seat to protect new Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), and Cunningham ran for governor, capturing the Democratic nomination last month with a campaign that’s portrayed Republican Gov. Henry McMaster as too old and out-of-touch to lead the traditionally conservative state. Cunningham sat down with The Trailer during last week’s Democratic Governors Association meeting in southern California; this is an edited transcript of the conversation.

The Trailer: What’s been happening in South Carolina since the Dobbs decision?

Joe Cunningham: I think the ground shifted completely. It’s like it’s opened up a whole different campaign. 

TT: One thing we’re hearing from blue state governors is that they’re be an economic cost for states that ban abortion. That hasn’t happened in Texas not yet, anyway. Has that happened in South Carolina?

JC: I talked to a lot of people in the business community and they say they’re going to have trouble attracting companies. Think about it. Are you going want to relocate your family into a state that has become so hostile to women and women’s reproductive rights? If someone has a chance to expand a business in South Carolina, or to expand in North Carolina, what are you going to choose?

TT: Let’s say it’s 2023, you’re governor, and there’s enough of a backlash along the lines you’re talking about that the legislature revisits this issue. What do you want to sign? 

JC: We had a 20-week law in South Carolina. Let’s just keep at that. Let’s just go back to that the way the way that it was. What’s on the ballot this coming November is South Carolina’s freedom. We want our freedoms; we want our liberties. We want our women to have the freedom to control their own bodies. We want our veterans to have freedom — they give so much for our country, and if they want access to medical marijuana, they should have that freedom. 

We’re going to go across this state with a megaphone, making sure that people know exactly what he this governor has done. History shows that once you take someone’s freedom, it takes a long time to get it back. Tens of years. Hundreds of years. We know where Gov. McMaster has been on gay marriage. I don’t know where he is on the right to contraception. But if they’re willing to tell a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy that she can’t have an abortion, who knows what else they’ll do?

TT: Okay it’s still 2023, you’re governor, and the legislature sends you a version of Florida’s parental rights bill, which Democratic critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. They cross out “Florida,” and write in “South Carolina.” What do you do with that bill?

JC: I think there’s a difference between a bill that spews hatred versus a bill that rips rights away from parents. I do think parents need a say-so on what teachers teach their kids. I’ve seen some things that concern me, too. I think there are lessons that aren’t age appropriate beneath a certain grade — that people shouldn’t have conversations about sexuality with kids before their parents get to. Democrats can’t just push all this aside and paint everything with a broad brush. 

TT: If you’d been governor this last year, would you have vetoed the transgender sports ban bill? 

JC: Yes, but it’s important to remember — there’s a process in place in South Carolina, and I think maybe two kids have gone through that process. We politicians are using these kids as political pawns. It’s because they’re bankrupt on solutions for other ideas. We literally have the worst infrastructure in the country. Our starting pay for teachers is $36,000 a year at our school. Our schools are some of the worst in the country. And this is where they spend their time? It doesn’t make our lives any better. We’ve got to tackle inflation, and Gov. McMaster refuses to suspend the gas tax. 

TT: But McMaster, or really any Republican, would say that inflation is Joe Biden’s doing.

JC: South Carolina had their share of problems before Joe Biden was elected. The pandemic tore the thin veneer off of the problems we have, and the governor wants to blame Biden for all of them. We’ve had a failure of leadership for decades, and he’s been in politics as long as Biden has. I’ve been very clear saying that we need a new generation of leadership.

TT: Is it legitimate to ask the same question about Biden whether he should run again, at his age?

JC: Yeah, and I have. I can’t sit there and tell you with a straight face that Gov. McMaster is too old to govern, and not confront the problems in my own party. Biden shouldn’t run for another term. He should step aside and allow for a new generation of leadership. You mean to tell me, out of hundreds of thousands of people in our country, that as you look toward 2024, Biden and Trump are the best we have?

TT: In 2020, after he won South Carolina, Biden said he was a “bridge” to the future; how often did you hear people say something like that, as why they were voting for him?

JC: Plenty, and he said that, too! And so here we are two years later, we’re driving across this bridge, and folks are like: What’s on the other side? 

TT: If he decided not to run, should the vice president be the nominee?

Joe Cunningham: I don’t think there’s any heir apparent. I would love to see a big field, including lots of Democratic governors. Step up and show people what you’ve done.

TT: What could the Biden administration do in the next four months that would help you run for governor? What should it be doing?

JC: There’s a lot of things people aren’t doing. People have lost confidence in government. That’s been before Biden was elected. I was in Congress long enough to loathe the Senate and know that hardly anything gets through there. I wish Biden would be more vocal about letting states regulate marijuana — it’s up to him why it’s not, maybe it’s a generational thing. But I don’t want to blame Biden for any of my shortcomings. That’s what McMaster’s been doing.

… seven days until primaries in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington
… 14 days until primaries in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and the special House election in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District
… 21 days until primaries in Alaska and Wyoming
… 28 days until primaries in Florida and runoffs in Oklahoma
… 112 days until the midterm elections

2022 Election Calendar