“If Trump is reelected, it will be the end of the Republican Party.”
~Republican Strategist Mike Madrid.
The Sacramento Press Club hosted an event Thursday for Capitol media on “How to Beat Trump in 2020.” It was an event by and for the press dedicated to hearing party “strategists” speak about the best pathway forward to defeat President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
The Sacramento Press Club invitation said:Democrats are eager to stop President Trump from winning re-election, but they can’t agree on how best to do it: Fire up the base with a progressive candidate or appeal to disillusioned independent voters with a moderate?
Meanwhile, a group of prominent Republicans is now launching its own effort to defeat a man that they argue has been corrosive to politics and the country. The Lincoln Project seeks to convince conservatives, particularly in swing states, to vote against Trump in November.
With the California presidential primary just around the corner, come hear veteran strategists from both sides of the aisle share their thoughts on the state of the race and what it will take to beat Trump in 2020.
Politico California reporter Carla Marinucci moderated, and asked relevant, fair, and probing questions.
Mike Madrid and The Lincoln Project
Marinucci introduced Republican Strategist Mike Madrid as “outspokenly anti-Trump.” As the press release notes, Madrid helped launch the Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump effort started by George Conway to convince Conservatives to vote against the president in November.
Madrid, virulently anti-Donald Trump, was an odd choice for the Republican Strategist, given that he and his Democrat counterpart weren’t oppositional strategists at all.
The Lincoln Project mission is to “Defeat President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box” (emphasis, theirs). “This is our mission and our duty,” they say on their website.
Madrid spends a great deal of time Tweeting negative messages about Trump:
Donald Trump pressured a foreign power to investigate his political opponent. If he is not impeached, it sets a bad precedent & encourages future Presidents to engage in the same behavior. Worse it gives HIM license to engage in the same behavior.
— Mike Madrid (@madrid_mike) December 18, 2019
Nancy Pelosi is the only politician – Republican or Democrat – who consistently makes Donald Trump look like a fool after their conflicts. pic.twitter.com/sQGkh4zruj
— Mike Madrid (@madrid_mike) October 17, 2019
Let’s make this really clear – if you work for a candidate, office holder or party that supports Trump you are working for the nationalist xenophobic vision he’s advocating for. The way you create a post Trump party is be speaking out against it – not being quiet. Follow? https://t.co/BhSJCK0WXt
— Mike Madrid (@madrid_mike) December 6, 2019
Never been prouder to stand with this group of warriors. @gtconway3d @TheRickWilson @NHJennifer @reedgalen @SteveSchmidtSES @jwgop We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated https://t.co/1Zqq3lSGkf
— Mike Madrid (@madrid_mike) December 17, 2019
“President Trump will be hard to beat”
Democrat Strategist Bill Burton sounded realistic about Trump’s impact and 2020 outlook, noting “President Trump will be hard to beat,” as it is with most incumbents.
Marinucci asked Madrid, “what put you over the edge with Trump?”
“I happened to be in New York with my girlfriend when he came down the elevator and started this whole fiasco,” Madrid said. “The Republican Party isn’t what it once was.” Madrid asked at what point will real conservatives stand up and take it back.
“When we finally said enough – enough of the embarrassing parroting – it was bad – we recognized elected leadership was never going to stand up. That moved us to do it,” Madrid said.
Before the talk was over, Madrid said he wrote in Vin Scully for President in 2016, rather than cast a vote for Donald Trump.
Marinucci asked what the messages of the Republican and Democratic Party are. “Is the Republican Party still about less government, and free trade…?”
Madrid said it’s been a real “social phenomena.” He said Trump raised taxes, tariffs, free trade and violated many policies.
The cult of personality
“It’s become a party much more tribal, focused on racial cues,” Madrid said. He added that it’s become like the National Front Party, a right-leaning populist and nationalist political party in France. Madrid said one-third of the French electorate is a part of, wanting “to bring France back,” but is driven by Marine Le Pen’s personality.
Madrid said with Trump, it’s also the cult of personality. He sees some of this in Bernie Sanders’ campaign as well.
“People no longer have confidence in the system, so they latch on to a persona, a personality,” Madrid said. “It is a sign of populism.”
“If Bernie Sanders was to win the nomination, we would have populists on both sides — a sign of a collapse of the system.”
Marinucci asked Bill Burton about his concerns about the Democratic Party going too far to the left.
He said the populist wing has gone too far left. “In America almost everything we do has been disrupted – how you get a cab, a plane ticket. But politics has not.”
Burton noted the issue of healthcare, saying Democrats are on the precipice of giving up the advantage of healthcare. “Look at the 206 counties in the country where Obama won twice and Trump won once….” They are overwhelmingly white, blue collar, and receive their healthcare plans from their labor unions, Burton said.
Burton said Medicare For All would take away their health coverage and give them Obamacare. “Some of the policies are just not going to win with them.”
Madrid said it is no surprise the Republican Party in California is speaking to the fastest shrinking demographic: the “white, non-educated, evangelical voter.”
“The Republican Party is hemorrhaging here so fast, so every time he (Trump) articulates his message, he is anthrax to the California Republican Party,” Madrid said.
Madrid predicted in the 2020 election, the House will lose four Republican seats, and the Senate will lose 3-4 seats. “If Trump is reelected, it will be the end of the Republican Party,” Madrid added. “We are reminding suburban college educated voters, this is not the party you want to be associated with anymore.”
Bill Burton said Trumps’ reelection keeps him up at night. “Trump has more voters to draw from. This is what happened last time around.” Because Burton said, “the Obama coalition can’t be reassembled (without Obama at the helm) – it does not exist.”
Burton noted that “African American voters will decide in large part who the Democratic nominee will be, and how that nominee will behave in certain states.”
The effect of impeachment
Marinucci asked about the effects impeachment has on Republican voters: “are they fired up, energized?”
Burton said “People already like or don’t like Trump.”
“Most people won’t break ranks with Trump until they see him become a political liability,” Madrid said. “You will see the dam break – in a few years there is going to be a complete rewrite of history where there will be no report of supporting Donald Trump.”
Madrid said people will say, “I don’t know how he got elected.”
Burton said, “in the short term, with Trump taking out a leader of a sovereign nation without consequence, I don’t agree with Mike… that necessarily people will deny Trump.”
“We can bend toward our values or bend toward the Trump mentality… the start of something really dark,” Burton said. “He has no respect for the rule of law, or the values I teach my kids.” This is what is Trump 2.0 will look like, he said. “Dark.”
Marinucci asked, “(Steve) Bannon said if Trump is able to peel off some of Democrat voters, he will win.”
“We are seeing the weakness of a lot of incumbents spending money against … . I do believe Reps will lose 4 seats in the house,” Madrid said. “I do believe that Trump, elected or not, is the beginning of an era, and the end of an era. So was Obama. We will look back on both.”
“This changes the political construct,” Madrid added. “I believe we are at the end of the two-party system. We are going to see some disruption, as most other segments of our society has…”
“In the very near future, we will see how that ends.”
The effect of the economy
Marinucci asked about Trump and the economy, and said a Politico reporter believes Trump will be reelected, based on the economy.
Burton played down the Trump economy, saying in general, as economies get better, as it did during Obama’s administration, President Obama’s numbers got better.
He said as the economy continues to grow and grow, it doesn’t really affect the President’s numbers.
Wall Street and Marinucci’s reporter know differently.
Trump and California
Marinucci said Trump has been tweeting a lot about California, and particularly Governor Gavin Newsom. What is going on?”
Madrid said the other 49 states are not like California. “California represents two fundamentally different directions anathema to Trump’s base voters:
- Culturally progressive SF values
- Racial change /conflict is the changing face of voting.”
“When he runs against California, he’s not just talking about homelessness on streets of San Francisco, he’s talking about illegal aliens stealing elections. Fear. The ‘Latinization’ of America.”
“You want homelessness, and high taxes… look at California,” Marinucci said.
Burton said, “he’ll try to divide based on some of our progress on transgender rights.”
The Democratic candidates
Marinucci wanted to discuss specific candidates: “Biden is leading in California. Is he the strongest one?” she asked.
“Biden is someone who can speak to that crossover voter,” Madrid said. “Rallying people of color in most states isn’t going to work. He needs some appeal to white identity voters.”
“Trump fears Biden the most,” Burton said. “He (Biden) exudes this return to normalcy.”
Marinucci asked if millennial Bernie/Warren supporters will sit out the election?
“Sanders fascinates me as much as Donald Trump does for the same reasons,” Madrid said. “Bernie isn’t serving your interests either. Bernie Sanders is the populist left, Trump is populist right. It’s about top and bottom now – haves and have nots.”
“Bernie Sanders came within 7 points of taking on Hillary Clinton. Bernie isn’t dropping out of the race – Bernie’s going all the way.” Because, Madrid noted, “there is no reason to drop out of this race going into the Democratic convention. Then, if there aren’t enough votes at the convention, then the super delegates come in and decide, and that’s an anti-Bernie.”
“This will be decided at the convention,” Burton said. “Hide the kids.”
The Bloomberg factor
“Bloomberg is running to beat Trump as much as he is running to get elected,” Madrid said. His message is anti-Trump, not pro-Bloomberg.”
Madrid also said it will be very difficult for Bloomberg to get the vote back from African American voters.
“Some of the ads for these candidates, you can hear Carly Simon singing in the background, ‘You probably think this song is about you,'” Burton said about Democratic candidates campaigning about themselves rather than issues important to voters. Tom Steyer’s ads come to mind.
“The Democratic nominee has to be positioned on issues that matter at the most… not when Trump says a bad word” Burton added.
Madrid said Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the worst possible nominees Democrats can put up. “Trump is good at keeping his enemies off message.”
“There are enough Republicans to say ‘I can’t be complicit in this anymore’ and not vote for Trump. We think there is a lot of runway here,” Madrid said. “(Steve) Bannon said if we get 3-5% it will bring a tectonic shift, particularly in the battleground states.”
“We’re becoming a more racially polarized country”
Madrid said “whites are now starting to vote monolithically. White voters are split in California – half are very liberal, half are very conservative. There may be racial indicators.”
“We are becoming a more racially polarized country.”
“Gender has traditionally been a luxury of white women… women have voted overwhelmingly with their racial cohorts. This is changing in the Trump era. Latinos are now generational – under 30, voting for Bernie. Over 30 vote for Biden.”
“Women are much more open minded than men. Men have the same voting at 18 as 78.”
“The California Republican Party is 80% white,” Madrid said. “It is not speaking to any constituency beyond that, and is in fact doubling down on that.”
One member of the audience told Madrid she had invested in his Lincoln Project since Day one – “Where are you going to go with it?”
Madrid said the main objective is to beat Donald Trump in 2020. “Equally important is those who have bought into Trumpism. They need to lose their seats” in the House/Senate, he added.
He said the Lincoln Project is trying to “chisel off just enough, so that that aspect of the Party is never successful again. We are going at key Republican constituencies…”
Marinucci reminded everyone that the topic was “how to beat Trump – how does Trump win?”
“God, I hope he doesn’t win, but he’s got a lot,” Burton said. “Right now it’s a tossup.”
I registered my skepticism prior to the Sacramento Press Club event, because of the theme, and never having seen an invitation to such a club event on “How to Beat Obama in 2012.” But Marinucci did an excellent job staying on topic, even with Madrid’s obsession with Donald Trump.
— Katy Grimes (@KATYSaccitizen) January 9, 2020