A Bad Weekend for Ron DeSantis and RFK Jr.; Joe Manchin in N.H. Today
Author: Greg Valliere
July 17, 2023
PERHAPS THE BIGGEST POLITICAL STORY of the summer has been the free-fall of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who began this year looking like a formidable challenger. After several glitches and mediocre fundraising, DeSantis has dismissed nearly a dozen staffers and reportedly is looking at re-tooling his message. He needs to move fast, since Donald Trump leads the GOP field by an incredible 40 points.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY HAD AN EVEN WORSE WEEKEND: He thought a speech late last week was off the record, but there’s no such thing as off the record. Kennedy said Covid vaccines were engineered to spare Jews and Asians, still another crackpot allegation that has prompted everyone in the Kennedy family to repudiate him. There’s a long list of weird allegations — chemicals in drinking water may be causing gender confusion among American children, he says.
THIS LATEST KENNEDY ALLEGATION was denounced by all Democrats, although Donald Trump proclaimed that Kennedy “is a very smart guy.”
WITH KENNEDY LOOKING UNSERIOUS, there simply aren’t any credible challengers to Joe Biden, except for one maverick West Virginia Democrat. Joe Manchin will get the attention he craves today, when he joins a rally in Manchester, N.H. sponsored by the centrist “No Labels” group.
MANCHIN IS TEASING A CHALLENGE for the nomination, but he’s despised by party activists and has a remote chance of winning the Democrats’ nod. But he could soften up Biden in the primaries — and if Manchin accepts the No Labels nomination, he could wound Biden in the general election.
BOTTOM LINE: Our mid-summer take is that Trump is the clear favorite to win the GOP nomination, despite (or because of) his enormous legal problems and his reluctance to take Iowa seriously. DeSantis is still the shaky runner-up, with Sen. Tim Scott raising money and moving up. Biden, meanwhile, doesn’t have a serious challenger.
SO IT STILL LOOKS LIKE a Biden-Trump general election, assuming both are in good health. Biden is the narrow favorite recent polls, but he’s hardly a shoo-in.
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