Twenty presidential competitors go head-to-head in the opening test of 2020, and the president will loom large
As he sensed the crowd flagging, Donald Trump switched gears to the all-important question of his re-election slogan. Should the rebel turned incumbent stick with ” Make America great again “( Maga ), which he characterised as” probably and maybe the greatest theme in the history of politics “? Or should he switch to “Keep America great”?
It was the latter that that turned the stadium into a cauldron of noise.
” Ah, I’m sorry, Maga Country, but that wasn’t too close ,” the president said on Tuesday night.” I thought you had it won, and then I hear this cheer. My eardrums will never been the same. Keep America great .”
This week it will be the Democrats’ turn to search for a magic sentence. Twenty candidates, each vying to stimulate Trump the first one-term president since George HW Bush, will line up over two nights for the party’s first primary debatesin Miami. All will be keen to avoid a campaign-ending gaffe; all will be keen to deliver a “zinger” that runs viral and can contender the potency of” Make America great again “.
Among the oldest candidates in the field is Joe Biden, 76, whose pitching has been described by sceptics as” Make America 2016 again”- a restoration of the Obama presidency, when Biden served as deputy. But the youngest contender, Pete Buttigieg , the 37 -year-old mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has stressed the need to look forwardly, saying pointedly:” There is no such thing as an honest politics that revolves around the word ‘again ‘.”
Neil Sroka, a spokesperson for the progressive group Democracy for America, said: “‘ Make America great again’ was clear and very much in line with the bigotry that underlay both the Trump campaign and administration. The slogan did something Trump is unable to to do: keep the loud portion quiet and keep the quiet part loud. With’ Keep America great’ the important point is silent: it means maintain America great for straight white men.
” The key for Democrats is to articulate a bold, inclusive people’s vision of the country that is easy for people to understand and is as effective as’ Make America great again’ in that is says something softly – that is, it’s for all of us. We’re going to need everyone to beat the kind of hate-filled campaign Trump is going to run .”
The first Democrat to enter the race was former congressman John Delaney, nearly two years ago. Other candidates have been campaigning and fundraising for months. But for millions of Americans, this week’s debates will fire the starting gun in earnest. The line-up is historically diverse , including six females, six people of colour and a homosexual man.
Democratic voters are wrestling with myriad push and pull factors. Is Trump such a uniquely awful singularity that the party should play safe and stay in the centre? Can they contemplate nominating yet another ageing white male? Is this election about turning out the base or reaching out to independents and disaffected Republicans? Or has Trump changed everything?
The candidates’ rostrum postures will reflect their stands in polls as of 12 June. Elizabeth Warren and former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas will be centre stage on the first night, giving Warren, who has been surging, a real chance to shine. On night two, Biden and Bernie Sanders will be in the middle, flanked by challengers including Buttigieg and Kamala Harris.
It will be a particular test for Biden, whose runnings for president in 1988 and 2008 crashed and burned and who has been described as a” gaffe machine “. Last week, for example, he recalled the ” civility” of racial segregationists he worked with in the Senate.” He never called me’ boy ,’ he always called me’ son ‘,” he said of one of them, citing a racist word and earning a sharp rebuke from other candidates.