Robert F. Kennedy Jr Quits Democratic US Presidential Nomination Race
Robert F. Kennedy Jr said Monday he was quitting the race for the Democratic US presidential nomination to run as an independent — a move that could shake up a tight election by syphoning votes from the main candidates.
A rematch between President Joe Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump is by far the most likely scenario in 2024, and a third-party hopeful taking even a few votes from Biden in swing states could spell disaster for the Democrat.
Many analysts however believe that Kennedy, a long-time anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist and a darling of the right-wing US media, would harm Trump more than Biden.
“I've come here today to declare our independence from the tyranny of corruption which robs us of affordable lives, our belief in the future and our respect for each other,” the son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of John F. Kennedy told supporters in Philadelphia.
“But to do that, I must first declare my own independence: Independence from the Democratic Party, from all other political parties.”
The 69-year-old former environmental lawyer has long identified as a Democrat, and invoked his assassinated father in an anecdote about the 1968 campaign trail.
“I haven't made this decision lightly. It's very painful for me to let go of the party of my uncles, my father, my grandfather and both of my great-grandfathers,” he added.
Kennedy was introduced by his wife of nine years, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star Cheryl Hines, who said her husband was ready to make the country better for all Americans and “bring them together.”
But he has proved more popular among Republicans than Democrats in opinion polling — he is languishing on an average of less than 15 percent in major primary polls, 47 points behind Biden.
Embraced by conspiracy theorists on the far right such as Alex Jones and Trump's former national security advisor Michael Flynn, Kennedy has claimed that AIDS might not be caused by HIV and that wifi causes cancer and “leaky brain.”
He has blamed antidepressants for school shootings and said chemicals in tap water could make children become transgender.
He ignited a firestorm of criticism in July over claims that Covid-19 was “ethnically targeted” at Caucasians and Black people, while Ashkenazi Jews and the Chinese were spared.
Last week, liberal academic Cornel West ended his Green Party candidacy in favor of an independent run. Many Biden allies see the 70-year-old African American philosopher as a bigger threat than Kennedy.
Four of Kennedy's siblings nevertheless released a statement calling his announcement “dangerous” and “deeply saddening.”
“Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgement,” they said.
Republicans called Kennedy a “Democrat in Independent's clothing.”
“He is your typical elitist liberal and voters won't be fooled,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
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What to watch in the fourth Republican presidential debate
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—The Republican presidential primary debate stage will shrink to four participants Wednesday evening, with the event expected to focus on two remaining competitors vying to be the main 2024 alternative to former President Donald Trump.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose campaigns have become increasingly combative in recent days, are trying to sell themselves as the most able to challenge to Trump as the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses and the start of GOP nomination balloting approach.
Trump, who has sought to project inevitability about what would be a third consecutive GOP nomination for him, won't be on the stage and instead will attend a private fundraiser. He has skipped all of the debates and lobbied for their cancellation, citing his polling dominance.Also participating will be former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy. The last debate featured five participants. This one, the fourth, comes after Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina dropped out.
The two-hour event at the University of Alabama is scheduled to will start at 8 p.m. ET and will be moderated by Elizabeth Vargas of NewsNation, former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and Eliana Johnson of the Washington Free Beacon. The debate will be broadcast on NewsNation's cable network and livestreamed at NewsNationNow.com and on Rumble. It will be simulcast in the Eastern and Central time zones on Nexstar's broadcast TV network, the CW.
Here is a look at how each candidates is likely to tackle the debate:
Haley, who has moved up in polls in recent weeks and is gaining support from donors on Wall Street and elsewhere, is likely to be a top target as DeSantis tries to slow her momentum. Haley has sparred with the Florida governor in recent weeks but is more prone on the campaign trail to mention Trump in a negative way than DeSantis.
In the first three debates, Haley won strong reviews for her poise and ability to deliver her message in a mostly positive tone. Her exchanges with Ramaswamy have been sharper and more personal.Last week, Haley won the backing of billionaire Charles Koch's political network. Americans for Prosperity Action is expected to spend heavily on advertising to promote Haley and leverage its grassroot volunteers and data capabilities to help turn out the vote for her.
Haley also attracted the support of a major Democratic donor, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who gave $250,000 to a super PAC supporting her candidacy. The donation, earlier reported by the New York Times, was confirmed by a political adviser to Hoffman, Dmitri Mehlhorn. He said Hoffman still prefers President Biden in the general election, but views Haley as the best-positioned Republican to stop Trump.Her campaign has also started to spend its money on ads in Iowa and New Hampshire, where the nominating balloting moves after Iowa. As of Monday, Haley's campaign had more advertising booked between now and the Jan. 23 New Hampshire primary than any other candidate, according to ad-tracker AdImpact.
Despite arguing only he can take on Trump, DeSantis finds himself stuck in a battle with Haley. He is expected to take a tougher approach to her during the debate, criticizing her record as governor and suggesting she can't assemble a coalition to win the nomination—one that would have to include some current Trump backers.
During an interview Monday with conservative host Mark Levin, DeSantis described Haley as “a last gasp of a failed Republican establishment from yesteryear." He has played up conservative fights over cultural issues and has noted that as governor, Haley rejected calls for legislation restricting which bathrooms transgender people can use. Haley has said those decisions can be addressed at the local level.
DeSantis will also look to use the debate to criticize Trump, casting the former president as having failed to follow through on some of his biggest campaign promises, such as completing a Southern border wall or eliminating the Affordable Care Act. Some of DeSantis's allies think he waited too long to engage with Trump, failing to give voters much of a reason to choose him.
The Florida governor scored points with conservatives for his televised debate last week with Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and he has landed big endorsements in Iowa, including from Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. Yet his campaign is mired in internal drama, with a number of officials having left a super PAC that has handled the bulk of his organizing and advertising effort.
Christie, a strong debater with a long history of throwing sharp political punches, has become more vocal in criticizing Haley and DeSantis. Until recently, he kept his focus almost entirely on Trump, and his attacks on the former president have often drawn boos from GOP audiences.
Polls show him in third place in New Hampshire, where he has almost entirely focused his campaign, behind Trump and Haley. Christie came close to not meeting the Republican National Committee fundraising and polling requirements for participation in this debate, but was given the green light Monday evening. A failure to make the stage would have likely put additional pressure on Christie to get out of the race, as anti-Trump Republicans remain concerned that there are still too many candidates splintering the opposition.
Ramaswamy, a biotech company founder who has spent heavily from his own fortune to finance his campaign, has proven to be a vocal debate participant. His performance in the first debate drew significant attention from voters and the media. His aggressive approach in the next two debates didn't wear as well, however, and his poll numbers have plateaued.
While he has tried to sell himself as a next-generation version of Trump, Ramaswamy hasn't been a serious factor in the race. The moderators will have to decide how much they want the debate to focus on Haley and DeSantis as they weigh how much speaking time to grant to Ramaswamy.
Trump's strategy of skipping debates might not serve voters but it has allowed him to avoid being pressed on policy positions such as abortion, and to avoid a contrast with younger opponents who hope to make the 77-year-old former president's age an issue.
Trump has sought to hold competing events during the debates. He sat down with Tucker Carlson as the first debate kicked off in August in Milwaukee. This time Trump will be attending a fundraiser for the super PAC that is backing him. On Tuesday, Trump appeared in Iowa at a town hall hosted by Sean Hannity of Fox News. Trump is hoping for a sizable win in Iowa's caucuses to propel him into New Hampshire, where polls show him holding a significant lead.
Write to John McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org and Alex Leary at email@example.com
Source: Live Mint
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Former President Donald Trump declined to rule out abusing power if he wins the presidency again after Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity asked him Tuesday to respond to growing Democratic criticism of his rhetoric.
The GOP presidential front-runner has talked about targeting his rivals — referring to them as “vermin” — and seeking retribution if he returns to the Oval Office for what he argues are politically motivated prosecutions against him. As Trump has dominated the Republican presidential primary, President Joe Biden has stepped up his own warnings, contending Trump is ” determined to destroy American democracy.”
“Under no circumstances, you are promising America tonight, you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity asked.
“Except for day one,” Trump responded. “I want to close the border and I want to drill, drill, drill.”
Trump then repeated his assertion. “I love this guy,” he said of the Fox News host. “He says, ‘You're not going to be a dictator, are you?' I said, no, no, no, other than day one. We're closing the border and we're drilling, drilling, drilling. After that, I'm not a dictator.”
Earlier in the interview, Hannity had asked Trump if he “in any way” had “any plans whatsoever, if reelected president, to abuse power, to break the law to use the government to go after people.”
“You mean like they're using it right now?” Trump responded.
The interview before a live audience was taped in Davenport, Iowa, Tuesday and aired later in the night.
Trump had tried to turn the tables on Biden during a Saturday speech in Iowa, arguing that the man whose election victory Trump tried to overturn is “the destroyer of American democracy.”
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A closer look at Donald Trump’s second-term agenda
Former President Donald Trump has outlined a second-term agenda that envisions a muscular use of federal authority to influence swaths of American society. Here are some of the most notable proposals that Trump has outlined on his campaign website:
Trump has promised to take funds from private-university endowments to create a government-backed “American Academy" that would provide free online courses and allow people to achieve the equivalent of a bachelor's degree.
He would attempt to implement college entrance and exit exams across the existing U.S. higher-education system and impose new standards in an effort to defend “the American tradition." He has said he would create a new credentialing body to certify teachers “who embrace patriotic values and support the American Way of Life."
Trump would cut federal funding and potentially open civil-rights investigations into schools that teach critical race theory, discuss transgender issues and “other inappropriate racial, sexual, or political content on our children." He would provide funding preferences and “favorable treatment" for school districts that abolish teacher tenure, cut the number of school administrators and adopt a Parents Bill of Rights.
Trump would declare that any hospital or healthcare provider that approves medical interventions for young transgender people will “no longer meet federal health and safety standards for Medicaid and Medicare."
He would direct the Justice Department to investigate whether pharmaceutical companies and hospital networks conspired to promote medical interventions for transgender people and illegally marketed puberty-blocking medications and hormones.
Any law enforcement agency that receives grants from the Justice Department would be required to implement policing measures such as stop-and-frisk. The grants would also be conditioned on “strictly enforcing existing gun laws, cracking down on the open use of illegal drugs, and cooperating with [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to arrest and deport criminal aliens."
He would direct the Justice Department to open civil rights investigations into prosecutors in cities run by Democrats, such as Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Trump has proposed erecting 10 “freedom cities" on undeveloped federal land. Under the plan, which includes few details, the government would hold a contest to generate proposals for Washington, D.C.-sized cities and then award development charters to the best ideas.
The former president has proposed a countrywide “beautification" campaign, which would involve “getting rid of ugly buildings" and refurbishing public spaces.
Write to Andrew Restuccia at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Source: Live Mint
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DeSantis v Newsom
PICTURE IT: two of America’s most powerful governors take the debate stage. One is sporting copious amounts of hair gel. The other may, or may not, be wearing lifted boots to appear taller. Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor of California, and Ron DeSantis, his Republican counterpart in Florida, spend 90 minutes trying to convince viewers that their own state represents the very best of America, and that their relative youth and respective flavour of crusading politics are just what the country needs. Donald Trump is heckling both men in ALL CAPS on Truth Social, from his armchair at Mar-a-Lago, having decided not to seek a second term. Joe Biden is looking forward to retirement, secure in the belief that his presidency was a bridge to the next generation. Sean Hannity, of Fox News, does a passable impression of a neutral moderator.
In another universe this could have been a prime-time debate during the 2024 presidential campaign. Instead, Messrs DeSantis and Newsom will face off on Fox News on November 30th for reasons unclear even to the governors themselves. During an interview last month in Los Angeles, your correspondent asked Mr Newsom why Americans should watch a debate between one (floundering) presidential candidate, and a governor who is not (currently) running for anything. “I don't know they should," he replied merrily.
Yet governors are not the provincial personalities they used to be. “The governor has long been an underappreciated centre of power in US politics," says Kristoffer Shields of the Eagleton Centre on the American Governor at Rutgers University. “But that changed a little bit during covid." In the early days of the pandemic Americans watched their governors deliver regular, often daily, press conferences about the advance of the virus. They became household names. The most outspoken inspired admiration and ire from Americans outside their own states.
There are two ways to look at this event, says Mr Shields: the cynical and the uncynical. Journalists are bound by oath to start with the former. Mr DeSantis is running for president, and in contrast to the earlier imagined scenario, Mr Trump is leading him in the polls by nearly 50 points. Florida's governor is trying to sell the debate with his Californian counterpart as the next big event in the race for the Republican nomination. Except this time, unlike during the primary debates, he's the only member of the Republican Party on stage. He won't have to interrupt whatever spat Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley are having to get a word in.
Mr Newsom is also knee-deep in national politics. He is leading a hopeless campaign to enshrine stricter gun control in the constitution, and has launched his own political action committee to campaign for Democrats in Republican states. He is one of Mr Biden's loudest defenders. But should the need for a different Democratic nominee arise, it is not hard to imagine the Californian calling his own number.
The two governors have traded barbs from their respective coasts over gender identity, abortion and immigration. (Mr Newsom once went so far as to threaten Mr DeSantis with kidnapping charges for allegedly sending migrants to the Golden State.) The Fox News debate offers them a chance to burnish their national reputations on live TV. All debates are political theatre, but this one threatens to be more like a cage match, the clash of the culture warriors.
Yet it would be wrong to dismiss the debate as frivolous. California is the most populous state in the country, and Florida ranks third. Taken together, the two are home to some 61m people. The policies of Mr Newsom and Mr DeSantis affect nearly a fifth of all Americans.
The influence of these two mega-states can be felt beyond their borders. California and Florida have become avatars for very different visions of America. They are the standard-bearers for progressivism and anti-woke populism, respectively. And other states are following their leads. Seventeen adhere to California's vehicle-emissions standards because they are stricter than the federal government's. Meanwhile PEN America, a free-speech organisation, reckons that a Florida law to limit instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity for young pupils has inspired more than two dozen copycat bills in other states.
There are risks for both governors. Should Mr DeSantis prove unable to keep up with Mr Newsom, who seems to relish his new role as Mr Biden's attack dog, his presidential hopes may sink further. Mr Newsom is walking into the debate knowing that California-bashing is a favourite pastime of both Fox News and Mr DeSantis. When the governor of Florida spoke at the California Republican Party's convention in September, he told the crowd: “The California model represents more American decline." He wants to “own the lib", predicts Mr Newsom, “and talk about homelessness in California and everyone getting U-Hauls to drive to Florida".
Still, Americans accustomed to hearing about dysfunction in Congress may be surprised to hear just how much states are getting done. If either governor manages to impress, it may not be for nothing. Perhaps the debate is not so much a glimpse of what could have been as a preview of what is to come.
© 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited.
All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com
Source: Live Mint
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Renewable energy has hidden costs
It matters when electricity is produced. A barrel of oil may be a barrel of oil whether it is pumped at midday or midnight, but a megawatt hour (mwh) of electricity is worth a great deal less when you are sleeping than during the middle of the day or, indeed, during moments when everyone decides to boil the kettle. The difficulty of bottling electricity makes its economics unusual: it is a question not just of “how much" but also “when".
At the same time, if there is one thing that everyone knows about renewable energy, it is that it is getting cheaper. Each year, or so the story goes, the costs of wind and solar power fall as the world improves its ability to harness natural resources. In 2014 the levelised cost of offshore wind, a measure for comparing different methods of generating electricity, was around $200 per mwh, according to America's Energy Information Administration (eia), an official agency; by 2023 it had fallen to $127, excluding subsidies. Yet the industry is struggling. Six state governors recently begged Joe Biden to intervene to keep producers alive, according to Bloomberg, a news service. In Britain the latest annual offshore wind auction attracted no bids whatsoever.
To understand what is going on, consider the levelised cost of energy in more detail. Do away with sun and wind, too, and return to a world where the choice is gas, coal or nuclear energy. These differ in terms of both their fixed and variable costs. The costs of a nuclear plant are mostly fixed: once built it is inexpensive to produce another unit of electricity. Natural-gas plants are the opposite: most of the costs are the fuel, and are thus variable.
A levelised cost means taking these fixed and variable costs over the lifetime of the plant and weighting them by the expected number of watt-hours the plant will produce. This gives a comparable measure. According to the eia, the levelised cost of nuclear power is $91 per mwh. Natural gas comes to $43. Compare that with expectations for the price of electricity and you should have a good idea of whether or not a new plant is worthwhile.
Yet these costs vary depending on how often a source is producing energy. A nuclear plant will be cheapest if it is running constantly, as the high upfront costs will have produced greater output. Gas, with low fixed costs and high variable costs, has lower economies of scale. Coal sits somewhere between the two. Considered purely on the financial merits, the optimal power mix is to have nuclear cover the “baseload", or minimal level of demand, coal for the “mid-load" and, finally, natural gas for the “peak load", when demand is highest. Add a carbon price and the coal will be displaced by natural gas, which is less dirty, as has happened in Europe over the past few decades.
Unfortunately, this dynamic is upset by renewables, which provide power according to the weather and often require the rest of the energy system to accommodate them. Gas, with its low fixed but high variable costs, can do so easily. Nuclear, with high fixed and low variable costs, becomes much more expensive. It is costly to build a nuclear power plant to cover only the windless hours.
As such, solar panels and wind turbines are themselves less beneficial than they might seem. If they cannot reliably produce electricity when it is needed, then their generating capacity is not as valuable as that of a regular power plant. To truly compare the two requires a measure of not just how much each megawatt hour costs to produce, but the value of that particular hour.
In an idealised market, with prices updating moment-to-moment and geographically from node-to-node on the grid, the relative benefit of any energy source would be easy to calculate: it would depend on the “capture rate". This is the difference between the market price that a source receives and the average price for electricity over a period. Prices should be higher when people most want electricity, boosting the capture rate of sources that produce at that time. Fortunately for renewables, this is usually during daylight hours, making solar useful, or during the cold windy months. But as more renewables join the grid the capture rate will fall, since an abundance of solar panels means that when it is sunny electricity prices are very low, or even negative.
Consider these costs, as measured by the eia in America, and most renewables look less competitive: solar's cost of $23 per mwh falls below an average capture rate of $20 for the electricity generated. That is still sufficiently good to beat everything other than onshore wind, geothermal energy and adding more battery storage to the grid. Offshore wind, by contrast, looks downright uncompetitive: the capture rate of its electricity is around $30 compared with a cost of $100 per mwh—only nuclear and coal have lower ratios. Add in rising costs, due to higher interest rates and disrupted supply chains, and it is no wonder many offshore-wind providers are struggling.
Most electricity markets are not ideal. Prices do not reflect the true value of time and place, meaning they are not a perfect guide to how much society wants each mwh of electricity. Look at Britain. Wholesale electricity prices are settled for half-hour blocks, which should mean pricing will give a decent idea if renewables are producing at the wrong times of day. But there is only one price for the whole country. Most onshore wind is in Scotland, since England until recently had a de facto ban on building such wind farms, though more of the demand for electricity is in the south of England. A lack of capacity on the grid to move the electricity south means that the grid manager pays to turn off Scotland's wind turbines while gas power plants in England are turned on.
Eventually, increasing the grid's capacity to shift and store electricity will solve such problems. But for the moment, comparing costs with the capture rate would not give an accurate idea of the relative benefits of building more Scottish wind power. The true costs of renewable energy are greater than they appear.
Read more from Free exchange, our column on economics:
Does China face a lost decade? (Sep 10th)
Argentina needs to default, not dollarise (Sep 7th)
How will politicians escape enormous public debts? (Aug 31st)
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© 2023, The Economist Newspaper Limited. All rights reserved. From The Economist, published under licence. The original content can be found on www.economist.com
Source: Live Mint
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Trump’s Big Advantages as the Election Year Unfolds
Since the last presidential campaign, former President Donald Trump has complained repeatedly that the political system is “rigged" against him. As the 2024 election season draws near, the system actually does appear to be rigged—in his favor.
The current structure of U.S. presidential elections helps the leading Republican presidential contender in significant ways. Thanks in part to years of work by the former president's campaign and allies, the party's primary rules and calendar are designed to help a front-runner sew up the nomination quickly. That would be an advantage in any case, but it may matter even more in a year when Trump's legal troubles in multiple civil and criminal trials could mount as the primary calendar unfolds.
In the general election, the Electoral College also tilts decidedly to the benefit of the Republican nominee. That's because Democrats gather a lot of their national popular-vote totals in just a few heavily populated states, while Republican nominees tend to win in less-populous states that deliver winner-take-all electoral votes in return for far fewer actual votes. In effect, Democrats tend to garner large numbers of votes that give them no gains in the Electoral College.
“Republican votes are simply more efficiently allocated than Democratic votes are," says nonpartisan election analyst Charlie Cook. The Republican advantage is so pronounced that Cook estimates that President Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will have to win the national popular vote by four to seven percentage points to win in the Electoral College, much as he did in 2020 when he won the popular vote by 4.5% over Trump.
In a turbulent political environment with the nation evenly divided, these structural advantages can prove decisive. For President Biden, they figure to increase the headwinds he has to overcome to prevail in a difficult re-election effort.
Trump's advantages will begin to emerge early in the new year, when Republican caucuses and primaries unfold in rapid order. In contrast with the Democrats, whose rules require all states to award convention delegates in proportion to each candidate's share of the votes, the Republicans allow state parties to choose to conduct various forms of winner-take-all primaries.
In some states, winning a plurality automatically gives the top contender all of the state's delegates; in others, a winning candidate has to clear a certain threshold to walk away with all the delegates. “On the whole, the rules writ large are rules that are front-runner friendly," says Josh Putnam, a political scientist and consultant who runs FrontloadingHQ, a site that tracks primary and delegate issues.
The Republican system has long been structured this way, but Trump's forces have worked hard since he first won the nomination in 2016 to tweak it to further help the front-runner. In Massachusetts, for example, a candidate once needed to win just 5% of the statewide vote to get any delegates. In 2020, that threshold was raised to 20%, and a winner-take-all system was added in which a candidate getting above 50% takes all the state's delegates.
Trump's allies have also pushed for the early Republican primaries and caucuses to adopt new rules friendly to the front-runner, including on Super Tuesday, March 5. Though the party still doesn't technically allow a pure winner-take-all primary until after March 15, in 2024 there will be a proliferation of early states that use some variation, typically giving all the delegates to a candidate who wins 50% or more of the votes.
By the Trump campaign's count, 23 states and territories voting by March 15 will employ some kind of winner-take-all trigger. In 2016, just 15 states and territories did so. The most important change is in delegate-rich California, which is instituting rules for its Super Tuesday primary that will give all of its delegates to a candidate who wins 50% of the state's vote.
For trailing candidates, this means that staying close to the front-runner might bring little or nothing in the way of actual delegates. The front-runner can rack up delegates fast and pull away to an insurmountable lead quickly, particularly when facing a field in which multiple opponents are dividing the remaining vote into small pieces.
That effect could be enhanced by the fact that the whole primary calendar is more front-loaded in 2024, with a half dozen states moving their election dates forward from past years. All told, some 60% of the party's delegates will have been chosen by March 5, Cook says. Those rules “give an incumbent/front-runner a significant advantage," says Chris LaCivita, senior adviser in the Trump campaign. For a candidate who hopes to overtake Donald Trump—say, Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis—this combination of factors means that they have to make their move early to have any chance to catch him.
Once the Republican nomination is secured, the GOP's advantage in the general election will start to emerge. Both parties will proceed with the knowledge that the two candidates' standing nationally doesn't necessarily reflect their chances of securing the 270 Electoral College votes that produce a winner.
That dynamic was clear in 2020, when Biden won the national vote over Trump by some seven million votes but claimed the presidency only because he won four key swing states—Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin—by a total of about 126,000 votes.
In that race, Biden won California by 5.1 million votes, New York by 2 million votes and Massachusetts by 1.2 million votes. Winning by such big margins made Biden's vote total look impressive nationally, but it didn't give him any more electoral votes than if he'd won those states by a single vote each.
Cook refers to these excess votes as “wasted votes," and in 2020 Biden won all seven of the states at the top of that list, tallying 14 million votes that did nothing to add to his Electoral College advantage. By comparison, just 7.8 million “wasted votes" were cast for Trump.
That factor makes it entirely plausible that Trump could win in another “inversion" election, in which he loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College, as he did in 2016 against Hillary Clinton. That happened only three times in the country's first 53 presidential elections before 2000, but it has occurred twice in the six contests since then and nearly happened a third time in 2020.
Trump has one other advantage worth noting: A potential proliferation of alternative candidates who could siphon more votes away from Biden than from Trump. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Cornel West are mounting independent presidential bids, and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is also said to be considering a run.
Because of the outsider profile and conservative positions he has struck, Kennedy, though a lifelong Democrat, could sap as many Trump votes as Biden votes. But because of the positioning of West and Manchin—the first a progressive academic and activist, the second a longtime Democratic officeholder—both likely would draw more from the Democrats.
All of these outsiders insist they aren't aiming to help Trump's candidacy or hurt Biden's, but that could be precisely the effect of their campaigns.
Gerald F. Seib retired last year as The Wall Street Journal's executive Washington editor and weekly Capital Journal columnist. He has served most recently as a fellow at the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas.
Source: Live Mint
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Biden, 81, Mixes Up Taylor Swift and
US President Joe Biden on Monday mistakenly referred to American pop star Taylor Swift as ‘Britney' (Spears) during remarks at a Thanksgiving event at the White House. While speaking about the annual tradition, Biden said turkeys named Liberty and Bell had to beat stiff competition for the honor and demonstrate ‘patience.'
“You could say it was even harder than getting a ticket to the Renaissance tour for Britney's tour. She's down in, it's kinda warm in Brazil right now,” Biden said. This yet another faux pas comes as Biden celebrated his 81st birthday by joking repeatedly about his advanced age, even as the White House strongly defended his stamina and batted away polling.'
On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden's age should not be a primary focus. “Our perspective is, it's not about age, it's about the president's experience,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing, where she highlighted that Biden had successfully championed through Congress several major pieces of legislation.
“What we say is we have to judge him by what he's done, not by his numbers,” Jean-Pierre said. “I would put the president's stamina, the president's wisdom, ability to get this done on behalf of the American people, against anyone. Anyone, any day of the week.” The US President, for his part, went for humor at the White House event. “By the way, it's my birthday today,” Biden told a crowd on the South Lawn as he pardoned Thanksgiving turkeys Liberty and Bell. “I just want you to know, it's difficult turning 60,” the president added with a chuckle. “Difficult.”
Noting that the pre-Thanksgiving pardoning ceremony dated back 76 years, Biden also said, “I want you to know I wasn't there — for the first one.” The oldest president in US history, Biden for months has used humor to try to defuse the issue — even as polls suggest it's no laughing matter.
An August poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 77 percent of U.S. adults, including 69 percent of Democrats, viewed Biden as too old to be effective for four more years. As he seeks a second term, Biden could be headed for a rematch with former President Donald Trump.
(With agency inputs)
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WATCH | ‘I’m a Hindu
Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy on Saturday said his ‘Hindu' faith motivated him to launch his presidential campaign. Ramaswamy was addressing the ‘The Family Leader' forum organised by The Daily Signal platform along with fellow contenders Florida governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
“My faith is what gives me my freedom. My faith is what led me to this presidential campaign…I am a Hindu. I believe there is one true God. I believe God put each of us here for a purpose. My faith teaches us that we have a duty, a moral duty to realise that purpose. Those are God's instruments that work through us in different ways, but we are still equal because God resides in each of us. That's the core of my faith,” Ramaswamy said.
Ramaswamy also shared the video of the interaction between him and the panel on his X profile with the caption: “Last night I was asked about my Hindu faith. I answered honestly”.
“I grew up in a traditional household. My parents taught me family is the foundation. Respect your parents. Marriage is sacred. Abstinence before marriage is the way to go. Adultery is wrong. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Divorce is not just some preference you opt for…you get married before God and you make an oath to God and your family,” Ramaswamy told panel moderator Family Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats.
Family Leader is an influential Christian organisation from Iowa.
Three candidates — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy — sat side-by-side at a festive Thanksgiving table for a “family discussion” in Des Moines.
A report by the Associated Press said that the presidential contenders addressed each other by their first names and at times noted where they agreed. They discussed their foreign policies on Israel, China and the Russia-Ukraine war while focusing on religious liberty and agriculture, but the interactions between them were friendly.
Leading Republican contender former US President Donald Trump did not attend the event.
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Wall Street eyes Nikki Haley as Trump spoiler
Big hitters on Wall Street are lining up to support Nikki Haley’s long-shot bid to snatch the 2024 Republican presidential nomination from Donald Trump.
“There's a desperate, desperate hunt for anybody but Trump," said one of the roughly 30 senior executives The Wall Street Journal spoke with to gauge the mood of the finance set roughly a year ahead of the election.
While Wall Street's die-hard Democrats are sticking with President Biden, many other financiers have been casting about for an alternative to Trump, the former president they see as too unpredictable among other concerns. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis's clash with Walt Disney and stilted public appearances hurt his standing, while Virginia Democrats' statewide victories this month quashed the idea of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (and former Carlyle Group co-CEO) jumping into the race.
Attention on Haley, a former South Carolina governor and Trump's former U.N. ambassador, intensified after Sen. Tim Scott's (R., S.C.) unexpected exit Sunday.
Former Trump adviser Gary Cohn and UBS banker Mike Santini co-hosted a Haley fundraiser Tuesday at Cohn's Upper East Side apartment in Manhattan. Roughly 30 guests including Aryeh Bourkoff, the founder of investment bank LionTree, paid $10,000 apiece to attend.
Haley fielded questions on topics including trade relations, economic policy and abortion. She won plaudits at last week's Republican debate for finessing her stance on the abortion issue and calling for consensus.
Other Haley events in New York are set for Dec. 3 and Dec. 4, with the latter being organized by Santini, litigator Eric Levine and others, some of whom have ties to Elliott Management, the $60 billion hedge fund founded by Republican donor Paul Singer. They include Campbell Brown, the Meta Platforms executive and wife of Elliott public affairs chief Dan Senor, and Terry Kassel, a longtime Haley supporter who is Elliott's human-resources head and Singer's girlfriend. (Singer himself is still entertaining supporting candidates including Haley, DeSantis and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.)
Haley, 51 years old, who already has high-profile admirers including outgoing Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, has been busy this week charming others including JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon and BlackRock's Larry Fink. The conversation between Haley and Dimon was earlier reported by Axios.
Dimon, who leans Democratic, has told people Haley seems to understand the business world and could get things done. That tacit endorsement is rare for Wall Street's elder statesman, as he doesn't typically signal support for candidates. Fink saw Haley on Tuesday at a meet-and-greet with other executives.
Ken Griffin, the founder of investing giant Citadel and one of the biggest Republican donors, meanwhile, is flirting with throwing his support behind Haley, telling Bloomberg this week he was “actively contemplating" it. Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman is also still considering his options.
While Haley trails Trump by a wide margin and still sits behind DeSantis in the latest national polls, her supporters expect her numbers to rise by the Iowa presidential caucuses in January. An Iowa Poll released in late October showed Haley catching DeSantis for second place among Republicans in that state, and a new CNN survey of New Hampshire has her alone in second place there behind Trump.
“If she passes DeSantis, she's the backup," said one financier who supports her. Given Trump's legal troubles, “it's not completely crazy that she could ultimately win."
A DeSantis spokesman said his campaign raised more than $1 million in 24 hours after the latest debate and has the resources it needs to grind out the battle for the nomination.
Trump's team didn't respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, many Democratic donors privately grumble that Biden won't step aside even though his age is seen by many as a handicap. Still, reliable supporters such as George Soros and Blackstone's Jonathan Gray are standing by the president—who turns 81 Monday—and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Lazard President Ray McGuire's wife, Crystal McCrary McGuire, recently hosted Harris and supporters at their Upper West Side apartment. Biden is expected back in New York early next year.
Many are panicking behind closed doors about the incumbent's worsening poll numbers and bristling at what they see as a tough-on-business regulatory agenda. They also worry that the balance he must strike on the war between Israel and Hamas will only hurt him as the conflict drags on. Some are floating alternatives such as Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (No one the Journal spoke to mentioned Rep. Dean Phillips, the Minnesota congressman who is actually challenging Biden for the Democratic nomination.)
Biden's camp has pushed back on wealthy donors suggesting he step aside. “Joe is saying ‘I'm the only one who has established that I can beat Trump,' " one of his nervous supporters said.
Complicating matters further on the Democratic side is New York City's migrant crisis. The Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit representing the city's business community, has been quietly urging deep-pocketed donors not to meaningfully support Biden until his team agrees to provide funding to deal with the influx or let them enter the legal workforce.
Meanwhile, No Labels, a political group supporting centrist candidates, threatens to throw both Republicans and Democrats off-balance by adding another candidate to the mix. Founder Nancy Jacobson has been in New York drumming up support.
Founded in 2009 and funded over the years by donors including Trian Fund Management's Nelson Peltz, enthusiasm for No Labels jumped on Wall Street during the pandemic as it recruited using Zoom events. But several onetime supporters say the organization is losing steam and people worry it could help elect Trump. Peltz quit affiliating with the group years ago and is leaning toward supporting Haley.
No Labels said it was becoming clearer every day that Americans want another choice in 2024 and that is why it is working to offer a “Unity ticket" to voters if they want it.
“I'm dragging my feet on supporting No Labels," said a private-equity executive who was once an enthusiastic supporter, adding that he needed answers on how they were going to decide whether to offer up an alternative, and who. “Until I'm sure of that and I like the answer, I'll keep waiting," he said.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) was once considered a possible No Labels candidate, and his decision not to run for re-election fed the speculation. He gets little love from the Wall Street crowd, however, and No Labels has recently made clear it was more likely to select a Republican—if it runs anyone.
The private-equity executive said his hope is that No Labels gets on every state's ballot to pressure both parties to be more moderate, then drops out at the last minute.
Lauren Thomas contributed to this article.
Write to Cara Lombardo at email@example.com and AnnaMaria Andriotis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Live Mint
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As More Pandas Head to US
In a whirlwind US trip this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping held long talks with President Joe Biden, got a standing ovation from top business leaders, and even hinted there could be more pandas on the way to the United States.
The high-profile welcome for Xi in San Francisco, coupled with the summit where he and Biden agreed to restore suspended US-Chinese military communications, add up to a successful visit, analysts say.
But in the face of heightened business risks and enduring national security concerns, experts say the rhetoric needs now to be backed up by action if it is to produce meaningful long-term results for the Chinese leader, whose slowing economy needs to reverse the flight of foreign capital.
“For China, Xi's ability to gain a prominent platform in San Francisco (and) to speak with US business leaders was a success in and of itself,” said Nathaniel Sher, senior research analyst at Carnegie China.
At a dinner Wednesday attended by executives like Apple CEO Tim Cook and BlackRock's Larry Fink, Xi said China was ready to be a “partner and friend” of the United States. He hinted Beijing could send more panda bears — always a huge hit at US zoos — as “envoys of friendship.”
The world's richest person, Tesla and SpaceX tycoon Elon Musk, also met Xi before the dinner with other representatives, said Tesla in a Chinese social media post.
Xi's appearance at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco marked a rare chance for him to interact with foreign business leaders, noted Trivium China in a newsletter, offering the opportunity to challenge the idea that China is inhospitable to foreign firms.
He did not show up in person to the APEC CEO summit — and China did not offer an explanation for the no-show — offering instead a written speech inviting firms to invest and deepen their footprint, promising “heart-warming” measures “to make it easier for foreign companies to invest and operate in China.”
But beyond the warm words, US investors will be watching Xi's actions, as the world's number two economy slows and business confidence weakens.
China's anti-espionage law, cybersecurity investigations, raids on multinationals, wrongful detentions and non-market practices “all have chilling effects on foreign investment,” Sher told AFP.
“Above all, multinationals want more legal and regulatory predictability in China, not more hollow statements about China's commitment to win-win development,” he added.
On the political front, the sit-down with Biden could be said to have been a qualified success, observers said.
The United States and China have a common goal of stabilization of their relations after a rough few years, said Australian ambassador to the United States Kevin Rudd.
“It means reopening former lines — political, diplomatic and now military communication,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the APEC summit.
“This is not just a term, it actually has machinery of government around it,” said the former Australian prime minister.
“The bottom line with all the above is the proof of the pudding will lie in the eating. The framework is there, they're measurable. What will now happen in practice?”
For now, the restoration of military-to-military communications is “just the first step,” he said.
It remains unclear if China has changed its own strategic timetable surrounding Taiwan — the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own — or if the latest talks will change its military's behavior.
To Seton Hall University professor Zheng Wang, Xi's first US visit in six years and the Biden-Xi summit symbolize “a potential turning point” in bilateral ties after the hostility of recent years.
“We've witnessed a trade war, technology conflicts, and the far-reaching impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
And now Biden will be managing his reelection campaign while monitoring war in Ukraine and tensions in the Middle East, while Xi navigates China's economic challenges and the perpetual intrigue of politics at the top of the Communist Party. A former foreign minister has gone missing and the whereabouts of the defense minister remain unclear.
“Stable and constructive US-China relations are therefore needed for both sides,” Wang said.
Yet, Xi could have gone “much further” to reassure the United States and the global community of China's benign intentions, Sher said.
“If the ‘rejuvenation' of China entails a rejection of the existing international order, nothing that Chinese leaders say in international fora will prevent the US and its partners from seeking to impede Beijing's rise,” he said.
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