- Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
- Republicans fear that a Democrat with blue-collar appeal or a centrist minority candidate with grassroots support will challenge President Donald Trump in 2020.
- These potential candidates include former Vice President Joe Biden, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.
- Republicans are reportedly writing off progressive Democrats, including Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand.
President Donald Trump has 2020 on his mind, and has been asking his aides which Democrats they predict will run against him, Politico reported on Tuesday.
Top Republican operatives and former White House officials who spoke with Politico said they would welcome a challenge from a progressive Democrat, like Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand, all of whom seem to be positioning themselves for 2020 bids.
Trump has reportedly said Warren, who he often derides as “Pocahontas” because of her claim of Native American ancestry, would be “easy to beat,” and that Sanders, now 76, is too old to run for president again.
“If the Democrats think a socialist or a liberal professor from Massachusetts are a path to victory, we’re happy to help them highlight that, because we don’t think that is in-tune with the vast majority of Americans,” a Republican National Committee spokeswoman told Politico.
But there are a handful of candidates who worry Republicans. GOP operatives and former White House officials say former Vice President Joe Biden, billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, and a “thoughtful, centrist, minority” candidate like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, pose the greatest threats to Trump.
Republicans reportedly fear a candidate who could appeal to the Rust Belt Democrats who supported Trump in 2016, but have since grown disenchanted with the administration. Biden, they say, has the kind of blue-collar appeal that could chip away at Trump’s support in key swing states.
“What we can’t let voters do is think they can get the same policies with someone they like better, like Joe Biden – someone who would fight for them but who doesn’t have the crass edge,” one former White House official told Politico. “I hope CNN has Kirsten Gillibrand on every minute of every day. Love it. Bring it. She’s easy to destroy. If you’re the president, or the RNC, you’re more worried about someone who looks like Biden – someone who has more mainstream appeal, who blue-collar workers could identify with.”
Another GOP strategist argued that Winfrey is the Democrats’ best bet.
“She’s ubiquitous, she’s black, she has crossover appeal and she probably clears a lot of the field out,” the strategist said.
Of Cuban, a moderate who has been an outspoken Trump critic, another former White House staffer said he “gets under Trump’s skin like no one else.”
“He knows how to needle this guy,” the staffer said of Cuban. “He could get people around him to train him, and he’s naturally got charisma.”
It is so far unclear who will run in 2020 – and it may be too early to tell – but the field of Democrats will likely be diverse and crowded.