Friday 20 July 2018

Trump on track to win in 2020, say UK diplomats

US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak on the phone with children as they track Santa Claus’s movements with the North American Aerospace Defence Command Santa Tracker, on Christmas Eve. Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster
US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump speak on the phone with children as they track Santa Claus’s movements with the North American Aerospace Defence Command Santa Tracker, on Christmas Eve. Photo: AP/Carolyn Kaster

Ben Riley-Smith

Donald Trump is on course to win re-election in 2020, senior British diplomats believe, as he approaches his first full year in office.

They think that despite a string of negative headlines, the US president has largely kept his support base onside since entering the White House.

Possible Democratic contenders are seen as either too old - such as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden - or lacking in the name-recognition needed to defeat Mr Trump.

There is also a belief the US president has curbed some of his most radical policy instincts since taking office, such as ignoring Nato or pulling out of Afghanistan.

The analysis is significant as it underpins the advice British Prime Minister Theresa May is given and shapes how she approaches the UK-US "special relationship".

Mr Trump shocked the political establishment in November 2016 when he defeated the Democratic candidate and front-runner Hillary Clinton to become president.

His victory was credited to winning three swing states by a combined total of fewer than 80,000 votes - the slimmest of margins.

Since then, Mr Trump's approval rating has slumped to the lowest ever for a post-war president after a year in office.

Just one in three voters approves of Mr Trump's job performance, compared to one in two for Barack Obama at the same point in his presidency.

Yet senior British diplomats see few signs Mr Trump is facing guaranteed defeat in 2020 and have questioned whether current Democratic front-runners have what it takes to win.

They fear Mr Sanders, the 76-year-old senator who failed to win the Democratic nomination last year, and Mr Biden, the 75-year-old former vice president, may have missed their chance.

They think younger potential candidates - such as Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator, or Kamala Harris, the California senator - are "yet to be tested" on the toughest political stage.

They are not alone. Joshua Green, author of 'Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency', believes the US president can win again. "He could absolutely win again in 2020. I don't know why anybody, based on the track record of political predictions over the last three or four years, would presume to say otherwise," he said.

Irish Independent

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