Here’s something I’ll be watching in the Democratic primary. How aggressive will the candidates that aren’t considered top-tier be in going after guns, the Republicans and/or Trump? Two recent examples make me think it’s something we’re going to see.
First, Beto O’Rourke. He had some promise coming into the primary, but he has just not been able to put together the same kind of campaign he had in his unsuccessful Senate run versus Ted Cruz in 2018. After the shooting in his home city of El Paso and a short break from the campaign to deal with the aftermath of that, O’Rourke has said he’s going to refocus his campaign and make gun violence front and center in his campaign. He’s also said he’s going to go head on against Trump.
Second, Andrew Yang. I just ran across an article where he seemed to adopt the Trumpian tactic of poking his opponent. In the interview, he said some things like, “I challenge Donald Trump to any physical or mental feat under the sun. I mean, gosh, what could that guy beat me at, being a slob?” and also, “Like, what could Donald Trump possibly be better than me at? An eating contest? Like something that involved trying to keep something on the ground and having really large body mass? Like, if there was a hot-air balloon that was rising and you needed to try and keep it on the ground, he would be better than me at that? Because he is so fat.”
I got a good laugh out of Yang’s rant. And it’s not clear whether that was just an emotional outburst, or part of a strategy to get some attention by annoying the Tweeter-in-Chief. But O’Rourke’s new course is definitely a strategy for the long term.
I don’t really expect the top tier candidates – Biden, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Buttigieg – to go this route. But Castro has gone at the President with his recent ad buy. I don’t see Booker going this way – he’s the so-called “happy warrior.” Klobuchar, Gabbard? I’m not sure. But I have to say I like the trend. I think it shows some fire from candidates. Shows they’re not going to be consultant-ed to death. If you think Trump world is a danger to the country, and many of these candidates have said just this, then acting like it’s serious is a good thing. Plus, I like that this lets the top tier candidates avoid taking the hardest hits from critics. And, in the case of O’Rourke’s focus on guns, it keeps this issue front and center for everyone, which I think it needs to be.
I hope I see more of this in the next month.