President Donald Trump’s inner circle of political advisers have already trained their sights on a handful of 2020 challengers they view as potentially dangerous.
A list of Democrats being researched at the behest of chief White House strategist Steve Bannon, first reported by the New York Post, indicates the president’s advisers are not concerned with several of the nationally well-known, traditional political challengers who have dominated early 2020 speculation. Trump’s campaign apparatus instead has focused on preparing for “outsider” candidates that are “outspoken,” according to the Post report.
“Trump is obsessed with running for re-election.”
Among those notably absent from the list are New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The report notes the Trump team believes Cuomo, often considered the strongest potential challenger to Trump, is too scandal-tarred to mount a credible bid.
Instead of a big state governor with the ability to rapidly assemble a national organization, the report suggests the president’s allies are more concerned with the personality and ideology of potential opponents — candidates who could cut into the populist or outsider appeal that catapulted Trump to victory in 2016.
Here are some of the top names the Trump administration has reportedly began to research as potential Democratic opponents in the 2020 presidential election:
Businessman Mark Cuban
One of the candidates who appears first on the Trump's team radar is another outspoken businessman with no experience in elected office.
"He's not a typical candidate," a source told the Post of billionaire Mark Cuban. "He appeals to a lot of people the same way Trump did."
"If you believe in the Trump revolution, you can believe a candidate like Mark Cuban could win an election," the source said.
Although Cuban indicated this past September that there was "no possible way" he would run for president, he has been exceedingly vocal in his criticism of the new president.
On Sunday, the pair engaged in a Twitter spat.
"I know Mark Cuban well. He backed me big-time but I wasn't interested in taking all of his calls. He's not smart enough to run for president!" Trump tweeted.
Cuban retorted with a tweet of his own, saying "How soon they forget" alongside a screenshot of an email he sent Trump in May 2016.
"Everyone else is afraid of you. I like to challenge you," the email from Cuban to Trump said. "And like you said, I may go after that job some day and it could be against you. So it helps to get ahead."
Outspoken Democratic Outliers
Three outspoken Democrats with relatively small national footprints — Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper — formed the bulk of the potential candidates being watched by Team Trump.
"The White House political department wants people to start looking into them," said one source close to the White House according to the Post.
Hickenlooper, a businessman and brewery operator before becoming governor of Colorado, is seen as a rising star who could connect with millennial voters and carry an outsider mantle, the report added.
Murphy is known within Washington circles as relentlessly ambitious and attention-hungry. Following the Islamic terrorist attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Murphy spoke for nearly 15 hours on the Senate floor in support of gun control.
Brown, a veteran in the Senate who made Hillary Clinton's short list for vice president, is considered a card-carrying member of the more populist wing of the Democratic caucus — a Democrat from a Trump state with the potential to take the party's case to working-class voters who eschewed Clinton.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Warren is the least surprising name on the list. The progressive senator has long been touted by the far-left faction of the Democratic Party as eventual presidential material, and she has spent much of her time in the first weeks of the new administration grandstanding against the president, his Cabinet-level nominees, and his agenda.
Warren, who came to national prominence as an anti-Wall Street crusader, would likely be best positioned among the Democratic field to seize the mantle as the ideological heir of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Last Modified: February 13, 2017, 5:57 pm