Gearing Up for ‘Biden’ Versus Trump: Not If, But When and How to Replace Biden

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

President Joe Biden is declining at a geometric, not an arithmetic, rate. His cognitive challenges are multifaceted.

His gait is shaky. His daily use of stairs now risks the chance of a tenure-ending fall. Even when he sticks to the teleprompter, he so slurs his speech, mispronounces words, and glides his syntax that at times he becomes as incomprehensible at the podium as he is unsteady in his step.

He now speaks a strange language foreign and untranslatable to most Americans. White House transcribers leave hiatuses in their written texts of his remarks to reflect that they either have no idea what he said, do not wish to publicize their guesses at what he said, or do not wish the public to know what he was trying to say.

Despite the circling-the-wagons media and the passive-aggressive sycophants like the opportunistic Gov. Gavin Newsom in waiting, the left understands that Biden will be lucky to get to the August convention. This spring and early summer, he will not campaign as a normal presidential candidate, and this time around, there is no pretense of the COVID epidemic to excuse his absence.

The people have already polled numerous times that their president is unfit to serve now and, in the future, should not run. So the 2020 Faustian bargain is in shambles. Remember its quid pro quos: all the major Democratic presidential candidates of 2020 nearly simultaneously pulled out the primaries to coronate Biden—but only on the condition that Biden would play to the hilt his “ol’ Joe Biden from Scranton” schtick that would offer a veneer to the otherwise unpopular hard left agenda of the new Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/the Obamas/Squad Democratic Party.

The people voted for a “return to normalcy,” all while the left destroyed the southern border, unleashed a critical legal theory/George-Soros crime wave, dismantled hard-won deterrence abroad, and printed money to spur hyperinflation.

Moreover, it is increasingly clear that the entire Biden family consortium is compromised and corrupt. Neither Hunter nor Jim nor Frank Biden had any consulting skills, business expertise, or corporate experience to warrant leveraging over $25 million from foreign interests. Their only commodity was to sell corrupt parties the appearance that Joe Biden would be quite willing to help their various causes if they enriched his family. Everyone knows that to be true, and only now, as Biden sinks into incoherence, are his protectors shrugging about the obvious money-making schemes that revolved around a corrupt senator, vice president, and private citizen, Joe Biden.

None of Biden’s record is popular. His policies on the border, economy, energy, foreign policy, and crime poll below 50 percent. And this trifecta of Biden’s mental deterioration, family corruption, and failed presidential record will only grow worse.

Then there is the Kamala Harris issue—the Spiro Agnew insurance policy of our age that so far has protected Biden from overt efforts to replace him. She is as unpopular as Biden and often as incomprehensible, but without the excuse of age or mental diminishment. Of all the major Beltway elected officials, only Sen. Mitch McConnell polls worse.

By August, Democratic donors and politicos may well conclude that the only way to rid the party of both is to release Biden’s delegates, open up the convention, and let candidates fight over the now-free delegates. Harris then will not be nominated, but not through a backroom, Machiavellian removal of a black woman. Instead, she will “fairly” lose an “open” and “transparent” free-for-all of various Democratic want-to-be replacements and recede into a sober and judicious Mike Pence-like retirement.

The problem with this scenario, of course, is that late-season convention or post-convention machinations in the modern era don’t work out too well. In 1976, Ronald Reagan, after losing a series of early primaries and being declared nearly inert, suddenly caught fire and entered the August 1976 Republican convention in Kansas City within striking distance of incumbent Gerald Ford. President Ford, remember, had never been elected either president or vice president.

In the end, in one of the most acrimonious Republican conventions in memory, a wounded Ford won the nomination by only 117 delegate votes out of some 2,257 cast. In some sense, Ford never recovered and lost the election to Jimmy Carter, even as the tumult gave Reagan the exposure and his team the experience needed to win the nomination in 1980.

About two weeks after the 1972 Democratic convention, a desperate George McGovern and the Democratic hierarchy removed Vice President running mate Sen. Thomas Eagleton from the ticket due to revelations of little-known past electric shock treatments given to combat depression. After futile efforts, the Democrats settled on the Kennedy clan’s Sargent Shriver, who had never run for office. McGovern would have lost anyway to an incumbent Nixon. But the margin of defeat in one of the greatest landslides in presidential history was often attributable to the sheer chaos of changing a vice presidential candidate so late in the campaign.

In sum, the Democrats can—and may have to—replace Joe Biden, and they can ensure that Kamala Harris is not the nominee, but the means of doing so will be chaotic and messy and will wound the winner for the rest of the campaign.

Trump’s Circuitous Path to Victory

Donald Trump challenges have now been discussed ad nauseam, and they are threefold: he must either beat or postpone campaign-season court trials—and find perhaps $800 million to $1 billion to post bonds, pay interests on them, and meet gargantuan legal fees—without turning off donors and supporters and by avoiding the diversion of Republican National Committee and various campaign funds to his own personal defense.

As in the past, Trump will be vastly outspent, perhaps by 3-1 or 4-1. Molly Ball’s infamous Time 2022 essay outlined the left-wing scheming that ensured a mail-in/early balloting election by aggregating the deep state, the corporate boardroom, the social media monopolies, and the 2020 riotous street thugs of Antifa and BLM. What she called a “cabal” and “conspiracy” was designed not so much as a one-off to defeat Trump as to create a permanent system by which a Trump-like candidate could never win a presidential election, both in 2020 and afterward.

Given changes in the 2020 state voting laws that saw 60-70 percent of the ballots in many swing states not cast on Election Day, while the rejection rate of faulty ballots counter-intuitively plunged despite such an influx, Trump will have to win by 3–4 points. Otherwise, in the swing states, we will again stare at the late-evening televised wizardry in which his huge leads mysteriously melt on the screen as drop boxes and mail sacks are tallied.

To achieve a 51-plus majority in the popular vote—no Republican has achieved such a national ballot margin in 36 years since George H.W. Bush beat Mike Dukakis in 1988—Trump will have to win, or win back, more Independents, apostate Democrats, and RINO Never-Trumpers.

He can do that in only two ways:

One, he must hammer away at Joe Biden’s disastrous record on the border, energy, race, foreign affairs, the economy, and social issues that scare moderates and fence-sitters, especially when comparisons are made to the achievements of 2017-2020. Inner-city residents are being tag-teamed by both the influx of thousands of illegal aliens who apparently have first claims on stretched social services and street criminals who loot, assault, and carjack mostly their law-abiding neighbors with impunity.

Two, Trump needs to model his remarks after his Iowa Primary victory speech or his recent Fox Townhall event with Fox’s Laura Ingram. Translated, that means there is no reason to reference Nikki Haley’s deployed husband, to refer to her as a “birdbrain,” or to say much of anything other than she will lose, and in the process, she is needlessly hurting more than half of America by draining resources away from the only real chance to repeal the current socialist agenda.

Haley is imploding without any need for a Trump push. Magnanimity, rather than salt in her self-inflicted wounds, is the better strategy to unite the party. Trump has cemented his base. He will increase his share of minority voters who have been hurt the worst by the Biden socialist agenda. But to ensure victory and a Republican Congress, he cannot give swing voters a reason not to vote for policies and initiatives that they overwhelmingly prefer over those of the now hard-left Democratic Party.

In sum, after Super Tuesday, when Haley will either quit the race or become inert, Trump needs to call her, politely remind her of her promise to support the nominee, and welcome her back into the fold. If she is wise, she will likely agree to disagree, let bygones be bygones, and thus pledge to support the assured nominee, Trump.

Two of her three choices are in her own interest: 1) She endorses him, and Trump wins, and she is vibrant in 2028; 2) she endorses him, and Trump loses, and she is still viable; 3) she opposes him, and Trump either wins—and she is persona non grata—or he loses, and she is blamed for splitting the party and his defeat. Breaking her public promise to support the nominee will bleed what support she retains, and would prove a suicidal blunder.

Trump has achieved the greatest political comeback since Richard Nixon arose from the ashes of defeat in California in 1962 to win the nomination and presidency in 1968. Trump’s Phoenix-like rebirth from January 2021 to the present was achieved by Biden’s failure, the natural empathy accruing from the weaponization of the law by partisan or corrupt prosecutors against him, and Trump’s greater success in giving independents fewer reasons to vote against him. If he can praise those he defeats, call for unity, and campaign in 50 states in non-Republican strongholds, then he can win—even despite the hatred of the left, the corruption of the media, the weaponization of the bureaucracy, and the eroding trust in the way we vote.


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46 thoughts on “Gearing Up for ‘Biden’ Versus Trump: Not If, But When and How to Replace Biden”

    1. Robert O'Brien

      I think I’m seeing, that you’re attempting to correct VDH, using a sentence fragment. Am I mistaken? Thank you sir, for your consideration.

  1. no doubt, we want to replace biden. but with whom? very shortly, the dems are going to realize that keeping joe as the nominee may bring him a defeat in nov (polls are already climbing in trump’s favor). i’m very concerned that michelle obama will substitute in for biden and she’s a sure winner. i cannot imagine any republican who can beat her. this is not good news.

    1. She lacks any credenials whatsoever and is a racist, more so than her husband. We live in perilous times, and a popularity contest won’t win this election.

      1. Your argument relies on an informed electorate while we live in a sea of celebrity. Michelle Obama is one of the most popular women in the world and will attract the young, minorities, and women from all corners. Trump seems unable to restrain his name calling and and name ascribed to Ms. Obama will backfire magnificently. Everyone also knows that policy-wise it will be Barak for another 8 years with Michelle as a figurehead.

        The only hope our nation has is that the Obamas don’t want to be the most powerful couple the world has every known.

          1. In the beginning it seemed to be an inside linebacker for the Corvallis college. But then a coach offered a correction: the position was that of wide receiver; big difference in body types.

    2. Gerald:

      Excellent points. I have a difficult time believing that Michelle O. will step up as the nominee for president under the DNC. It could happen, but I don’t think so. Michelle is living a grandiose life based on her and Barack grifting the American people. Why would she want to give that up so she can walk around with a figurative bullseye on her back. I don’t think she has the intestinal fortitude to do it.

  2. Excellent post on March 4. I am interested in your thoughts on the possible consequences of Trump announcing before the election that he would pardon the Bidens for their various crimes in the interest of unifying the nation so as to focus on the significant challenges facing our country. A somewhat wild thought, I know.

  3. Will Trump be practical and show a little humor about it all?

    Reminds me of the scene from Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankstein” where the Doctor and Igor are grave digging in the awful cold and gloom of night and Igor says:

    “Well it could be worse. It could be raining.”

    Then the thunderstorm hits with torrential effect and they are now up to their necks digging in a grave full of mud.

    Good luck to us all.

  4. Biden merits a fitting for a straight-jacket.
    But it would be sweeter to see him in court on charges of treason and other high crimes.
    Only eight months to go to be rid of what is highly probably one of the most grotesque grifters in American history.

  5. Craig Jenkins

    Victor Davis Hanson’s brilliant and anchored in traditional, American values. It’s amazing that he can turn out the volume of scholarly work and social commentary that he does on a regular basis. Hats off to his independent, hardworking Swedish & Welsh forebears!

  6. Brilliant piece that only makes sense, is factually eye opening and should be a MUST read for every American (legal) voter.

  7. Looked, in vain, for evidence, or at least an assertion, that Trump will poll as strongly against the inevitible Biden replacement as he does against Biden. If that replacement is a “woman of color” then every rational conservative will suddenly wish Haley was the nominee, to neutralize the romantic narrative of “first woman president.” The same kind of narrative that swept a relative nobody/done-nothing like Mr. Obama into the White House.

    1. Michael, Haynes

      Almost makes sense, except women are as easy to herd in one direction as cats. You may get some voting along that track, but a lot of married and/or serious minded women will not vote for another woman, because they see through all their wiles. Also, the black/white divide is the one the old plantation owners (democrats) have been working for a long, long time! Obama was like the Trojan Horse, an answer to their “prayers” loaded with Communists in his political entourage underbelly.

    2. I like to believe that I am rational, and I am definitely conservative; it matters little to me who the democrats put forward when Joe steps aside.
      Kamala, she polled less than 2% in the 2020 primary so I don’t see her getting any GOP crossover votes and being part of the Biden admin with a dismal record hurts her. She was the border czar after all so that will kill her run.
      Michelle, never was proud of her country before Barack but is enjoying the easy life now. Even if people think it will be an Obama 4th term the nation has seen what happened in the first 2 as he began dividing the nation and pretty much finished the job since 2021. The nation told Hillary this country is not interested in dynasties and that should go triple for the Obama’s.
      It is less about the candidate than it is the policies that the country will be voting for or against!

      If there is a woman of color Trump should be concerned about in the general election, I think it would be Nikki Haley!
      Then again, I would be more concerned about the fraud than the candidate the left pushes

  8. I don’t see why all the emphasis is on Biden, the person or the President. Does anyone think all these terrible policy decisions came from Biden’s brain. He is just a puppet. Trump and the Republicans should be running against these policies and their disastrous results, pointing out at every occasion that these are the policies of the Democrats and will be the same regardless of who runs on the Democrat ticket. These were never “Biden’s”, they came from those around him that are giving the orders and pulling the strings. If the Republicans do this, they will be in much better shape if a switch is made. If Biden does end up as the nominee, so much the better but I wouldn’t count on it.

    1. Craig Jenkins

      You make a good point that Biden’s disastrous policies are Democrat ones that will not change with another Democrat in office. That point should be repeated endlessly until the election takes place.

  9. The array of forces against Trump is considerable, including media, Hollywood, academia, the Democrat party, many very wealthy people, and the intelligence community. The situation is very similar to the forces at work against both another very popular candidate, and a very popular president, RFK in 1968 and JFK in 1963. The current situation is most akin to JFK in 1963. Law fare has not kept Trump down. Therefore, it would seem most likely, given the visceral hatred of Trump in the groups noted above, that they will do everything in their power to have chicanery at the ballot box, as well as before and after. If that fails, then Trump might very well be the target of an assassination attempt because of the left’s revulsion of him. Tucker Carlson asked that same question. Trump deflected. The historic parallels are eerily similar (except that Kennedy had Hollywood and academia on his side, and Trump does not). Heaven help the US, if the unthinkable happens.

    1. Robert O'Brien

      My thoughts EXACTLY for months. I’m so afraid for him. And our poor country. Thank you Retired.

    2. Craig Jenkins

      In a recent interview, Ben Carson & another gentleman pointed out the incredible lawfare being waged against Trump, the attempt to destroy him by convicting him of some crime, bankrupting him, his family & associates. Carson concluded they’d then do “an Epstein” on Trump in jail to finish the job.

  10. I agree that Biden will be replaced but it will be later than sooner. Neither Michelle Obama nor Gavin Newsom can withstand an actual campaign of any length and the DNC knows it. Their failures and racism would become exposed with even 5 months of public exposure. Timing is everything here. If Joe should become unable to run is say August, Michelle could be blitzed upon us without ever having to really campaign and without the least concern for VP Harris. The prime time public gets their first black woman president while knowing Barack will be back in the white house. May God help us, the perfect storm.

  11. I am of the mindset that Biden, like Ford was not elected president and Harris was not elected VP. VDH supported my thinking; “changes in the 2020 state voting laws that saw 60-70 percent of the ballots in many swing states not cast on Election Day, while the rejection rate of faulty ballots counter-intuitively plunged despite such an influx”, along with those 50 former intel officers and FBI supressing the laptop.

    I would recommend Trump forego any personal attacks on Biden also and attack the policies. Since the policies are democrat, doing so would negate any candidate replacing Biden. Not one democrat has come out to condemn the border policy, the economic policy, the ‘insert policy here’……..

    When the democats finally do name Biden’s replacement Trump will have all the firepower he needs to attack the person and the policies they supported. Even Michelle Obama is not immune and the fact it was her husband the began the great division of the nation falls directly one her also as one who “was never proud of this country”.

  12. Brian O'Connor

    I’m spitballing here, but consider this.

    Biden may step down after having been nominated at the convention.

    The advantage to this is that it would avoid a nasty public floor fight at the convention, and more importantly, the DNC would decide who his successor would be. Follow the link below and you’ll see the specific provision:

    See page 20, Paragraph G (“Filling a Vacancy on the National Ticket:”) of Section IX (“Procedural Rules for the 2024 Democratic National Convention”) for the authority under which Biden would be replaced.

    Paragraph G states: “Filling a Vacancy on the National Ticket: In the event of death, resignation or disability of a nominee of the Party for President or Vice President after the adjournment of the National Convention, the National Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee shall confer with the Democratic leadership of the United States Congress and the Democratic Governors Association and shall report to the Democratic National Committee, which is authorized to fill the vacancy or vacancies.”

  13. He needs to, but it may be hard, to always act with class and be “Presidential” and stay out of the fray and name calling. The Garland road show about voter ID’s is very dangerous.

  14. Everyone is in a fight to be right and therefore is blind to reality. Thus, almost all of you will reject this but it is true. Don’t miss the most important observation: the office of President of the United States is conducted by people in the shadows. The president of the United States is a mostly a figurehead. I believe that this is true of all American presidents but Biden makes it glaringly obvious. Here is the reason that it is so: the people who pay the cost of electing a president of the United States own that person and his/her actions and public person.

  15. I am also believing the GOP candidate, must stop saying Biden and say Democrat beliefs, goals. outlining that Democrats’ far leftist migration is reason for the policies. we need to make the Democratic party the “enemy”, not Biden. it is not to early to showcase California and show how Socialism is failing citizens.

    1. Brian O'Connor

      LETLOGICRULE: I agree completely. Make every Democrat candidate take ownership of their silence about, or advocacy of, every one of this administration’s policies.

      Inflation, foreign policy, Covid mandates, southern border, crime, deterioration of the military, green failures, riots, antisemitism . . . Each Republican candidate name it and tie the failure to his/her opponent.

      A democratic candidates past silence on any of these issues is not a defense.

  16. How can more than forty percent of the population support a candidate like Biden who looks like ‘death warmed over’ and represents ‘graft warmed over’?

    What is that forty percent thinking? Or are they even thinking?

    It just boggles my mind.

    What has this country come to??

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