Today’s Republican party is in thrall to conspiracy theories, from QAnon to the many convoluted takes on how their favorite president lost re-election, even to newer ones about how he could take his old job back. (Spoiler: He can’t.) And it comes from the top: According to Vanity Fair, a forthcoming book about Donald Trump’s failed second term alleges that his belief in one wacko idea involving his successor might have caused him to lose in November.
The book is Frankly, We Did Win This Election”: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost, by Wall Street Journal journo Michael Bender, who interviewed over 150 insiders, including Trump himself. It’s common knowledge that he saw Biden as an unworthy adversary. One tale within — that Trump interrupted a policy meeting to vent, “How am I losing in the polls to a mental retard?’” — is hardly surprising.
What is surprising, though, is this: He believed in a harebrained theory that the Democratic Party, realizing their nominee was too old and gaffe-prone to beat Trump, was going to steal the nomination away from him, replacing him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama. The idea came from Dick Morris, an old Clinton staffer-turned-GOP stooge, while others thought that Biden would drop out should Trump bash him too hard.
But there’s more, as Vanity Fair writes:
According to Bender, Trump also felt that his attack strategy had backfired during the first stage of the Democratic primary. “The president, meanwhile, had often complained that his early attack on [Elizabeth] Warren had damaged her presidential bid, which he regretted because he viewed her as an easier opponent than Biden,” Bender writes. “Now he worried that a heavy blitz of attack ads would hasten the secret plot being hatched by Democrats, and his mind raced with who they might select in Biden’s place.”
Some staffers tried to talk him out of this theory, but for naught. Trump even, Bender writes, “cited it as a reason to hold off on heavy spending against Biden earlier in the month.” The 2020 presidential election was one of the nastiest in history, but it certainly could have been even meaner. Imagine the ads that would have run, the viciousness of the debates had Trump not subscribed to so deranged an idea. That could have backfired, too, alienating even more voters than before. But we’ll probably never know how close we came to four more years with Trump.
(Via Vanity Fair)