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Trump’s expected Georgia surrender and debate no-show shatter campaign conventionality

Posted in Featured, Talking Politics

Published on August 21, 2023 with No Comments

he already logic-shattering 2024 White House race is expected to make an extraordinary detour through an Atlanta jail this week, with Donald Trump due to turn himself in over his fourth indictment – for alleged election meddling in Georgia.

The GOP front-runner is expected to surrender, potentially for fingerprinting and a mug shot, on Thursday or Friday, a senior law enforcement source told CNN. That’ll be just hours after the first GOP debate on Wednesday – normally an early defining moment in any campaign, but one that will be overshadowed by Trump’s decision to skip it and his expected appearance at the Fulton County jail soon after. The potential juxtaposition of Trump’s appearance in Georgia with the first debate will show how every aspect of the political calendar is being entangled in Trump’s legal peril and the unprecedented government effort to try a former president – and potential major party nominee – over his effort to overturn his 2020 defeat.

Just as no other candidate facing nearly 100 criminal charges across four cases could even think about running for president, no other GOP leader could confidently snub a prime-time television debate and turn his no-show into an argument for his inevitability. But Trump – as with his attempt to use criminal indictments to advance a political career that has always prospered amid perceptions that he’s being unfairly treated – is changing all the rules of campaigning once again.

Trump’s announcement on Sunday that he wouldn’t show up for the debate in Milwaukee suggests he didn’t think it worth the risk since he has such a significant lead in most primary polling. His legal quagmire is likely to yet again dominate the GOP race, drowning out rivals who have so far largely failed to exploit Trump’s four indictments. Any post-debate bounce for the other candidates from what would normally be critical prime-time exposure is likely to be immediately overtaken by media coverage if Trump shows up at the Fulton County jail for his expected arrest, processing and release.

And Trump is already using his anticipated trip to Georgia as a political weapon, sending out a fundraising appeal on Sunday referencing a Washington Post report about a “violent Atlanta jail with crumbling walls” and accusing Democrats of adopting the totalitarian policies of Soviet and Chinese tyrants Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. The email was consistent with Trump’s use of inflammatory language to attack his political foes and to maintain the cash flow that is helping to pay his legal bills.

But his appeal also underscores one of the most head-spinning features of the campaign. A candidate who has a decent chance of being the 47th president is leveraging his unprecedented stack of criminal indictments, which could land him in prison if convicted, to seek political advantage. It’s a tactic that appears to be working among GOP primary voters given his wide polling lead thus far. Whether a potential nominee who could spend much of next year on trial rather than on the campaign trail as a viable general election candidate is another question, however.

 

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