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Nation & World

Michelle Obama against Trump?

Former first lady Michelle Obama at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus on May 1.
Former first lady Michelle Obama at Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus on May 1.

WASHINGTON – Democrats eager to oust President Donald Trump in 2020 could pin their hopes on an 11th-hour bid by former first lady Michelle Obama rather than the roughly two dozen candidates now in the mix, former White House strategist Steve Bannon suggested.

“I don’t see anybody that’s on this stage right now that can take President Trump one-on-one,” Bannon, a key player in Trump’s 2016 victory, said on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures.” Democrats whose No. 1 priority is beating Trump could find their best option with candidates who aren’t yet in the race, Bannon said.

“I’m not so sure his opponent has even declared yet. You’ve got to watch guys like Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama – a whole raft of potentials,” Bannon said. “There’s a number of potential Democratic candidates still out there that could join this race.”

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, has already said he won’t run for president and reiterated that decision on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 nominee, said in March she has no plans to run again.

‘Zero chance’

Obama, the wife of former President Barack Obama, also recently said there was “zero chance” she would make a bid for the White House.

But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from raising her name, or from flirting with the idea of a celebrity candidate from outside the world of politics, from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to TV personality Oprah Winfrey.

Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore recently called on Michelle Obama to run as the best hope for Democrats to beat Trump in 2020, saying the popular former first lady would “crush” the president.

“She is a beloved American, and she would go in there, and she would beat him,” Moore said on MSNBC. “She would beat him in the debates, he wouldn’t be able to bully her, he wouldn’t be able to nickname her.”

In a hypothetical match-up, 50% of likely U.S. voters would vote for Obama over Trump, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey in November. Winfrey had a 10-point edge over Trump in similar Rasmussen polling in January 2018.


Obama, 55, was named the world’s most admired woman in a 2019 YouGov survey, ahead of Winfrey and actress Angelina Jolie.

Fueling the dreams of a Democratic star turn may be concern about the electoral chances of the party’s current front-runner, 76-year-old former Vice President Joe Biden.

An Aug. 6 Quinnipiac University poll found Biden has the support of 32% of Democrats and independent voters who lean Democratic, followed by Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California.

Bannon cast doubt on Biden’s chances Sunday.

“If the Democratic Party thinks that Joe Biden is going to be able to go mano-a-mano with Donald Trump in a general election campaign, they’ve got another thing coming,” Bannon said. “He will run the tables on Biden.”

Any Democrat jumping in the 2020 race now would be behind other candidates who have spent months courting voters in early voting states such as Iowa and South Carolina.

But, Bannon said, an eleventh-hour candidate who gains momentum could make a play for support at the Democratic National Convention, to be held July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“There’s going to be ample opportunity to come into this race later in November, December, even when the primaries start,” he said. “Maybe a candidate can’t win the primary season, but they can take it in to the convention.”

—With assistance from Ben Brody.


©2019 Bloomberg News

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