By Beatriz Pascual Macias
Washington, Nov 5 (EFE).- The campaign for the Nov. 8 mid-term congressional elections in the United States has taken on the air of a presidential contest as Democratic incumbent Joe Biden and Republican predecessor Donald Trump have turned it into a continuation of the battle they fought in 2020 and a curtain-raiser for what could happen in 2024.
Democrats currently control both houses of Congress by very narrow margins and the party in the White House traditionally suffers losses in the mid-terms.
Biden and Trump have been on each other’s heels for much of the campaign. They both held events in September in Pennsylvania and both plan to be in the Keystone State on Saturday to drum up support for their preferred candidates.
While the outcome of the race for Pennsylvania’s open seat in the US Senate will influence which party dominates the chamber, Trump and Biden also know that the state could be decisive in the 2024 presidential election.
Trump won the state in 2016, but Pennsylvania-born Biden prevailed in 2020.
The two men have likewise campaigned in other states, including Florida and Ohio, that can be crucial in deciding the presidency.
The level of Trump’s involvement in the mid-terms is almost unprecedented for a former president, Virginia Tech professor Karen Hult told EFE.
Trump, however, continues to deny that he lost in 2020, insisting – against all evidence – that the election was stolen and hinting that he will run again in 2024.
“I will very, very, very probably” run for president, Trump said Thursday at an event in Sioux City, Iowa. “Very soon. Get ready,” he added.
Hult noted that the last former president to seek a major role in the mid-terms was Republican Herbert Hoover, who inserted himself into the 1934 campaign two years after losing the White House to Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
And the nature of Trump’s involvement also represents a departure from previous practice, as he has intervened in primaries to reward candidates loyal to him and punish those he regards as disloyal, such as Wyoming’s Liz Cheney, one of the two Republicans to join the congressional select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol by Trump supporters.
Biden has eschewed large rallies in favor of small events where he touts his administration’s accomplishments.
But while Biden once made a point of never mentioning Trump by name, referring to him instead as the “former guy,” his attacks on his predecessor have become more pointed.
The White House is characterizing next Tuesday’s election as a fight for the nation’s “soul” between those who believe in democracy and “MAGA Republicans,” a designation based on Trump’s slogan: “Make America Great Again.”
Though he has not made a formal announcement, the 79-year-old Biden has not hidden his intention to seek a second term.
“I believe I can beat Donald Trump again,” he said last month in an interview with CNN when asked about the prospect of a rematch in 2024.
Alison Dagnes, a professor of political science at Pennsylvania’s Shippensburg University, told EFE that even if Biden decides against running in 2024, he will keep that to himself until sometime next year to avoid being seen as what is known in the US as a “lame duck” – an officeholder approaching the end of his or her term in office,
For Trump, the 2024 election is an opportunity to salve his wounded pride and get revenge on Biden, according to American University professor Chris Edelson.
Trump “doesn’t like to be perceived as a loser,” Edelson told EFE.