Welcome to your weekly review of all the great news, strange rules, and interesting events from the world of American politics.
Midwestern state of Iowa produces more corn than anywhere else in the United States where bread slices were invented and has a state fair with a selection of delicacies called things like “Chicken Bacon Ranch Cruncholi” and “Flaming Hot Cheeto Funnel Cake.”
It is also known for being “first in the nation” when it comes to the primary process of deciding the candidates who will continue to contest parliamentary elections each election year.
That’s why anyone with the slightest intention of running for the White House will find an excuse to visit Iowa to test the waters before the race even begins.
And folks, last weekend, Donald Trump took to a convention in Iowa.
You are all extremely familiar with the blink-blink-blink-nudge-nudge game Trump has been playing to announce his 2024 intentions so far, but on the scale of subtlety, this rally in the Flaming Hot Cheeto Funnel Cake was the end of the spectrum.
In fact, the Washington Post has reported that the former president was ready to announce his candidacy for 2024, only to be spoken out for because of the limits he would suddenly be below when it comes to fundraising, campaign funding and equal time rules on TV appearances.
America’s non-partisan Capitol Hill television company CSPAN retaliated when it said the silent part out loud and badged its coverage of the event as “Campaign 2024”.
The rally itself was full of the usual false claims about the 2020 election he has trotted out at previous events … except this time he was flanked by dozens of elected Republicans from the state.
That includes Senator Chuck Grassley, who laughed when he accepted the former president’s approval to run for re-election in 2022 at the convention. If you want a reminder of how long nine months are in politics, after the January 6 riots, Grassley said this in a statement:
“He [Trump] degraded and harassed elected officials across the country to get his will. He urged his own, loyal Vice President, Mike Pence, to take extraordinary and unconstitutional actions during the counting of the Electoral College.
Other than that, the former president revealed that if he ran (wink-wink-nudge-nudge), he would already have a slogan ready.
Trump’s current “I run, but I’m not telling you officially” attitude makes life … at best, awkward … for the shift of other Republicans who thought they would get a seat in the White House when their first-time president was convincingly torn up by American voters in the last election.
One of them is Pence, who will be visiting Iowa himself in a few weeks.
Another is Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who led a recent poll among potential 2024 Republican candidates without Trump in it.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott – as you may recall from his speech at the Republican convention in 2020 – has quietly raised $ 8.3 million ($ 11.2 million) for a possible bid.
But almost all of these otherwise strong challengers are expected to keep their powder dry if Trump really decides to run.
Which leaves us political spectators in this weird limbo, where candidates get ready to run because Trump has not said anything yet, but at the same time refuse to say anything that might give the impression that they are running to not disturb Trumps legion of followers … that they need to win.
One candidate who has not kissed the ring at Mar-A-Lago is a former ally of Trump-Chris Christie.
He told a podcast that he “is not going to put anyone off” when he decides to run or not, and in a September speech at the Ronald Reagan Library, where he talked about “where we’re going to party if we must be able to win back the voters we so clearly lost in 2020 “.
“We have to stop wasting our time, our energy and our credibility on claims that will never ever convince anyone of anything,” Christie said.
“Pretending we won when we lost is a waste of time and energy and credibility.”
The former president did not listen. At his rally in Iowa, Trump proposed his strategy to help Republicans at the midterm and a (blink-blink-nudge-nudge) potential comeback in 2024 is to talk about … the 2020 election.
A tactic there even his most ardent followers, and people in that Iowa crowd last week, are not really warming up.
Some news – Bill Clinton has been hospitalized
The former president is receiving treatment for a “non-Covid-related infection,” according to his spokesman Angel Urena.
In better news, Urena says Clinton is already “improving.”
“He is recovering, in a good mood and is incredibly grateful to doctors, nurses and staff who provide him with excellent care,” he said.
The ICYMI debt crisis was averted
For now at least.
This week, the House Democrats, without the support of any Republicans, passed a short-term increase in the U.S. debt limit, temporarily postponing the prospect of a global financial disaster until December 3rd.
President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill soon.
So that means we’ll have the same battle again in just a few weeks, as the world’s financial markets are once again nervously waiting to see if American politicians can get their act together.
You should not expect the mood between the two camps to improve with the extra time this bill provides.
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats were playing “Russian roulette” with the economy, calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to travel to Europe.
“I can only assume that she hopes the full faith and credit of the United States will be sorted out,” McConnell said.
Keep an eye on … Bid Approval Rating
You could call it a fall. Maybe a tumble. If he was a golfer, you would say he has yips.
But no matter how you go about it, the President will not be happy.
You know that when it comes to approval ratings, it is always prudent to wait for the trend to show before jumping to conclusions.
We have now waited and the trend is bad news for Biden, who has not been able to claw his way back to a positive approval area since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
The FiveThirtyEights average has 49.2 percent of Americans dismissing it from its job, ahead of 44.5 percent of Americans approving it.
The same experts attribute the decline to a number of factors, with the resurgence of coronavirus thanks to the Delta variant being the most to blame.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki said there was “no doubt” that the pandemic weighed on the president’s approval.
It’s a problem for Biden, just as it was a problem for his predecessor. Trying to fix the pandemic was once described to me as flipping an aircraft carrier – no matter how hard you try, it does not flip fast.
The difference is that Biden has a little over a year until voters go to the polls, but Donald Trump only had a few months.
Democrats, who will begin their midterm re-election campaigns in earnest very soon, hope the president has already begun to turn that wheel.
Breaking the Internet
If you, like most of the planet, have enjoyed Netflix’s smashing Squid Game, you can partially thank former President Donald Trump.
In an interview with IndieWire, the show’s creator Hwang Dong-hyuk talked about the process of getting the show done, despite having ideas for it as far back as 2008.
Among other things, as the rise of IT giants and young people investing their money in cryptocurrency, Dong-hyuk said Donald Trump’s presidency convinced him that now was the right time to finally release his passion project to the world.
Spoilers for Squid Game will follow if you have not seen it.
In the same interview, the creator said there were no plans for a sequel yet. But as you now know, Trump has not yet confirmed whether he will also run in 2024.