Will Donald Trump Take a Page from Grover Cleveland’s Presidential Playbook?
Early on during his first term in the White House, Donald Trump made clear his high regard for Andrew Jackson, U.S. president from 1829 to 1837 and familiar face on the twenty-dollar Federal Reserve Note here in the 21st century. In the first months of his presidency, Trump even hung Jackson’s portrait in the Oval Office.
But if reporting from CNN’s Jim Acosta is to be believed, there is a good chance Trump’s historical focus will soon turn to another 19th-century president — a man whose likeness is found not on the commonplace twenty but on the now-defunct thousand-dollar note: Grover Cleveland.
Why would Trump spend any time whatsoever thinking about Cleveland? Because after it sinks in that he did, in fact, lose the election to Joe Biden, Cleveland becomes a natural case study for Trump.
Cleveland is the only president in American history to lose his first reelection bid, regroup, and rejoin the battle four years later. Cleveland won reelection in his second attempt, making him both the 22nd and 24th U.S. president. If Donald Trump attempts a “Resurrection Run” in 2024 and manages to succeed, Cleveland would get some company in that category. Now just “45,” Trump would also become “47.”
Trump may or may not be a fan of the legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, but either way, do not expect him to go gentle into that good night.
Trump is no George W. Bush — he’s more like Gorgeous George
Like some kind of pro wrestling superstar hellbent on having the last word in an ongoing shouting match with hundreds of opponents past, present and future, Trump is not going to just slink away and start painting pictures like former President George W. Bush did after leaving office in 2009.
The current lame duck occupant of the White House is not constitutionally capable of such a withdrawal from the limelight. Like some orange-furred Energizer Bunny jacked up on a terrifying combination of fast food, sleep deprivation and a pathological need for attention, he will no doubt concoct what seems to him to be a can’t-miss plan to reclaim his rightful home in Washington, D.C.
Trump may well leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on Jan. 20 and — in his mind — “allow” Joe and Jill Biden and their two dogs to stay there rent-free for four years. But he will always fundamentally believe he belongs there. The 2020 election? Merely a sham eviction notice he nonetheless must obey, at least in the short term.
If he does not announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential race the same day Biden takes office, look for the announcement to come no later than Presidents Day, which falls on Feb. 15 in 2021. Announcing his candidacy as early as possible will allow serious fundraising to get an early start, and despite blowing through almost $1 billion of other people’s money in the 2020 campaign, Trump ought to have no trouble exceeding that amount in time for 2024 thanks to the intense adulation of so many of his supporters.
Age could be an obstacle — or not
But will Trump have enough gas left in the tank come 2024?
Cleveland was 47 when he first took office in 1885. He was 51 when he left the White House after losing the electoral college to Benjamin Harrison despite gaining a higher total of the popular vote. In 1893, Cleveland returned to the White House at age 55 after defeating Harrison in their rematch.
Trump will be 78 on Inauguration Day 2024. That’s roughly the same age Biden will be when he takes office in January. But Trump is still the younger of the two by almost four years — which just happens to be the length of a presidential term.
Supposing Biden manages to get through the next four years and can still project the image of a man up to the task, and supposing Trump does not face any major health issues before the next cycle of presidential primary debates (which are less than three years away), then you can expect the name “Grover Cleveland” to pop up in more modern-day political discussions than you ever thought possible.
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