Trump is running in 2024. The White House has a plan.


President Joe Biden discusses Election Day results at the White House in Washington on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

WASHINGTON — With Donald Trump’s announcement that he’s officially running to reclaim the Oval Office he falsely claims was stolen from him, President Joe Biden is poised to implement what some of his top aides are calling “the Trump project.” to call.

Biden has spent much of the past year putting a terrifying face on the “ultra-MAGA” agenda, targeting Republican senators, governors and state legislators. Now he will return the focus to his once and future foil – Mr. “Make America Great Again” himself.

Within the West Wing, a small group of presidential advisers has been working to develop a plan for how Biden and the White House will respond to what they expect will be a steady stream of swear words from the former president now that he is formally a candidate.

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Trump began the attacks almost immediately in his Tuesday night speech announcing his presidential run, while lamenting “Biden and the radical left lunatics who are driving our government into the ground.”

Biden will continue to underline his belief that Trump is a threat to democracy, advisers say. But his political henchmen are determined to show that Trump’s four years have brought no real achievements to the American people.

On Tuesday, just hours before Trump’s announcement, Biden’s political Twitter account posted a video mocking the former president’s claims that he was doing something about the country’s crumbling infrastructure. The video, titled “The Difference Between Talking and Delivering,” showed Biden signing his $1 trillion infrastructure measure into law, interspersed with a compilation of clips of the former president using the word “infrastructure.”

In the middle of Trump’s speech, the Twitter account posted another video, titled “Donald Trump Has Failed America,” featuring scenes of the January 6, 2021 riot on Capitol Hill.

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The effort to coordinate Trump’s response has taken months of research and is led by Anita Dunn, one of Biden’s top communications strategists, and Jen O’Malley Dillon, who led Biden’s 2020 campaign and is now deputy chief of staff at the White House. House.

Biden said last week he “intends” to run in 2024 but would talk to his family before announcing a decision early next year.

Still, officials said Trump’s presence in the race would motivate him to run again. Biden sees his predecessor as a danger that must be stopped. He frequently remarks that he is the only person to ever beat Trump, implying that he would have the best chance of doing it again. He has publicly said he would be “not disappointed” to face Trump in a rematch.

Biden was encouraged by the better-than-expected showing among Democrats during the midterm elections. But he himself remains deeply unpopular, according to polls, and he faces political headwinds: an economy still ravaged by inflation, a deepening war in Europe and persistent questions about whether he is too old for another term.

Over the past year, as the midterm elections approached, Biden has increasingly focused on the movement Trump has created.

He attacked “300 discriminatory bills” passed by the Republican legislature. He lashed out at the Texas governor for investigating transgender families. He accused Ron DeSantis, Florida’s Republican governor, of banning books; and Rick Scott, the state’s Republican senator, of a secret plot to levy taxes on Americans.

At the Democratic National Committee, officials have been eyeing the former president even after he left Washington for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. The party has assembled about 40 researchers to catalog every speech, radio address, TV appearance and newspaper article involving Trump and other Republican candidates, in an effort to compile the most comprehensive case against the former president and Republicans in the campaigns to come.

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On Tuesday, the DNC announced it would begin hiring in New Hampshire, Florida and other early primary states to hold Republican presidential candidates like Trump accountable for what they say as they begin campaigning for the White House in 2024.

It is the first time the DNC has begun hiring local employees ahead of a presidential campaign, officials said.

“Today is just the kickoff of what will be a messy Republican primary, with candidates vying to become the most extreme MAGA Republican in the race,” Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement. “The DNC will be there for all of them.”

Party officials said they would continue to highlight the actions of other potential Republican candidates, including DeSantis, along with longtime Trump supporters such as Tucker Carlson, the right-wing TBEN News host, and Mike Lindell, owner of MyPillow, who supported Trump’s election claims . fraud.

But Trump is a special case.

Biden has long said his 2020 presidential campaign was motivated by Trump. In the video announcing his 2019 campaign, Biden berated his rival for claiming “moral equality between those who spread hate and those with the courage to oppose it” after the 2017 rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia .

But as president, Biden often tried to ignore the man he calls “the former man.” Trump’s formal entry into the race could put an end to Biden’s restraint, as some Democrats will invariably pressure him to call out Trump loudly and repeatedly.

The former president and the MAGA movement he founded were central subjects in the midterm elections, even without a formal announcement of Trump’s own candidacy.

It was Trump’s successful nominations of three conservative Supreme Court justices that paved the way for the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which removed constitutional protections for abortion. Biden and the Democrats used that statement as an important part of their message to convince their voters.

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Trump’s longstanding defense of the National Rifle Association came under increasing scrutiny in the wake of shootings, including of elementary school children in Uvalde, Texas.

And Democrats had always intended to focus on the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, particularly his actions surrounding the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

It’s unclear to what extent Trump maintains the ironclad grip on Republican politicians and voters that he wielded so effectively during his four years in the White House.

Most of the election deniers who campaigned by repeating Trump’s grievances for 2020 were defeated — albeit narrowly — by Democrats who argued that Americans should reject the former president’s agenda.

White House officials remain coy about when Biden will formally announce his own decision on a second term. Once the president confirms his candidacy, new rules will come into effect on how he must raise and spend money on his campaign. His advisers want to postpone that until they are ready.

But in the meantime, Biden himself has become increasingly convinced that his mission to remove Trump from office — and keep him out of the White House — is not over.

“No one has more clearly identified the unique existential threat that Donald Trump poses to the country than Joe Biden,” Kate Bedingfield, the White House communications director, said ahead of Trump’s announcement. “And no one else has beaten him. So, you know, I think for us those are the two North Stars.

After Trump’s speech Tuesday night, a reporter traveling with the president for the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, asked Biden if he had any reaction to the announcement. Biden, who was meeting with President Emmanuel Macron of France, looked at his counterpart and the two men grinned.

“Not really,” Biden said.

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