Today’s Republican Party is enslaved by conspiracy theories, ranging from QAnon to the numerous convoluted explanations for why their favorite president failed re-election, and even newer beliefs about how he could reclaim his former post. (Spoiler: He won’t be able to.) And it starts at the top: A upcoming book about Donald Trump’s failed second term, according to Vanity Fair, claims that his belief in one wacky theory about his successor may have contributed to his loss in November.
Frankly, We Did Win This Election”: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost is the title of a book written by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender, who spoke with over 150 insiders, including Trump himself. It’s well known that he regarded Biden as an unworthy opponent. One of the stories in the book is that Trump interrupted a policy discussion to rant, “How am I losing in the polls to a mental retard?”
What’s remarkable is that he thought in a fanciful belief that the Democratic Party would take the nomination from him, replacing him with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama since their nominee was too old and gaffe-prone to beat Trump. Dick Morris, a former Clinton aide who became a GOP stooge, came up with the concept, while others speculated that Biden might get out if Trump attacked him too harshly.
But there’s more, as Vanity Fair writes:
According to Bender, Trump also felt that his attack strategy had backfired during the first stage of the Democratic primary. “The president, meanwhile, had often complained that his early attack on [Elizabeth] Warren had damaged her presidential bid, which he regretted because he viewed her as an easier opponent than Biden,” Bender writes. “Now he worried that a heavy blitz of attack ads would hasten the secret plot being hatched by Democrats, and his mind raced with who they might select in Biden’s place.”
Some of his coworkers attempted, but failed, to persuade him to abandon his viewpoint. Trump even “cited that as a rationale to hold off on substantial spending against Biden earlier this month,” according to Bender. The presidential election of 2020 was one of the most acrimonious in history, but it could have been lot worse. Imagine the advertisements that would have run and the ferocity of the discussions if Trump had not committed to such a bizarre notion. That may have backfired as well, alienating even more voters. But we’ll never know how close we came to having Trump for another four years.