President Joe Biden and his Oval Office predecessor, Donald Trump, are about to wage the most direct showdown yet of their possible rematch as far-right House Republicans drive the nation to the brink of a government shutdown.
Intense activity from Washington to swing-state Michigan during this pivotal week will recall how extremism rocked political institutions during the ex-president’s turbulent term and will test Biden’s capacity to again exploit the chaos to empower his reelection bid.b
The government could run out of money at midnight Saturday as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy struggles to control a burn-it-down faction in his majority. The rebels are holding funding hostage to their demands for huge spending cuts that they have no power to force the Democratic-run Senate and White House to accept.
Trump, seeking to sow dysfunction on Biden’s watch and advance his political goals as the GOP front-runner for 2024, is goading his loyalists to shut Washington down.
Hundreds of miles away in Michigan, Biden and Trump will step up their putative general election campaign in an early skirmish over blue-collar Midwestern votes against the backdrop of a strike paralyzing the iconic American auto industry. The stoppage exposed a fault line between Biden’s long-time support for union workers seeking pay rises and his plans for an electric vehicle revolution that could transform the industry. Trump, who opposes plans for a low carbon economy to fight climate change, initiated the showdown by scheduling a visit to the striking workers on Wednesday – the same night other GOP hopefuls will be debating. In a radio ad, the ex-president’s team claims he always stood for auto workers even as the United Auto Workers union warns a second Trump term would be a disaster for organized labor.
The Biden campaign initially blasted Trump’s trip as a “self-serving photo op.” But Biden then announced he would travel to Michigan a day before Trump for a historic walk along the picket line. The move reflects a show of political dexterity from the Biden team after days of unflattering coverage over the president’s age and it comes as new polls Sunday showed him locked in a theoretical dead heat match-up with Trump in November 2024 amid voter dissatisfaction over his management of the economy. Michigan – which Trump won in 2016 but Biden pulled back into the Democratic column in 2020 – will again be a vital general election state.
The drama in the Wolverine State will overshadow the second Republican debate, which Trump’s massive polling lead and refusal to attend has turned into a squabble for a distant second place in the race. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will try to build on momentum coming out of the first debate in Wisconsin last month,…