Biden White House asks 'Trump who?' ahead of speech to conservatives
Send a link to a friend
[February 27, 2021]
By Alexandra Alper and Jarrett Renshaw
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe
Biden's White House has made it clear it plans to ignore Donald Trump's
speech on Sunday to a conservative conference in Florida, where the
former president is expected to go on the attack against his successor.
"Our focus is certainly not on what President Trump is saying" at the
Conservative Political Action Conference, White House Press Secretary
Jen Psaki told reporters.
It's a strategy that has worked before, political veterans and
"Biden is obeying an old political rule, which is 'Never get in the way
of a train wreck'," said Bob Shrum, former Democratic strategist and
director of the Center for Political Future at University of Southern
Biden's approval ratings in Gallup polls have remained above 55% since
he took office on Jan. 20, and support for the White House's $1.9
trillion COVID-relief package is higher.
"Why should somebody with a 60 percent approval rating be fighting with
someone with a 33 percent approval rating?," Shrum said. "It just
doesnít make any sense."
Democratic strategist Steve Elmendorf agreed.
"One of Bidenís great strengths in the campaign was he focused on the
future ... he is doing exactly what he needs to do which is talk about
COVID and the economy," Elmendorf said.
Meanwhile, Republicans are at loggerheads over how to deal with Trump's
Several of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump on
an impeachment charge over the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol have
faced censure votes at home.
Others, like House minority leader Kevin McCarthy, have taken great
pains to walk back initial criticism of Trump's role on Jan. 6, when he
urged his supporters to march on the Capitol.
"The Republicans are having a fight with themselves about Donald Trump,"
Elmendorf said. "We should let them have it and stay out of it."
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump departs on travel to West Point, New York
from the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, U.S., December
12, 2020. REUTERS/Cheriss May/File Photo
On Sunday, Trump is expected to signal a run in 2024 and put
Republicans who supported his impeachment on notice, while accusing
Biden of opening the doors to immigrants.
The White House plans to shrug.
"Well, weíre not looking to former President Trump or any of his
advisers as a model for how we're approaching immigration," Psaki
Some say any truly incendiary remarks on Sunday or afterwards
deserve a federal government response, however.
"Anything that [Trump] says that threatens the constitutional order
is going to be beyond the pale and there are going to be, in effect,
certain red lines that if Trump goes over them, that Biden will feel
compelled to say something," said David Gergen, a former adviser to
Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill
"The more Biden is able to hold back, the more important it will be
when he unloads on Trump if he decides to do that," Gergen said.
But there's little reason to comment on Trump otherwise, Princeton
political history professor Julian Zelizer said.
Biden "is on the cusp of a major stimulus relief package that is
enormously popular so why allow the former president to take the
peopleís eyes off of that? I just donít think there is any incentive
for him to do it," Zelizer said.
(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by
Heather Timmons and Sonya Hepinstall)
[© 2021 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2021 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Thompson Reuters is solely responsible for this content.