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Long shots for president? How about no shots

Questions about age don’t throw 2024 edge to the likes of Ramaswamy or RFK Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially announces his candidacy for president on April 19, 2023 in Boston.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially announces his candidacy for president on April 19, 2023 in Boston. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

The political world is aflutter with recent polling showing voters of all partisan stripes saying President Joe Biden should not run again.

He is too old, asserted observers who have been making the same argument for months.

Polls also showed — and this may knock you off your seat — that most voters definitely don’t want a Biden versus Donald Trump presidential rematch next year. Gasp!

I suppose this could come as a shock to you if you have been living under a rock for the last year or if you just finished reading Peggy Noonan’s April 29th Wall Street Journal column, “Biden vs. Trump in 2024? Don’t Be So Sure.”

But if you have been paying any attention to politics and polling over the last few months, you’ve seen and heard these points before about Biden’s age and the public’s revulsion at the thought of another Biden-Trump rematch.

Anyway, recent polling and Noonan’s column set off another round of chatter on cable news panels that was repeated on the Sunday morning shows and in major national newspapers. Biden even joked about it himself at Saturday’s White House Correspondents Dinner. “Look, I get that age is a completely reasonable issue,” he said, adding: “You might think I don’t like Rupert Murdoch. That’s simply not true. How can I dislike a guy who makes me look like Harry Styles?”

The president’s quips notwithstanding, most other speculation centers around whether Biden could win a second term if he faces Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who turns 45 later this year and has spent the last few months showing he can be as nasty and narcissistic as Trump.

Talk about the uncertainty in 2024 ratcheted up a level when Robert F. Kennedy Jr. started to receive more attention, including an appearance on CNN’s Michael Smerconish show on Saturday. 

Television personalities seem to be drawn to third- and fourth-tier candidates who have no chance of winning. I suspect they feel they are giving all the hopefuls “equal time” and are therefore being “fair” to all. Or maybe that’s just who they could book at the moment.

In any case, Republicans Larry Elder, Perry Johnson, and Vivek Ramaswamy and Democrats Marianne Williamson and Kennedy, all of whom have announced they are running for president, are lucky they are getting any attention at all. 

Elder is a Black conservative who seems to be following Alan Keyes’ path to political obscurity, while Johnson and Ramaswamy are wealthy businessmen with no national name recognition. 

The 37-year-old, Ivy League-educated Ramaswamy got an inexplicably large chunk of time on Sunday’s Meet the Press. He has no experience in government, though he is smart enough to try to turn that into an asset by calling himself an “outsider.”

“Outsider” is one word that comes to mind.

Others include fast-talking snake oil salesman and phony, who talks one minute about bringing the country together and then attacks wokism, transgenderism, climatism, globalism, and Covidism (whatever that is).

Ramaswamy favors shutting down the FBI and replacing it with an institution that “respects the law instead of making it up.”

When asked what he’ll do if Trump refuses to debate, Ramaswamy naively responded, “I’m not going to let him get away with that.” I’m sure that response has Trump shaking in his boots.

Democratic “no shots” Williamson and Kennedy at least have famous names. But both have political baggage from years outside the political mainstream.

Williamson, 70, has already run for Congress (in 2014) and for president (in 2020). She is widely associated with “New Age” spiritual books and public appearances. 

Kennedy, who will turn 70 in January, is the son of former attorney general and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. He is best known as an opponent of mandatory vaccinations, and his views on energy, the environment and foreign policy place him on the left fringe of the Democratic Party.

This is the point at which you ought to look back on my columns and find the one in which I said that Trump had no chance of winning in 2016. I was wrong then, and I could be wrong now.

That’s a fair point, I suppose, except that Trump was running in a general election, and he became president even though he lost the popular vote. The long shots/no shots in this column are running for their parties’ nominations, not in next year’s general election. They’ll never get that far.

This cycle’s “no shots” are generally outside the political mainstream, or they lack the credentials that will allow them to run a serious campaign. 

Yes, voters think another Biden versus Trump race is unappealing, which is why early polls show some long shots drawing support. It’s an easy way for voters to show their dissatisfaction with a possible repeat of 2020. But that doesn’t mean lasting support for the likes of Williamson and Kennedy.

Of course, unforeseen events could intervene to change the fundamental parameters of the 2024 race. But even if that happens, the presidential long shots I’ve mentioned will fall back into obscurity. They simply can’t compete with former Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, let alone Trump, DeSantis and Biden. 

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