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Five Reasons Trump’s Reelection Announcement Was Politically Smart

On Tuesday, President Trump confirmed that he will run for reelection in 2020. This announcement comes a mere month into his second year in office, a whopping 980 days before the election. With Trump all in for 2020, he’s also hired Brad Parscale, his former digital media director, as his new campaign manager. My initial reaction to the news was this was a silly idea that carried political risks, but it turns out this was a good move on his part. Here are five reasons Trump’s super early announcement was politically smart.

1. It Ends All Speculation

Not seeking a second term is rare, but not unprecedented. Only three presidents (Polk, Buchanan, and Hayes) chose not to run for president a second time. Sure, most people likely assumed Trump would run for reelection, but the man can be unpredictable and some on the left quietly held out hope that he’d tire of this job and leave of his own accord. So, there was reason to believe he might end his unconventional presidency prematurely—Trump’s first wife, Ivana, thought he would. There’s also been media speculation that Trump doesn’t even like being president and misses his life in the private sector.

Even some Republican leaders considered Trump not seeking reelection a real possibility. Last year, Chris Christie suggested that Trump might want to return to the private sector after one term. “Four years is a long time, and especially for someone who has not spent a lifetime in politics, so I think those years affect him differently.” Senator Rand Paul suggested it wasn’t a done deal when asked about it on MSNBC. According to Paul, Republicans “need to know [if] President Trump [is] running for re-election.”

Well, everyone knows now.

2. It Wards Off Republican Challengers

If Republicans are speculating if Trump might seek reelection, it opens the door to speculative Republican presidential bids, even a primary. Senator Rand Paul even said, “There could well be a primary” in 2020. By announcing this early, Trump has now shut the door on that possibility. Any potential Republican candidate with a real future who thought his or her opportunity for a White House bid might come early will now hang up the gloves until 2024.

Sure, an anti-Trump Republican might wage an inconsequential campaign with the real goal of securing a gig as a contributor on Fox News or at some other network, but Trump establishing his reelection intentions early means no serious Republican will consider challenging him. Trump will be the Republican presidential candidate in 2020, and any Republicans entertaining the possibility of a 2020 bid for the presidency just had their dreams crushed.

3. It May Help Republicans in the 2018 Midterms