For much of the past year, Donald Trump and his allies have speculated that Joe Biden might not end up as the Democratic presidential nominee. They have suggested, without evidence, that Biden would step down before the convention and be replaced by another candidate.

As Biden faces an increasingly uncertain political future following a shaky debate performance, Republicans are assessing what his potential withdrawal might mean for the Trump campaign. Many believe that Trump’s path back to the White House would be easier if Biden remains the Democratic nominee.

Trump and his allies have enjoyed the media focus on Biden this week. The former president has been keeping a low profile at his New Jersey club, allowing Biden to dominate the news cycle. Trump has no public events scheduled, and his campaign has encouraged aides to take a break for the Fourth of July holiday. “Chaos is our friend,” a person close to Trump said.

Meanwhile, Trump’s campaign advisers and key allies are reaching out to reporters and friendly Democrats, seeking information on what might happen if Biden steps aside. Until now, the campaign has largely ignored Vice President Kamala Harris in their attacks on the Biden administration. However, this approach appears to be changing. On Wednesday, a super PAC aligned with Trump, MAGA, Inc., launched its first attack on Harris, criticizing her oversight of Biden’s border policies in an email titled “The Best They Got?”, told The New York Post.

Trump’s campaign insists that their strategy will not change, regardless of who is at the top of the Democratic ticket. “President Trump will beat any Democrat on November 5th because he has a proven record and an agenda to Make America Great Again,” co-campaign managers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a statement, reported by AP News.

Despite Biden’s potential withdrawal, the Trump campaign believes the key issues influencing the election will remain the same. “The issues are the issues, and that’s what people care about,” an adviser told CNN. However, polling has shown a lack of enthusiasm for both major parties’ presumptive nominees, making it unclear how a change could affect Democratic turnout or sway swing voters.

Behind the scenes, the Republican National Committee has “rolling books” of opposition research on prominent Democrats who could succeed Biden in 2028, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom. This research is continually updated, as these figures are considered perpetual candidates.

Some Republicans have publicly speculated about Biden’s exit from the race, pointing to his physical decline. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley have made it a focal point of their campaigns, arguing that Democrats might replace Biden and that Republicans shouldn’t risk running Trump against a younger, more energetic challenger.

Trump himself has repeatedly suggested that Biden might not finish the race. In an interview nearly a year ago with Tucker Carlson, Trump and Carlson discussed the possibility of Biden being replaced on the Democratic ticket, with Trump predicting a potential free-for-all if that happened.

In the aftermath of the debate, Trump’s team did not anticipate lasting Democratic panic about Biden’s viability as the party’s nominee. One adviser expected the concern to blow over within a week. Now, Trump’s team is preparing for all possible outcomes, including a new campaign focused on a different opponent.

“Every Democrat who is calling on Crooked Joe Biden to quit was once a supporter of Biden and his failed policies that lead to extreme inflation, an open border, and chaos at home and abroad,” LaCivita and Wiles said. Republicans are also planning how to target Harris, focusing on her past statements defending Biden’s fitness to serve.

Despite the speculation, many close to Trump believe a change is unlikely due to the low name recognition of potential Biden replacements and the logistical challenges of transferring Biden’s campaign funds to a new candidate. Biden himself has insisted he isn’t going anywhere, telling staff on a campaign call, “No one is pushing me out” and vowing to stay in the race.

Efforts to keep Biden on the ballot might come from the right as well. The Heritage Foundation, a Trump-aligned conservative organization, has been preparing for this moment and recently revealed a playbook to challenge Democratic attempts to replace Biden in certain states. Mike Howell, executive director of Heritage’s election oversight project, emphasized the importance of timing in any legal challenge.

Rick Hasen, an election law expert at UCLA, dismissed the idea that Democrats would face legal trouble in naming a new candidate before Biden is officially nominated, stating, “Joe Biden is not the party’s nominee now, and states generally point to the major party’s nominee as the one whose name is on the ballot.”



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