President Trump has once again surprised the national establishment. This week he announced his re-election campaign earlier than any president in history. Simultaneously, he announced Brad Parscale would be his campaign manager.
Both these moves are a reminder of how intuitive and strategic Donald J. Trump is. These qualities are a big part of why he was elected to be our 45th president.
Why are this week’s announcements so important? Because they express intent and demonstrate immediate implementation.
First, President Trump is saying to any potential Republican challengers: “I will crush you.” The amount of money he will raise, the scale of the organization that he will build, and the size of the pro-Trump base will all combine to make the possibility of a viable Republican challenger an absurdity. Someone can run, but he or she will never survive the first round of primaries.
Trump knows that a strong campaign for Republicans in 2018 will earn them six to 10 Senate seats, while a weak strategy could result in no gain or only one or two new seats.
President Trump is also signaling to those who fantasize about a third-party candidate (and this number may grow as the Democrats’ civil war gets more vicious) that he will have the resources and the organizational base to totally dominate the general election.
Second, President Trump is building a new Republican Party, which is much broader than the party that existed when he announced his candidacy in 2015. The president’s new, larger party is the one that carried Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the presidential election – and almost carried Minnesota. It was this larger party that turned Ohio from a competitive battlefield into a Republican landslide.
America’s rising prosperity will further broaden and deepen the Republican Party. Trump economics will be defined as the economics of more jobs, higher wages, lower taxes, more take-home pay and the vision of a prosperous America as the new normal.
The complete Democratic rejection of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – and the party’s record of the Obama-era normal of low growth, wage stagnation, unemployment and growing welfare rolls – will be a heavy burden.
There is one more big reason for President Trump announcing his re-election now: the 2018 elections.
The president knows how big a disaster Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., would be if she moves from her current post as House minority leader to become speaker of the House. He has developed a good relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and he will go all out to help keep Republican control of the House.
President Trump also knows that a strong campaign for Republicans in 2018 will earn them six to 10 Senate seats, while a weak strategy could result in no gain or only one or two new seats.
President Trump knows that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has had a brutal time dealing with the 51-49 Republican majority in the Senate. Every victory remains a miracle. This is the year when the accident of geography puts a lot of Democratic seats in play. A Republican wave election would do the trick to ensure a long-lasting Republican majority.
This is where Brad Parscale really matters.
Parscale was the digital strategy genius of the 2016 campaign. He built the Trump campaign’s huge Facebook system. He helped grow the enormous Twitter following. He was able to analyze, target and track enormous amounts of data.
Parscale’s targeted data system enabled campaign staff to reach so many people that they routinely turned out thousands at Trump rallies with only a few days’ notice.
Bringing Parscale’s brilliance at implementation to bear this year will make it a dramatically different year for Republicans. When combined with the enormous ground team that Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel is creating, 2018 has the potential to be a dramatically better year for Republicans than anyone in Washington currently expects.
These is why President Trump’s surprises this week were brilliant moves.