The US now stuck with Biden vs. Trump as the rest of the world watches the battle for the nation’s future begins

13 March 2024, 13:45 | Updated: 13 March 2024, 13:49

The US now stuck with Biden vs. Trump and the rest of the world can only watch as the battle for the nation’s future starts
The US now stuck with Biden vs. Trump and the rest of the world can only watch as the battle for the nation’s future starts. Picture: LBC/Getty
  • Simon Marks is LBC's Washington Correspondent
Simon Marks

By Simon Marks

The news became official with a symmetry reflective of the ties that have bound Joe Biden and Donald Trump together since 2016.

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Both men, within hours of each other, secured a majority of delegates at their nominating conventions this summer, assuring them of becoming their respective party’s leader in November.

Biden’s news broke first, his victory in Georgia – the very state where Trump is facing criminal charges of subverting the outcome of the 2020 election – clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination for the President.

Trump had to wait four hours longer before his hands firmly gripped the Republican nomination. Wins in Georgia, Mississippi, Hawaii and Washington put him over the top.

For each man, it’s a singular triumph to secure the nomination this early in the process. Biden weathered challenges from Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota, whose effort to proffer himself as a younger alternative to the 81-year-old failed spectacularly.

Trump faced a more serious rival in Nikki Haley, but his former Ambassador to the United Nations melted away after failing to persuade Republicans in Iowa, New Hampshire and then her own home state of South Carolina to break with her old boss. He becomes the first Republican ever to win the party’s nomination three times.

In a statement, Biden described himself as “honored that the broad coalition of voters representing the rich diversity of Democratic Party….have put their faith in me once again to lead our party”.

He went on to warn that “the threat Trump poses is greater than ever”. He will bring that message to the campaign trail in Wisconsin and Michigan this week, after already launching a $30 million blitz across seven battleground states that he hopes will revive his own fortunes and reverse Trump’s momentum.

Trump, in a video message released to supporters via a fund-raising e-mail, hailed “a great day of victory…I want to thank everybody, but much more importantly we have to get to work to beat Joe Biden”.

Earlier in the day, without a hint of irony, he bestowed a new moniker on himself as he challenged Biden to a “full scale debate”. 

The former President insisted that the encounter should take place “immediately….between Crooked Joe and Honest Don. I’m ready to go, ANY TIME, ANY PLACE!”

Last Friday, in a brief interaction with reporters aboard Air Force One, Biden said the prospect of a televised face-off with Trump “depends on his [Trump’s] behaviour”.

The President did not elaborate on what changes in his predecessor’s demeanour might persuade him to agree to the meeting.

In fact, there are already three presidential debates and one vice-presidential debate scheduled to take place later this year.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, which has overseen arrangements for TV encounters between the major presidential candidates since 1987, has announced the first event will occur on September 16th at Texas State University in San Marcos, followed by second debate on October 1st in Virginia, and a third on October 9th in Salt Lake City. (The Vice-Presidential candidates are due to meet in Pennsylvania on September 25th).

But enormous uncertainty and skepticism abounds regarding that schedule. The Commission is jointly organised by the Democratic and Republican parties, and with Trump now moving to install only proven loyalists at the Republican National Committee, his representatives may seek to impose debate rules that Democrats find impossible to swallow.

Even if America is eventually denied a chance to see the two candidates square off against one another, the country will certainly be seeing plenty of both of them between now and November.

U.S. voters must now endure a general election that will play out over more than seven-and-a-half months, and bring the activity of governance to a virtual standstill.

Congress, already breaking all records for inaction, will now also enter election mode, with one third of the Senate and the entire House of Representatives up-for-grabs alongside the Presidency.

That is almost certainly bad news for Ukraine. Republicans in the House of Representatives are under orders from Trump to reject Biden’s urgent pleas for an additional $60 billion in aid for Kyiv.

Polish President Donald Tusk, visiting Washington on Tuesday, urged Mike Rogers, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, to put the bill to an immediate vote.

“On his individual decision depends the fate of millions of people. In fact, on his decision depends thousands of lives in Ukraine….he must be aware of his personal responsibility”, Tusk told reporters at the White House.

But America is now officially about to start looking inward even more than usual. The election topography is set, to the grave disquiet of millions of voters who would prefer different choices.

The country is now stuck with Biden vs. Trump, and the rest of the world can only watch as the battle for the nation’s future commences.

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