When the Democratic presidential candidates take the debate stage in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, President Donald Trump will be stepping up to the podium for a “Keep American Great” rally in Phoenix.
This will be the Trump 2020 campaign’s first visit to Arizona this election cycle, but it is Trump’s 10th visit to the state as a candidate or president. Meanwhile, the faceoff in Vegas will be the last primary debate before the Nevada Democratic party holds its caucuses on Feb. 22.
As of Feb 15., the RealClearPolitics average of polling in Nevada has Sen. Bernie Sanders I-Vt., leading the field by doubling digits. But now, a wild card is entering the fray. The Las Vegas debate, at the Paris Theater, will also be the first include former New York City, Michael Bloomberg.
“We’ve never seen a Democrat debate like this,” said Varney. “The eight previous debates were restrained, rather boring affairs with steadily declining TV ratings. But tonight, one of the richest men in the world is on the Democrat stage. How can you not take a look?”
Bloomberg, who is self-funding his presidential campaign, qualified for the debate after the Democratic National Committee dropped its requirement that all debate participants meet a specific number of grassroots donors in order to participate.
“He’s got a target on his back. He has to perform,” said Varney. “He could buy his way into the debate, but he can’t buy a winning performance.”
The dueling events in Vegas and Phoenix will also provide Americans with a sneak peek at what’s to come in the general election, according to Varney.
“We’ve never seen a presidency like this,” he added, “The rallies are something new in presidential politics. They’re made for TV. And Mr. Trump is a very good TV producer.”
Trump carried Arizona by 3.5 percentage points over former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, but political observers suspect that 2020 may be a tighter contest.
“This is the presidential election on live TV!” Varney concluded. “This isn’t the impeachment hearings. No way. The president is deliberately going head-to-head with his opponents. Nobody’s done that before. He’s putting on a show.”
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