Nov 3, 2018 - Politics & Policy

A tale of three presidents

Trump speaking to crowd, Obama hugging fan

Left: Trump in Charlotte (Sean Rayford/Getty Images). Right: Obama in Vegas (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

President Trump and President Obama have gleefully turned Tuesday's midterms into a proxy fight over their legacies, while President Clinton is sidelined during a season when he had dreamed of being back in the spotlight.

Both presidents are on sprints: Trump is hitting 11 rallies in eight states in six days. Obama will hit Illinois and Indiana tomorrow, after stops yesterday in Florida and Georgia.

Trump and Obama, each a human turnout machine for their parties, have poured on the multi-stop days, and clearly relish trolling each other across the battlegrounds:

  • Trump: "I heard President Obama speak today. I had to listen. I was in the plane. I had nothing else to do."
  • Obama: "Everything I say, you can look up on the internet. ... Here's your chance to vote for people who actually know what the internet is."
  • Trump: "I listened to President Obama today. He had a very small crowd, I have to be honest. They don’t tell you that. Y'know, they don't tell you that."
  • Obama: "Right now, Republicans are all: 'Look, the economy is so good.' Where do you think that started? When did that start?”

The N.Y. Times' Peter Baker writes that Obama looks energized as he violates the tradition of his predecessors, who have rarely directly attacked their predecessors:

  • "Obama’s voice has a way of lifting into a high-pitched tone of astonishment when he talks about his successor, almost as if he still cannot believe that the Executive Mansion he occupied for eight years is now the home of President Trump."

Trump has stuck to the friendly contours of Trump country, mostly traveling to "counties that are whiter, less educated and have lower incomes than the rest of the United States, according to Census Bureau data," per AP's Josh Boak:

  • "[H]e’s primarily been jet-setting to smaller places such as Elko, Nevada (population 20,078). Or, Mosinee, Wisconsin (population 4,023). Or, Belgrade, Montana (population 7,874)."
  • "Since March, Trump has crisscrossed the country like a salesman with a set territory. The majority of his trips have been to just nine states. They are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Indiana, West Virginia and Nevada. Trump won eight of those states in 2016, but not Nevada."

And then there's President Clinton. "No One Wants to Campaign With Bill Clinton Anymore," the N.Y. Times' Lisa Lerer writes under a nostalgic Little Rock dateline:

  • "There are no plans for him ... to appear publicly with any Democrat running in the midterm elections."
  • "Younger and more liberal voters find little appeal in Mr. Clinton’s reputation for ideological centrism on issues like financial regulation and crime."

Be smart: Guess who's enjoying the show. Rhymes with George W. Bush.

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