Even before poll numbers showed President Joe Biden trailing former president and current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump in key battleground states, pundits on the left and right have been floating possible scenarios in which Democrats run someone other than the incumbent in 2024.
Vice President Kamala Harris, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have all been mentioned as possibilities, but the consensus candidate that everyone seems to agree on is former First Lady Michelle Obama. The question, however, is: Would she run?
On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), author of Unwoke, to discuss the likelihood of Obama securing the nomination next fall.
A Changing of the Guard
Last month in episode 640, Megyn and Chris Stirewalt war-gamed different scenarios in which the Democrat and Republican presidential tickets in 2024 did not feature Biden or Trump.
Stirewalt proposed a situation in which Biden chooses to exit the race after securing the nomination at the Democratic National Convention in August and a small group of party insiders tap the former first lady to replace him. While Stirewalt admitted it was a longshot, he said it was a way for Obama to avoid a grueling primary and campaign.
Sen. Cruz also believes it’s a possibility – especially in the wake of former Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod floating the idea of Biden stepping aside on X (formerly known as Twitter) over the weekend. “On my Verdict podcast… I said the chances are rising dramatically that the Democrats at their convention next summer will dump Joe Biden and parachute in Michelle Obama as the nominee,” he shared. “I don’t want to see that happen, but… I think Axelrod has just increased the chances of that significantly.”
Axelrod’s post came in response to new polling from The New York Times and Siena College that found Biden trailing Trump in five of six battleground states, while nearly two thirds said Biden does not have the “mental sharpness to be an effective president.”
Axelrod admitted it’s “very late to change horses” but Biden’s poll numbers should “send tremors of doubt” through the party. “If [Biden] continues to run, he will be the nominee of the Democratic Party,” he wrote. “What he needs to decide is whether that is wise; whether it’s in HIS best interest or the country’s?”
Would Michelle Obama Run?
One of many concerning elements of the Times/Siena poll is how much support Biden is losing from traditionally reliable factions of the Democrat voting base, including voters under 30, Hispanics, women, and Blacks. “This is a Joe Biden problem – that’s at least how the left is looking at it based on this poll,” Megyn noted. “Michelle Obama is certainly more popular than Kamala Harris and certainly with those groups that I just was ticking off, so she could be a solution.”
A potential snag? Obama has explicitly said in the past that she has no interest in running for office. “You and I both know she hates politics,” Megyn said. “I mean, the odds of Michelle Obama, at this point in her career, wanting to get in and save the country from Donald Trump – which so far she’s shown no desire to do – [seem] pretty slim.”
Sen. Cruz said he “prays” Megyn is right, but entering the race in the lead up to the election next fall is different than undertaking a traditional campaign. “I don’t think she has any desire to spend two years campaigning for president, but it’s a different proposition,” he explained. “If you’re looking at a convention next summer and the Democrats are going to hand you the nomination, you’ve got just a couple of months of campaigning, and then the general election, and suddenly you wake up and your president… There are very few people, I think, that would say no to that.”
Democrats recognize that, in Sen. Cruz’s view, Harris is a “deeply flawed” candidate and Newsom’s race makes him a non-starter. That is why believes Obama is the “greatest threat” to the GOP. “Michelle Obama has such a powerful appeal because she’s the one Democrat who could push Kamala Harris aside and not cause a civil war within the Democrat Party,” he said. “She also has a degree of teflon where she’s got very high [approval ratings] and largely stayed out of partisan fights as first lady.”
But that doesn’t mean Obama would govern as a moderate. “I think she’s to the left of [former President Barack] Obama and she’s to the left of Biden, but she’s got much more of a shield,” Sen. Cruz concluded. “If I were a Democrat strategist, I’d be all over this approach, if she’s willing to do it – and I guarantee you there are hundreds of top Democrats having this conversation today as they’re looking at these poll numbers.”
You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Sen. Cruz by tuning in to episode 663 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.