Why Trump’s Best 2024 Strategy May Be to Take a Page from Biden’s 2020 Playbook

AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

As Megyn predicted, there was a stark contrast on display between the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees for president last week.

While former President Donald Trump attended the wake of murdered New York City police officer Jonathan Diller on Long Island on Thursday, President Joe Biden sat for a celebrity interview and attended a star-studded fundraiser alongside Barack Obama and Bill Clinton in Manhattan. 

That sobering split screen got Megyn thinking about the strategy of this general election cycle. And on Monday’s show, she was joined by Ben Shapiro, host of The Daily Wire’s The Divided States of Biden, to discuss why Trump may be best served by allowing Biden to be in the spotlight.

Trump vs. Biden

When Biden took office in January 2021, he did so under the guise of being a unifying president who led with empathy and would help ease the partisan divide. His actions over the last three-plus years, however, have painted a very different picture. 

As Megyn explained, the man who skipped Officer Diller’s visitation is “the same guy who checked his watch when the bodies came back to Dover Air Force Base after the Abbey Gate attack in Afghanistan,” “the same guy who let his dogs bite two dozen Secret Service agents with really serious wounds and didn’t give a sh-t, and “the same guy who enabled his drug-addled son to go do business for him so he could line his own pockets after his vice presidency and, possibly, during.”

Shapiro said those situations illustrate one of the reasons Biden has seen his approval rating fall so precipitously. “The big lie about Joe Biden is that he is a deeply empathetic person, and I think that’s actually fallen away pretty dramatically for the American public,” he explained. “He was a pretty popular guy when he first took office, and then it quickly became apparent that this is a person who really cares much more about himself than pretty much anyone else.”

While there may have once been a notion that Biden “is an empathetic elderly gentleman,” Shapiro believes the illusion is gone. “I don’t think a huge number of Americans buy that outside of the Democratic base,” he said. “That’s a real problem for him because if the race was supposed to be in 2020 between ‘nice old man Joe Biden’ and ‘crazy nut job Donald Trump who is mean and only cares about himself,’ that’s not the case in 2024.”

The 2024 Referendum

In Shapiro’s view, the tables have turned this election cycle. “It’s whatever you think of Trump versus Joe Biden, a not particularly empathetic, deeply angry, somewhat addled old man who has been really bad on policy,” he said. “That is not a good race for Joe Biden.”

Shapiro said he has come to believe that the outcome of a general election depends on one key factor that is increasingly in the GOP’s favor. “When it comes to presidential races, it really is about who the race is a referendum on,” he explained. “In 2016, it was actually Hillary [Clinton], not Trump. In 2020, it was Trump, not Biden. In 2024, it seems clear that this is going to be a referendum on Biden, not Trump.”

The Trump Strategy

For these reasons, Megyn does not believe Trump needs a flashy campaign to win. “I really think Trump just needs to stay out of the spotlight,” she said. “His numbers are starting to tighten a bit… so don’t you think the smartest move for Trump is to just not say too much?”

While Trump’s outspokenness rallies his base, Megyn believes it alienates a key voting demographic. “The people who can’t stand Trump are suburban women,” she noted. “They can’t stand him and being reminded of his bombast… and his willingness to pick fights… totally alienates the group he really needs to get out and vote for him.”

Shapiro said a more demure Trump could actually help keep Democrats home, which would also help him at the polls. “What he really needs to do is get a bunch of Democrats not to vote… and the only way to do that is to stay out of the limelight,” he explained. “There is a group of people who will not vote for Joe Biden because… they don’t like him very much, but they might show up to vote if this turns into a referendum on Trump.” 

That means the best option for Trump may be to borrow a page from his opponent’s playbook. “Ironically, what Trump needs to do is run Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign,” Shapiro said. “He needs to go to a basement and do nothing for like seven months and hope he’s the president again.”

As Megyn noted, Trump’s criminal trials will keep in the news regardless. “He doesn’t actually have to fan it because the media will do their part and the right-wing media will cover the other side,” she said. “Trump doesn’t have to put himself in the middle of each and every one of those news stories.”

Even so, she is not sure that style of campaigning – or lack thereof – suits the former president. “And yet,” she concluded, “that doesn’t sound like President Trump to be down to the basement.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Shapiro by tuning in to episode 754 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.