CLAY: Where we find ourselves, unfortunately, as we enter July, we have just posted the worst six months of the S&P 500, the stock market, since 1970. A 52-year worst story for Joe Biden and even worse than the 8.6% inflation, which is at 40-year high. Everything that that Joe Biden touches is falling apart quite simply, and Biden adviser Brian Deese, well, he said Americans just need to be reminded of how well things are actually going. Listen to this argument that doesn’t really register at all.
CLAY: Uh, yeah. I’m not feeling it — and also, as we break this down, David Axelrod who obviously was instrumental in Obama’s election, he said — and he knows Joe Biden well since obviously he worked alongside Biden as well the then vice president — there’s the sense — and there’s this definite sense that Biden’s not in control of what’s going on in the country. You think when David Axelrod is saying it, Buck, it’s more and more evidence that they’re trying to push Joe Biden out as the top of the ticket in 2024. But listen to Axelrod.
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CLAY: So here’s the thing, Buck. We’re all excited to celebrate July 4th. I was thinking about this yesterday as I was sort of thinking about past July 4ths. Can you remember a time when America has felt weaker to you than it does right now? Not that we’re anti-America, certainly, but just as a country, can you remember a time in your life where it’s July 4th and you feel like we’re in a weaker position than we are right now? ‘Cause, frankly, I can’t.
BUCK: Objectively, we’re in a rough spot right now, but I like to think long term — and I don’t mean long term like the next 50 years, I am not long term the next couple years — things are gonna turn around. I said at the start of the show, I had believed there was a real possibility that just by existing, the Biden administration regime would be lifted up by the normal recovery from the pandemic.
CLAY: That’s what we all expected, I think.
BUCK: Yeah. Lockdowns, none of that ever needed to happen. None of that was a good idea. That was all… The lockdowns, the destruction of productivity, the destruction of businesses, and the spending out of thin air of trillions of dollars to prop all the system up while that he was going on, those were terrible decisions that did not need to be the way they were, did not need to happen that way. But I thought, “Okay. Just by not doing that again, there’ll be a big surge,” and I think there was a little bit of that last year around this time, and that’s why Biden… Remember you read the tweet, “Oh, your burgers are cheaper!”
CLAY: Yeah, 16 cents or whatever it was.
BUCK: By 16 cents. Don’t spend it all in one place, peasants. That was the idea. But now what we see is, well, actually Biden — the $1.9 trillion of even more spending they did with the American Rescue Plan — and all of the policy decisions made around energy and around the border and around everything has resulted in the situation we’re in right now, which is the country heading in the wrong direction. Everybody sees it, everyone feels it, everyone knows it. But I do think that it’s gonna take a while, but the course correction…
So to answer your question, yes, we’re in a rough spot right now, but I think the course correction is coming. The ocean liner may be heading toward the shore and the rocks right now in a bad way. This election cycle coming up is gonna be turning it slowly back toward open ocean where everybody can be enjoying their drinks with umbrellas in them and hanging out in the sunshine. It’s gonna take a little time, but I do think we’ll be getting there.
CLAY: Every president, basically, is getting judged based on the choices that he makes. And there are a lot of tough choices, right. A lot of them you know. You’ve been to the White House to advise presidents when you were in the CIA to brief them. If they get to the president’s desk, they are by their nature a difficult decision to make. It feels like every single time that Biden has had to make a decision, he’s made the wrong one, and as we sit here on July 4th weekend and get ready, I’m trying to think.
In 18 months, Buck, can you name one thing that Joe Biden has gotten right? We talked yesterday. I said Biden’s the first president that I can ever remember where if he had just gotten into office and done nothing — made no attempt to fix things with covid in terms of the rescue bill and everything else, if he hadn’t passed a single bill — I think the country would be better off. And I can’t ever remember a president that you could say that about before. I can’t think of anything that he’s passed that’s made things better. Do you have the sense…? Can you even name something that he’s gotten right?
BUCK: No. What I was gonna say is even with previous administrations, sometimes I remember I got a little pushback on this one, but when they were selling… Let’s go back to last Democrat we had, right, Barack Obama. When they were selling us on Obamacare — and this is right around when I left the CIA and got involved in media — I remember that one of the problems we ran into was, yeah, it was Obamacare and there was a lot of talking points around it, but they had two things, really one that were very smart in their selling of that program that they could always point to.
Parity for mental health was one — meaning so physical health, mental health coverage — but the really big one, as we all remember… I’m actually literally blanking on it at this time. They were gonna… Oh, well, there was the parents’ insurance ’til you’re 26. No preexisting conditions. That’s what I was trying to think of. And that was all you heard about, “No preexisting conditions!” Now, actual rejections for true preexisting conditions were a very small part of the overall health care pool.
But people did have an emotional response to it. They do feel like, “What’s going on?” So my point being they at least had that thing to sell with the policy that resonated with enough people that they were able to ram it through without a single Republican vote. Biden doesn’t even have that. They don’t even have the talking point other than to say that… What is their go-to? “We created eight million jobs!” No one thinks he created eight million jobs.
CLAY: We’re still not back to the same number of jobs that we had in this country in March of 2020 when we made the disastrous decision to shut down. You can point to Barack Obama killed Osama Bin Laden. By the way —
BUCK: Not by the midterms, but not at this point, if I remember correctly.
CLAY: Oh, yeah, yeah. But I’m just saying, in terms of his tenure — and everybody forgets that Joe Biden opposed that.
BUCK: Oh, no!
CLAY: Biden opposed the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
BUCK: Yeah, yeah. No, no. May 2nd of 2011. So it was after the midterms wipeout, and you remember, people said at the time, including, I believe, some people who were on that — some members of the SEAL team that were on that — raid thought it’s gonna be a big help for Barack Obama, and it was —
BUCK: — a big help for Barack Obama because other than that one incident, instance, the foreign policy of Democrats under the Obama administration was atrocious. Atrocious.
CLAY: And Joe Biden didn’t agree with the decision, which goes to the judgment even when he had the ability to make choices. I can’t even think… We can open up phone lines and ask this. I can’t even think, Buck, of one thing that you could point to and say, “Biden made the right call on this.”
BUCK: Yeah. I never want our people, our extended family of everyone who listens to this show to ever be in a situation where their smarmy neighbor who’s walking around with the N95 on still with a Biden-Harris 2024 T-shirt on —
CLAY: If they even made those yet.
BUCK: — drinking out of a “Climate Change Is an Existential Threat” tea koozie. I never want them to be in a situation where they’re hit with some argument that they go, “Wait. Why haven’t…?” If they had a compelling argument — ’cause that’s why I brought up the Obama talking point about preexisting conditions, because there was this huge bill with thousands of pages, but that was how they rammed it all through and that was how they pushed it and they had this one thing that was really compelling. A lot of people were like, “Oh, gosh, preexisting conditions. I can kind of understand that.” Never mind all the socialism and everything else that was involved in it. Biden doesn’t even have that right now. The eight million jobs line just eight gonna work.
CLAY: I really can’t even think of what Joe Biden would say if he were able to be an advocate for what he’s done.
BUCK: “I’m not Trump” is really what it comes down to,” and anyone can handle the, “Oh, yeah, it was so bad when we had more peace, stability, economic prosperity and general sanity in the operations of the federal government.” I don’t know. I think I miss it. I think everyone else knows. They miss it too.
CLAY: Well, that’s why Trump, as we said, is now up 5 points on Joe Biden. He’s never had a five-point lead, to my knowledge, in a national poll in his entire presidential tenure. Like, the time he’s run for president. Can you think of a time when he would have a 5-point lead in a national poll?
CLAY: I’ve never seen it.
BUCK: He’s in the strongest position. Trump, the perception of Trump nationally versus Biden has gotta be in its strongest position since the election without question. Probably ever, actually, when you think about it. Was he ever up five points?
CLAY: No, that’s what I’m saying.
CLAY: I don’t think against Hillary, certainly not against Biden because by the time Biden got the nomination, covid has happened, everything was kind of in chaos. But even from the time he came down the escalator in 2016 or 2015 to begin his presidential campaign, I don’t believe he’s ever had a 5-point lead in a national poll. I don’t think it’s ever occurred.
BUCK: I think you’re right.
CLAY: The Hill has a poll up: 71% of Americans, according to their poll, don’t want Joe Biden to run for reelection — 71%. Now, some of you are saying, “How in the world are there 29% that want him to run.” But I was looking at this. We’ve never seen a situation like this with an incumbent president where 71% of the American public… Joe Biden said he was gonna unite America again.
What he’s united us all in is that he’s an awful president. Of the people that don’t want him to run, 45% said simply he shouldn’t run because he’s a bad president, which… That’s true. But a third of them said he’s just too old, and a quarter said it’s just time for change. Increasingly, Buck, I don’t see any way that Biden’s gonna be able to run in ’24. I think he’s gonna have to announce in March or April of next year that he’s out, that he’s done.
BUCK: One component of a Biden presidency that I don’t think the Democrats were prepared for is that he’s almost singular as a politician in that he really inspires no personal brand allegiance.
BUCK: Obama had that at a whole other level for Democrats, right? People — voting for Obama, if you’re a Democrat, was a symbol of how cool and smart and great you were, right? Among Democrats.
BUCK: No great… I was like, yeah, Obama support, and even with Hillary there were people — lots of people — who Hillary represents a postmodernist, feminist, ultimate success story.
CLAY: She’s breaking the glass ceiling.
BUCK: And so there are a lot of Democrat wine moms and cat ladies who are really excited about it. The prospect of voting for Hillary would have made them feel a certain way.
BUCK: A vote against Biden was, in a way, that… I don’t even know if you could find anything like this for decades, looking back in the past. A vote for Biden was a vote against Trump.
CLAY: That’s it.
BUCK: And there’s nobody who sits around saying, “Hey, you know who I voted for? Joe Biden,” and expects all the ladies to swoon over that one. No one cares right?
BUCK: You voted for Biden ’cause you hated Trump.
CLAY: There are no Biden T-shirts or bumper stickers, is an easy way to think about it.
CLAY: No one is out there… Whether you love or hated Trump, the Trump paraphernalia and apparel was everywhere. I don’t remember the last time that I saw someone wearing a Joe Biden T-shirt or even having a Joe Biden bumper sticker.
BUCK: I do think part of the miscalculation, too, was I believe in the greenrooms of CNN and the editorial pages of the New York Times there was a belief that Kamala would add some of that —
CLAY: She was gonna be a rock star.
BUCK: — personal rock star component to the overall ticket, and so that wa sit. If they had paid attention to Kamala Harris, I don’t think any… But it didn’t matter. They figured, “Oh, it checked the right boxes.”
BUCK: Exactly. She’s younger and she’s cool and whatever. All that stuff. They don’t have that with Biden at all. So it really now is… You know when they do those generic polls? Biden was Generic Democrat Candidate.
CLAY: That’s right.
BUCK: It was just Vote B. That’s what Joe Biden was, and now that the results are in about how that’s gone for them, they probably want to replace him at the top of the ticket.
CLAY: Well, my concern — and this is my biggest concern about a Trump ’24 candidacy — is the election should be a referendum on the incumbent. Joe Biden has done an awful job. Can Trump let an election not be about him? Can he make case that Biden was awful or does Biden or whoever’s running get to make the case of, “I’m not Trump”? That’s my biggest concern about 2024, because there are people who…
This doesn’t shock anybody. There are people out there who do not like Donald Trump and will not vote for him, and it will not matter who the Democrats put forward. But the case in ’24 is not about Trump. It’s about how awful the Democrats have done. Can that be the story? Will Trump let it be the story? That’s my biggest concern.
BUCK: I think we gotta get him on and talk to him about this too.
BUCK: We’ll reach out to the big guy.
CLAY: We need to get him on again soon that’s my biggest concern about ’24. Biden should lose epically, should not be remotely close. But if the election doesn’t become a referendum on Biden and turns into a referendum on Trump — or a referendum on the 2020 election — it ends up tight.
BUCK: The Democrats think they can win with that playbook. They think they can.
CLAY: Yes. That’s the only way.
BUCK: The only reason they haven’t pushed Biden out effectively in their own minds is that they’re waiting to see. They think the only way Biden could actually get a second term is if Trump runs against him. Is that true or not, obviously, is a huge question.