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The GW Hatchet

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Political experts, journalists discuss the 2020 presidential election

Camille Drury | Photographer
Political experts on a School of Media and Public Affairs panel discussed how impeachment preceding are affecting the 2020 presidential race.

A panel of political experts discussed possible outcomes in the upcoming 2020 presidential election at the Jack Morton Auditorium Tuesday.

The panelists discussed the House of Representatives’ impeachment inquiry into the president and who may win the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination contest. The event was hosted by the School of Media and Public Affairs in conjunction with GW College Democrats and GW College Republicans.

Dana Bash, an SMPA alumna and CNN political correspondent, said there is likely not enough political support for impeachment because the actions Trump has taken do not seem that egregious to the public.

“[Democrats] would bring public opinion along as they would like,” Bash said. “In large part, the impeachment inquiry has not happened yet because the Republicans have been pretty good at defining the process, but we will see how it goes.”

The House of Representatives voted last week to approve a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry into Trump for allegedly withholding aid from the Ukrainian government in exchange for investigating Joe Biden’s family.

Bash said diligent media fact-checking of the president, a requirement during the process of reporting on impeachment, creates the impression among Trump’s followers that journalists detest the president.

“Because we are all pro-truth and pro-fact, all of those instances make it easy for the president and his supporters to make us anti-Trump – and it’s not anti-Trump,” she said. “It’s pro-fact and that is a very important distinction.”

NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd said he predicts Trump will lose “by a lot” in the upcoming election because the path to winning the Electoral College with only 46 percent of the popular vote – Trump’s share in the 2016 presidential election – is extremely narrow.

“The likelihood of making 46 a winning number again is very, very slim,” Todd said. “That’s hard to do this twice – you’ve won the lottery, you’ve got to win the lottery twice.”

Steve Scully, an SMPA Terker Distinguished Fellow and senior executive producer for C-SPAN, said he believes Trump would win reelection if the vote was held today because of his appeal to rural voters.

“They need to come up with an agenda that goes after Trump on the issues, not on the personality,” Scully said of Democrats. “If you attack Donald Trump because of who he is, we already know that it doesn’t make a difference. They are worried about jobs, healthcare, and the economy.”

SMPA Terker Distinguished Fellow Karen Finney, who previously worked as a senior adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said media organizations devote more time to the turmoil surrounding Trump instead of focusing on policy debates.

“How many times on CNN does a Republican contributor go ‘Well I sure wish we were talking about the economy, but instead we are tweeting about the latest grievance?'” Finney said.

Kevin Madden, a CNN political commentator and former spokesman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, said Trump may not win the presidency if it was held today because the president is “running against himself” right now. But he said once Trump has a Democratic candidate to attack, his odds of winning will improve.

“That’s why right now, if the election was today, he would be losing,” Madden said. “He is not going to run against himself. He’s going to have a candidate that he is going to drive relentless contest against every single day.”

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