Breaking precedent, President Trump changes the way political opponents engage with his policies.
In a brilliantly strategic move, President Donald Trump declared his intention to run for reelection in 2020, five hours after being sworn into office. Trump 2020 is already underway.
Getting Paperwork in Order
In a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on January 20, 2017, President Trump signaled his intention to run for reelection in the 2020 election cycle.
According to the Washington Post:
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“Because Trump’s campaign committee has been steadily raising money online since the election, Trump easily reached the $5,000 threshold that required filing an official statement of candidacy.”
Campaign Slogan Makeovers
In addition, IP Watchdog reports that two days before he took office, President Trump registered two 2020 campaign trademarks:
On Wednesday, January 18th, a trademark attorney representing Trump filed U.S. Trademark Serial No. 87305551 and U.S. Trademark Serial No. 83705582. These marks seek to register the standard character mark “KEEP AMERICA GREAT” and “KEEP AMERICA GREAT!” in seven trademark classes. Trump is seeking to protect the use of that mark on bumper stickers, political pamphlets, clothing, campaign buttons, political websites, political fundraising, political blogs, and online social media services.
President Trump is now, in effect, a candidate for 2020 due to his FEC filing.
The New Normal?
This is not normal. According to IP Watchdog:
“Obama filed for 2012 reelection in April 2011. Incumbents [declaring their candidacy] before midterms is unheard of.”
But since when has Donald Trump ever conducted business as usual? The populist movement that President Trump ignited was grounded in the fact that he was a political outsider, and would thus operate in stark contrast to career politicians in Washington, D.C. Why should his reelection campaign break from the unpredictable way Trump has comported himself so far?
Implications for Candidate Trump
What does this mean? First, according to AZ Family, it means that 501c3 (non-profit) organizations cannot work or speak negatively about President, who would of course be “candidate” Trump. If they do, it is considered opposition to a candidate, and grounds for losing the group’s tax exempt status.
This makes nonprofits’ political strategy for the next few years dicey to say the least. If they want to defeat Trump’s policies, they need to figure out how to do it without “campaigning.” No more Planned Parenthood rallies claiming Trump is against women’s healthcare, when their real goal is abortion promotion. Legally, however, nonprofits working for Trump are limited in their “campaign” efforts as well. But remember, President Trump has the bully pulpit.
Second, his FEC filing means that Trump is afforded different protections as a candidate. Some critics are already complaining, AZ Family reports:
They are concerned “about Trump’s business entanglements” and wonder if “U.S. nationals could funnel cash to Trump through his campaign committee.”
Trump’s early filing also raises complications regarding rules for using official government resources while campaigning for office.
AZ Family stated that some have characterized Trump’s premature filing as an attempt to exploit the rules and give himself more ethical wiggle room. Sour grapes, as the critics are just upset because they didn’t understand the art of the deal?
Regardless, President Trump has made it clear that he is going nowhere. The move also shows that the billionaire business mogul knows how to put together his long-range plan.