President Donald Trump’s speech in Pennsylvania on Thursday convinced MSNBC host Chris Matthews that Trump will be extremely tough to beat in 2020 even if Democrats take back Congress in 2018.
Matthews said on his Hardball show this week that though Democrats are giddy about potentially sweeping away Republican incumbents in the fall, a good year in 2018 does not mean Democrats can defeat the charismatic Trump if he remains on message about the booming economy and as disciplined as he was on Thursday.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released on Friday found that satisfaction with the economy is at a 17-year high, and “those feeling good about the state of the nation’s economy now include 86 percent of Republicans, 65 percent of independents and even a majority — 57 percent — of Democrats.” In addition, “39 percent of all Americans say they’re ready for an economic expansion for themselves and their families, the highest share since 2005.”
Matthews said he “watched every minute” of Trump’s speech this week, calling it a “barn burner” in which Trump “hit all the high notes—never a flat one.” He said Trump focused on minority employment numbers, did not get sidetracked and bigfoot his own message, and delivered an “uplifting, gung-ho” speech “with all the flags flying.”
He said it was tough for him right now to “think of a Democratic rival who can match the performance” and added that Trump’s challenger will have to “sell this country while making a case for himself or herself” and making people feel like they are empowered.
“My point is that you can’t beat someone with no one,” Matthews said, conceding that though Trump may not know how to govern, he is a formidable campaigner.
Matthews said defeating Trump will take a political combatant who can “take the blows and give them right back,” “speak with hope and power,” “be bigger than Trump,” and not come across as a schemer who is intent on undermining Trump.
The Hardball host’s inability to identify the Democrat who can best take on Trump may be why some Democrats have been talking up a potential Oprah Winfrey candidacy. At least three national polls have found that a majority of Americans do not want Winfrey to run for president. But Winfrey performs best in the polls in a one-on-one hypothetical matchup against Trump, especially with white voters, even though other potential candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden have higher favorability ratings than Winfrey among Democrats.