U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a "Thank You USA" tour rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S. December 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File photo

After condemning ‘permanent campaign,’ Team Trump gears up for 2020

A month ago, when Donald Trump’s transition team was still rejecting U.S. intelligence about Russia helping get the Republican elected, Kellyanne Conway said the only people concerned about the scandal are those “who want this to be the permanent campaign.”

Yeah, about that.
President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t yet been sworn into office, but he’s already looking ahead to 2020. Trump’s team announced Thursday that he’ll be keeping alive his presidential campaign committee, Donald J. Trump for President Inc.

Trump’s former deputy campaign manager, Michael Glassner, will lead the group, along with Arizona deputy treasurer Sean Dollman and John Pence. The latter is Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s nephew.

The group will focus on fundraising and building data for Trump’s possible re-election in 2020 and will coordinate closely with the Republican National Committee.
This Associated Press report came a day after Politico reported that Trump will keep his campaign headquarters open indefinitely – a move intended to position him “to begin running for reelection in 2020” – with a staff of “around 10 people.”

In other words, a week before Trump is even inaugurated, he’s already assigned a campaign team for an election that’s 45 months away. There is no modern precedent for anything like this: every recent president folded up the campaign tent after winning a first term.

Team Trump, however, the one that’s offended by the prospect of “the permanent campaign,” has other ideas.

At the same time, of course, Trump isn’t quite done focusing on the election that’s already done. Just this morning, a week out from his Inauguration Day, the president-elect felt compelled to lash out at Hillary Clinton – apropos of nothing – insisting that his former rival shouldn’t have been “allowed” to run against him because she’s “guilty as hell.”

Guilty of what? Trump doesn’t appear to know or care. He just keeps repeating campaign talking points anyway, as if it were a rhetorical spasm.

Indeed, note that two days ago, at his first press conference since the summer, the president-elect continued to be preoccupied with John Podesta, a Democratic primary debate, Clinton’s emails, and Lindsey Graham’s campaign poll numbers from late 2015.

If Trump were half as interested in governing as he is with campaigning, his looming presidency might seem less frightening.