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OPINION: Idaho Democrats make the case for Biden

by CHUCK MALLOY/Guest Opinion
| May 5, 2023 1:00 AM

So our 80-year-old president, Joe Biden, is seeking a second term. No big surprise there. And it doesn’t take much of a political prophet to predict that Biden will not carry Idaho’s electoral votes — regardless of who the Republicans come up with as their nominee.

The president won’t have help from the sidelines in the Gem State, at least on the Republican side. Sen. Mike Crapo talks plenty about Biden’s poor fiscal policies, Sen. Jim Risch hits the president for his failed foreign policies and Congressman Russ Fulcher mention’s Biden’s reduced mental capacity. Gov. Brad Little, Attorney General Raul Labrador and Congressman Mike Simpson also will take well-timed swings at the president.

All of the above, at least in spirit, will be wearing MAGA hats if the 2024 election is a Biden-Trump rematch — a scenario that people are not excited to see. Polls show that about 70 percent of Americans don’t want Biden to run again and some 60 percent don’t want Trump on the campaign trail. Yet it’s these two old men, one who is just north of 80 and the other who is a few years younger, who have the most clear path to the nominations. You’d think that the two major parties could do better.

If ever there was a presidential-election year that was prime for a strong independent candidate, such as Liz Cheney, this is it. Cheney has said she will do “anything” to keep Trump out of the White House, and a run for the presidency might be the ticket. And who knows, she might win if voters are disgusted enough by the top of the tickets.

Rep. Lauren Necochea, who chairs the state Democratic Party, also wants to keep Trump out of the Oval Office. But she prefers the old-fashioned route — with Biden scoring a resounding victory. She sees good reasons for backing the president.

“President Biden has a proven track record in delivering smart policies benefiting our state, like the bipartisan infrastructure act and the CHIPS act passed despite opposition from Idaho’s Republican delegation — underscoring the importance of having representation in Washington, looking out for our economic future,” she said.

Former Idaho Congressman Larry LaRocco, who co-chaired Biden’s White House run in 2020, says Biden has an “enviable record of achievement” as far as creating jobs and building the infrastructure. “In 2020, America sensed that Biden could lead us through a pandemic and restore our economy for working Americans.”

Biden has delivered on his campaign pledges, LaRocco says. “His policies are geared toward middle America and those left behind by prior policies that favored the Uber-wealthy and well connected.”

Necochea says Biden is the strongest candidate available, given his record for defeating Trump. “As congressional Republicans continue to push for cuts to Social Security, veterans’ health care and other benefits that Americans earned, it is even more imperative that Democrats take the White House.”

If Trump is “the guy” on the GOP ticket, then LaRocco is ready.

“Joe Biden stands up for our fragile democracy attacked by Trump’s lies, distortions and conspiracy theories,” says LaRocco. “The Big Lie political base propelling Trump to the GOP nomination will stand in stark contrast to the honest approach by Biden’s White House.”

Of course … there’s the “age thing.” Biden is 80 and will be 82 by the next inauguration day. He’d by 86 if he finishes a second term. Trump is just four years younger, with more than a few detractors suggesting that he’s “too old,” or mentally incapable, to be president. LaRocco, for one, is not dwelling on age.

“I am proud to stand with President Biden. Preserving our freedoms from the authoritarianism of Trump will overshadow concerns of age,” LaRocco says.

The comments from Necochea and LaRocco likely will not turn Idaho into a “blue” state in next year’s presidential election, but they offer a fair glimpse of what Democrats will be saying nationally.

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Chuck Malloy is a longtime Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at ctmalloy@outlook.com.