OPINION: Opposing 2020 Republican candidates noticeably missing from media narrative


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President Donald Trump is dominating the media’s attention for the Republican primary.

As I tuned in last Tuesday night into the Democratic debate, I saw 12 different faces on the stage; this means 12 different voices and 12 different arguments to pay attention to. These 12 represent the largest number of candidates to ever appear in a primary debate.  

With the amount of faces on the Democratic stage, I started to feel overwhelmed and thought, “Why haven’t I seen or heard of any Republican primary debates?”

During the 2015 Republican debate, there were 11 candidates participating, holding the previous record for the greatest number of candidates on stage. Not saying that I’ve cared for the Republican debates and candidates in the past, but I realized that coverage of the 2020 Republican primaries is nearly nonexistent. 

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, former South Carolina congressman Mark Sanford and former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh are all competing for the Republican nomination, but all are struggling to gain traction with the media.  

Weld was the first to announce his campaign against Trump, and it seems to me since then he has only used his platform to criticize Trump rather than focus on his own political objectives at all. 

Sanford and Walsh, when compared to Trump and Weld, are using their platform to promote issues that they plan on battling like debt, spending, and corruption in politics. 

Specifically, Walsh is tackling Trump in his campaign by calling him a “would-be dictator” and criticized the rest of the Republican party for becoming a “cult.”

By observing the minuscule media attention that the three competing candidates are receiving, each platform gives the impression that the object of the campaign is to dismantle Trump to gain support from the rest of the Republican party. 

Sanford, while focusing his platform on debt and spending, has openly criticized Trump for turning away from traditional conservative beliefs.

  The media has not centered its attention around other Republican candidates because Trump has a tightening grip on both the Republican primaries and party. 

According to Fortune, five states have canceled their Republican primaries so far in order to throw their support fully behind President Trump. 

The cancellation of these primaries makes me wonder if Trump’s competitors ever had the chance to gain traction and media coverage in the first place. 

By states canceling these primaries, is this a way of rigging the election in Trump’s favor? 

“Presidents are rarely [seriously] challenged for their renomination,” said Wayne Steger, a political science professor at DePaul.  “The two conditions that must exist for that to happen are a division within the political party and a president who is unpopular with the people of one of those factions. Trump has a couple of nomination rivals, but neither is a serious challenger.” 

Running against an incumbent is a challenge in any election, especially one as media dominant as Trump.

“Because it’s such an uphill battle for any candidate to challenge a sitting president in their own party, I feel the lack of coverage represents the small chance those candidates have to win the party,” said junior Drew Haynie.

Although the incumbent president rarely gets challenged by members of their party, I’m surprised to see that the Republican party itself is in support of Trump, given his shaky approval ratings. 

“It is a little bit surprising because Trump is so unpopular, his approval rating is at [about] 41 percent last time I checked,” said Brandon Tejeras, president of the DePaul Democrats. “He’s really just focusing on his base and not really expanding his electoral prospects, so I’m a little surprised there’s not as many people coming out and saying “‘we need to be better Republicans and better candidates if we want to keep this presidency in Republican hands.’” 

Tejeras explained it may be difficult for the party to not support Trump’s campaign. 

“The Republican party is in a really weird bind.” he said. “On the one hand they need to stand with their president, because if they don’t they’re not going to win their own re-elections with some of the House members and some of the Senate members. They can’t really come out and endorse other candidates because they could lose their elections next time around.” 

 When states cancel their primaries, they don’t give the rest of the Republican party a fair chance of coverage and traction.

Although Trump is backed and supported by the Republican party, I wonder if the media will give Weld, Walsh, and Sanford more coverage of their political platforms, aside from the fact they are each targeting Trump.