'The former guy': Biden and his aides work to ignore Trump — but it won't be easy

www.washingtonpost.com
7 min read
fairly difficult
The new administration faces not only a former president eager to sow discord, but also followers of Trumpism who still don't accept the legitimacy of Biden's election victory.
But the reality may prove more difficult. With the historic second impeachment of Trump recently concluded, Biden and his team now face the challenge of continuing to minimize not just Trump but also Trumpism — an overarching ethos that includes a former president eager to sow discord, an alternate reality of dangerous misinformation, and an abiding belief in grievance politics and incivility.

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Speaking at a CNN town hall in Milwaukee last week, Biden emphasized his eagerness to move past his predecessor, calling him "the former guy" and lamenting: "I'm tired of talking about Donald Trump."

Yet Biden kept talking about the very guy he said he wants to ignore.

"For four years, all that's been in the news is Trump," Biden continued. "The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people. I'm tired of talking about Trump."

Unlike other modern presidents, Biden still faces a predecessor challenging the very legitimacy of his election, and one who could emerge from the shadows to run against him in 2024. Although there was a drop in approval for Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a Washington Post-ABC News poll in January found that 79 percent of Republicans still approved of his job as president — and that 60 percent of Republicans said GOP leaders should follow Trump's leadership.

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The same poll also found that 65 percent of Republicans thought there was "solid evidence" for Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud. And a January NBC News poll similarly found that Trump's baseless claims that the election was stolen have taken hold within his party, with 74 percent of Republican voters saying Biden did not win the election legitimately, along with 30 percent of independents and 3 percent of Democrats.

This past week, Trump began reappearing in public, issuing a scathing denunciation of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who, after voting to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial, said the…
Ashley Parker, Matt Viser
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