America

Freddy Gray

Joe Biden’s legacy is one of failure

He resisted as they tried to force him away. He showed his defiance. Then, after a struggle, he gave in and was removed.  That could be a description of the near-assassination of Donald Trump last weekend. Or the words might equally apply to Joe Biden’s experience since his abysmal debate performance last month. There’s a curiously asymmetrical relationship between the two old men now. Whereas Donald Trump, 78, survived his brush with death, Joe Biden’s political career died on that debate stage in Atlanta, Georgia. He staggered on for almost a month but, as leading Democrats queued up to tell him to go, his position was untenable.  Now that Biden

Republicans shouldn’t underestimate Kamala Harris

Joe Biden has bowed to the inevitable in withdrawing from the presidential race and endorsing his Vice President, Kamala Harris. Only now has the presidential race become interesting as the 59-year-old Harris, who is more than likely to receive the Democratic nomination, prepares to face off against Donald Trump. Suddenly the Republican candidate has become the old codger while the probable Democratic one represents generational change. Trump, you could even say, has become yesterday’s news. This is why Republicans would be wise not to underestimate Harris, a former federal prosecutor and California senator whose early years as Vice President were marked, among other things, by public scrutiny of her staff

Michael Simmons

Does Kamala Harris poll better against Donald Trump?

Kamala Harris seems overwhelmingly likely to replace Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee, having been given the blessing of both Bill Clinton and Biden himself. But does she actually have a better chance of beating Donald Trump than Biden did?  The betting markets think it’s a done deal: the below shows that other possibilities (Gavin Newsom, Whitmer etc) are nothing more than wild outside bets. So let’s focus on Harris. Since the Trump-Biden debate last month, a handful of polls have shown that voters would be no more or less likely to vote Democrat if Harris replaced Biden as the presidential nominee. In all of these polls, Trump leads (albeit

Kate Andrews

Kate Andrews, Adam Frank, David Hempleman-Adams, Svitlana Morenets and Michael Beloff

40 min listen

On this week’s Spectator Out Loud: Kate Andrews argues vice-presidential nominee J.D. Vance is more MAGA than Trump (1:27); Adam Frank explains how super-earths could help us understand what life might look like on another planet (5:15); David Hempleman-Adams recounts his attempt to cross the Atlantic on a hydrogen ballon (14:31); from Ukraine, Svitlana Morenets reports on the battle to save Kharkiv (20:44); and, Michael Beloff takes us on a history of the Olympics (30:12).  Presented by Patrick Gibbons.  

Julie Burchill

Joe Biden and the truth about old age

Observing the tremulous travails of Joe Biden, I reflected that we’re in two minds about old age. On one hand we pay stiff-upper-lip-service to the stoicism of old people; on the other they’re a warning about what awaits us. (I say ‘us’ out of habit; I got used to always being the youngest person in the room having won my dream job when I was just 17, but I turned 65 this month so I’m officially old.) Perhaps because I so thoroughly got what I wanted, I’m not sad to see the back of youth Not wanting to see the gory details of what we can expect, we (understandably) stash

Brendan O’Neill

When did Trump supporters become fans of cancel culture?

A rock band’s tour cancelled after one of the band members made a tasteless joke. A working-class cashier sacked from her job at the behest of an online mob who were horrified by something she said on Facebook. A schoolteacher suspended after being dogpiled for a daft remark she made online. Has the left-wing digital mob been on the rampage again? Actually, no – this time it’s right-wingers who are furiously demanding the scalps of everyone who offends them. So this is what we have to look forward to if Trump ousts Biden? There has been a frenzy of cancellation in the wake of the attempted assassination of Donald Trump.

Freddy Gray

How much pressure is Biden under?

26 min listen

As more Democrats call for Joe Biden to pull out of the presidential race, Freddy Gray is joined by Damon Linker and Jacob Heilbrunn to discuss what could happen next. Who is influencing his decision and how transparent are top Democrats being with the public? They also discuss potential contenders to replace Biden, including Vice-President Kamala Harris; how well could they do against Trump? Produced by Patrick Gibbons and Natasha Feroze.

Freddy Gray

Joe Biden has caught covid at the worst possible time

Talk about timing. Joe Biden has caught covid, the White House has announced. The president, who was touring Las Vegas, ‘is experiencing mild symptoms,’ press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. ‘(Biden) will be returning to Delaware where he will self-isolate and will continue to carry out all of his duties fully during that time.’ Biden has been vaccinated and boosted against covid, Jean-Pierre added.  Will Donald Trump call Joe Biden to wish him well? In the 21 days since the now infamous debate with Donald Trump, Biden has kept a busy schedule. He has tried and largely failed to allay public concerns about his health. This latest news will not

Top Democrat Adam Schiff urges Joe Biden to quit

The blows keep coming. California congressman Adam Schiff, who was an impeachment manager during Donald Trump’s first Senate trial in 2020, is now targeting another president for destruction. Schiff has called upon Joe Biden to exit the presidential race, the twenty-third legislator to do so and definitely the most significant of the lot. Schiff, who is running for the Senate, was a protégé of former House speaker Nancy Pelosi. For several weeks, Pelosi, who knows that a continued Biden candidacy would likely lead to the downfall of the Democratic party this November, has been waging a quiet but determined campaign to persuade Biden to surrender. Not surprisingly, the Pelosi camp

Have the Republicans resolved their abortion dilemma?

The botched assassination attempt on Donald Trump could well generate a wave of sympathy that helps waft him into the White House in November. Another indirect result of those same events may contribute further to this effect. Until the Republican National Convention opened in Milwaukee this week, the GOP had a potentially awkward problem over its stance on abortion rights. Following the attempt on Trump’s life, this has now disappeared. The abandonment of the old hard-line position removes an intellectual difficulty for the Republicans Since the right-leaning Supreme Court a couple of years ago overturned Roe v Wade, suppressed the judge-made constitutional right to abortion that had existed since 1973 and

Katy Balls

Two-child benefit cap row – Starmer’s first big test?

13 min listen

Keir Starmer is coming under pressure to commit to scrapping the two-child benefit cap, introduced in 2017 by the Conservatives. Plaid Cymru, the Greens, Nigel Farage, the SNP, and now some Labour backbenchers are all calling for its removal. Can Starmer hold the line? Elsewhere: in Wales, First Minister Vaughan Gething has resigned after four months in the job, and in the US, Donald Trump has chosen the junior senator from Ohio J.D. Vance as his nominee for Vice-President. What could these developments mean for Labour? Lucy Dunn speaks to Katy Balls and Isabel Hardman.  Produced by Patrick Gibbons and Oscar Edmondson.

How will Labour deal with a problem like JD Vance?

JD Vance, unveiled last night as Donald Trump’s pick for vice-president, has claimed that Britain is ‘the first truly Islamist country that will get a nuclear weapon’. Vance made the comments at a National Conservatism Conference in Washington on Thursday. This is what he had to say: ‘I was talking with a friend recently. And we were talking about one of the big dangers in the world, of course, is nuclear proliferation…And I was talking about, what is the first truly Islamist country that will get a nuclear weapon and we were like, maybe it’s Iran, maybe Pakistan already kind of counts. And then we sort of finally decided maybe it’s actually the

What the Trump assassination attempt reveals about America

It has now been about 48 hours since Thomas Matthew Crooks, a socially isolated 20-year-old, attempted to assassinate Donald Trump, lightly injuring the former president, and fatally wounding an attendee at his rally. A lot has already been said: about the danger of an escalatory spiral that will take this country ever closer to the brink, for example, and about the need to abjure all forms of political violence. A lot, for now, remains in the realm of speculation: the effect that this event – and Trump’s defiant reaction to it – may have on the upcoming election and, more pressingly, how someone like Crooks could have come within a literal

Steerpike

Watch: Trump’s VP says UK will be first Islamist nuclear power

Donald Trump has chosen JD Vance as his US vice-presidential running mate – but the author of Hillbilly Elegy has some, erm, interesting views on the UK. At a conference last week, Vance said that the UK could become ‘the first truly Islamist country that will get a nuclear weapon’ after Labour’s landslide election victory. He told an audience at the National Conservatism event: ‘I have to beat up on the UK – just one additional thing. I was talking with a friend recently. And we were talking about, you know, one of the big dangers in the world, of course, is nuclear proliferation, though, of course, the Biden administration doesn’t

Freddy Gray

Trump the unifier?

Donald Trump has been revising his big convention speech in light of his brush with death at the weekend. ‘I basically had a speech that was an unbelievable rip-roarer,’ he told two interviewers yesterday. It was brutal – really good, really tough… I threw it out… I think it would be very bad if I got up and started going wild about how horrible everybody is, and how corrupt and crooked, even if it’s true. Had this not happened, we had a speech that was pretty well set that was extremely tough. Now, we have a speech that is more unifying. He’s Donald Trump, not Mahatma Gandhi Trump the Unifier-in-Chief?

How did security miss the Trump shooter?

Thomas Matthew Crooks, the 20-year-old shot dead by a secret service sniper following the attempt on former president Trump’s life at Butler, Pennsylvania, had donated $15 to ActBlue, a political action committee which raises money for Democratic causes. State voter records also show that Crooks was a registered Republican. Either way, it is too early to be certain of his motive. At a news conference on Sunday, FBI special agent Kevin Rojek said it was ‘surprising’ that the shooter was able to open fire What we do know is that since 9/11, domestic terror plots have outstripped the threat from al-Qaeda and Isis in the US, accounting for more than

Sam Leith

It wasn’t just Trump who dodged a bullet. It was all of us

Hard not to think that that’s the election in the bag for The Donald. Surviving an assassination attempt was always going to be a bounce in the polls, no question. Trump not only survived one but – improbably enough, given he’s a 78-year-old man and he was surrounded by a passel of burly, supposedly highly trained security guys whose only job was to put him on the deck and sit on his head till the fun was good and over – fought his way to his feet and had the presence of mind to raise a fist of defiance and shout ‘fight, fight, fight,’ to his supporters. I don’t think

Fraser Nelson

Evan Vucci’s Trump photo will define (and perhaps shape) history

History was made in Pennsylvania last night as much by the attempted assassination of Donald Trump as by Evan Vucci of the Associated Press. Vucci’s image shows a presidential candidate, blood from a bullet wound on his face, his fist raised defiantly, with the US flag behind him in the sky. Anyone in my line of work would have instantly recognised that this is a once-in-a-generation photograph – certain to becoming one of the defining images of American history. The best photographers tend to be lucky rather a lot Several bullets had been fired. More could have been forthcoming, but Vucci didn’t take cover. He was there in the thick

James Heale

Milwaukee reluctantly prepares for Trumpmania

Milwaukee, Wisconsin Milwaukee will host America’s conservative elite for the next five days – including Donald Trump, who has just survived an assassination attempt. This true-blue city has been chosen to host the Republican National Convention, primarily because of it’s the largest city in swing state Wisconsin. Around 50,000 delegates, politicians, apparatchiks and journalists are arriving here for the formal coronation of Trump – much to the chagrin of many locals. The city voted 79 per cent for Biden in 2020, with Trump subsequently seeking to overturn thousands of votes. ‘I don’t want them here’ was the reaction of Fred Smith, 54, when he saw the giant Republican elephant, emblazoned

Freddy Gray

American politics has a history of violence

When there are acts of violence on a campaign trail, we often hear about how this is a commentary on our uniquely toxic, hyper-partisan times. You won’t have to go far to find people now seeking to blame Donald Trump for stirring up the forces that almost killed him last night. But running for president in the United States is – and always has been – a very risky business. Every major candidate is an assassination target, and is given security detail to reflect this obvious fact.  Let’s look at the history. In 1835, Richard Lawrence tried to shoot President Andrew Jackson. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John