Background Briefing: February 25, 2024

A Lackluster CPAC and the VP Auditions in Spite Of Trump Trying to Have His Last VP Killed

We begin with Trump’s expected victory in South Carolina after his keynote speech on Friday at CPAC in which he referred to himself as “a proud dissident” and “a total genius.” We discuss how this year’s gathering of right wing activists was lackluster compared to earlier conclaves, signaling Trump’s flagging appeal in a general election as he makes strides in the primaries with the MAGA faithful. Joining us is Tom LoBianco, a national political reporter for 24sight covering Trump’s third run for the White House. He is the author of the biography of Vice President Mike PencePiety & Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House, and his writing has appeared in Vanity Fair’s The Hive, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, POLITICO Magazine and more. He previously covered the Trump-Russia investigation and the White House for The Associated Press and the 2016 campaign and Congress for CNN and we assess the chances of the Vice Presidential hopefuls auditioning to be Trump’s running mate in spite of Trump having tried to have his previous VP killed.

 

The GOP Gets a Free Pass With the Rural Vote While Doing Nothing to Help, and a Lot to Harm, Rural Folk

Then we examine the rural-urban divide and get an analysis of why the Democrats aren’t making inroads into Red State America while the Republicans get 69% of the rural vote without doing anything to help rural folk, instead doing a lot to harm them. Joining us is Paul Waldman, a journalist and opinion writer who is a former columnist at The Washington Post and the author or co-author of four previous books on media and politics, includingBeing Right Is Not Enough: What Progressives Must Learn from Conservative Success and The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories that Shape the Political World. His latest book, coauthored with Tom Schaller, is White Rural Rage: The Threat to American Democracy.

 

The Latest Round of Sanctions While China, India and Brazil Buy Discounted and Smuggled Russian Oil

Then finally we look into the latest round of sanctions against Russia following the murder of the opposition leader Navalny and explore how Putin’s main source of funds for his war in Ukraine comes from discounted and smuggled oil, which China, India and Brazil are buying to keep the country’s economy afloat. Joining us is Christine Abely, a professor at New England Law school teaching contracts and international business transactions. She has worked at several law firms in business litigation and international trade and sanctions law and is the author of The Russia Sanctions: The Economic Response to Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine.