In the past, the term “October Surprise” has almost always involved the Democrats turning up some last-minute dirt on a Republican. Perhaps the best-known of these was the revelation of a driving-while-under-the-influence charge (DWI) against Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush on Friday, November 3, 2000, a mere three days before the razor-thin 2000 election. Many political analysts think this cost Bush significant votes among evangelical Christians.
But the “October Surprise” of the 2016 campaign was close: a video from an “Access Hollywood” interview with Billy Bush came out on October 7, 2016, in which Trump made comments about what it was like to be a star in which he said that women fell all over him and “You can do anything . . . Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Of course, Trump never said he did this, only that such was the situation with stars. (As a former rock drummer, I can attest to the general direction of President Trump’s comments!)
The 2016 October Surprise came out too early to affect the election other than, as pollster Richard Baris speculates, costing Trump two states—New Hampshire and Minnesota. (Baris maintains that the polling showed a V-shaped dip for about a week in early voting in Minnesota, for example, and it was enough to prevent Trump from winning the state). In our 2017 book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, Joel Pollak and I speculated that this October Surprise was really intended for release in the last week, but that the campaign of Hillary Clinton was spooked by a series of internal polls—one of which I saw as released by the Trump camp—that showed her slipping dangerously in even safe states such as Oregon and Rhode Island.
“Access Hollywood” was largely blunted through the genius of Steve Bannon, who convinced Trump to juxtapose words vs. actions by bringing three of Bill Clinton’s victims (i.e., women who accused Clinton of assault and, in one case, rape) and a woman whose assailant Hillary Clinton, as a lawyer, had freed. The contrast was indeed stark, and despite the Hoax News media’s refusal to cover the four women, their presence at the October debate clearly rattled the Clinton team.
Then there was the alleged October Surprise that never happened. In April 1991, former Jimmy Carter Presidential aide Gary Sick told the New York Times that then-vice-presidential candidate George W. Bush had flown to Iran in an SR-71 spy plane just prior to the 1980 election to convince the Iranians not to release the American hostages until after the election. A Democrat House investigated and concluded “there is no credible evidence” to support the nonsensical claim. By the way, let that sink in. This was a time when a Democrat House could be counted on to at least offer a fair and honest appraisal of facts).
So, what is in store for 2020? Many Republicans walk on eggshells fearing the Democrats’ October Surprise. But the fact is, they are out of surprises. Over the course of four and a half years, President Trump’s opponents have not only thrown the kitchen sink at him but have dismantled the plumbing in the entire house, all without success. Just for a reminder of the few failed efforts:
*Trump gained financially in his hotels from being president (the eleemosynary charges that have gone nowhere)
*Trump paid off Stormy Daniels for sex. (This resulted in Daniels’ own attorney, Michael Avenatti going to jail after being charged with everything from domestic violence to extortion to fraud and embezzlement. He was arrested in May 2019 on wire fraud and identity theft charges, released on bail and arrested again on January 2020 on extortion charges while awaiting his previous trial. Sometimes justice is sweet).
*Michael Cohen has the goods. (This resulted in Cohen’s arrest and conviction for campaign finance charges, tax evasion, and later a conviction for perjury. Once again, none of the evidence touched Trump, but Cohen has been in and out of prison since May 2019).
*E. Jean Carroll claimed Trump raped her in a dressing room 26 years ago, then immediately began to backtrack. She was discredited and vanished as quickly as she surfaced.
*Omarosa Manigault Newman supposedly had a tell-all on Trump that would “finish him.” Crickets.
*Then there was the “muh Russia” Hoax that ran for more than a year. Daily leaks promised that “Orange Man Gone” and CNN came close to posting a countdown clock. Then, in March 2019, Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report to conclude there was no collusion.
*Before the air could even go out of the balloon, the Democrats, thanks to a low-level Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, launched an impeachment effort based on a Trump phone call with the Ukraine. This, despite having even less substance than the vapid Mueller Report, was viewed as the Democrats’ only shot at an impeachment before the 2020 elections, so they fired their last bullet, an impeachment of Trump, which promptly and overwhelmingly was squashed in the senate (overwhelmingly because even with the defection of Mitt (“Minion”) Romney, the motion came up 15 votes short of what was needed to remove Trump.
By the way, do you know how meaningless and impotent impeachment was? The Democrats don’t even refer to it and almost never even put the words “the impeached” before “President Trump” when they talk about him publicly.
The point is, they have no “October Surprises” left. They used them up in January, -September of the previous three years.
But Trump does.
Here are seven of the big true bombshells—not merely internet site click-bait “booms”—that could land before the election, all of them to the detriment of the Democrats:
1) The Maxwell/Epstein documents. As I write this, already parts of the documents related to Jeffrey Epstein have revealed testimony that Bill Clinton was, er, “unsupervised” with at least one underage girl at Epstein’s “pedophile island.” Clinton, of course, denies it, but he’s all over those flight logs like spilled coffee. The odds are a great deal will come from this. Alan Dershowitz has already been named in the documents as has former Democrat New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. There is no way of predicting where, or how deep this goes, except it seems the only person never on the Lolita Express was one, Donald John Trump.
2) The Durham/Barr probe. I remain skeptical that any indictments will come from this, but lately Attorney General William Barr has inched toward saying there would be movement, and before the election. Even if “big” names are not indicted (at first), this threatens to turn the entire “muh Russia” investigation on its head and finally bring some degree of justice to D.C. That Barr has five DOJ agents or attorneys working this is something of a relief, though he is still about 65 short of the number Mueller employed. Serious criminal prosecution of the Deep State would, if possible, energize Trump voters even more.
3) China, China, China. Trump keeps this simmering on the back burner, but it won’t go away. This week he suggested he would ban the Chinese-controlled TikTok app in the United States. Supposedly, this was the instrument by which Democrats artificially beefed up the Tulsa rally numbers—perhaps tipping their hand too soon. Trump has the winning hand on this and anything China. The virus is, after all, the China Virus. The Chicoms lied and people died. Their tech recently has developed mysterious troubles (fires on ships, etc.). Trump has made it clear to Xi that he can be a trading partner or an enemy, but there is no such thing as a “friendly adversary". To the degree that the American public hears about Chinese mischief, it works to Trump’s advantage. After all, Democrat Joe Biden practically has “Made/Paid in China” tattooed on his chest. Any new Chinese shenanigans both enhance Trump’s status and damage Biden.
4) The riots. Yes, Virginia, there really are riots, they really do hurt people, they really do burn and destroy property, and they really are evil people, not “moms” and “vets.” (One video of the “vets” showed them unable to even perform a simple about-face. Yeah. “Vets.”) Despite a quarantine on all violent riot activity footage by Hoax News, it still seeps out. Barr’s agents have arrested and charged hundreds. Probably to be effective, he’ll have to add some zeros to those numbers. Still, this is a winning issue for Trump. All it will take is a September murder of a cop or an innocent bystander by the fascist so-called Antifa or the Black Lives Murder thugs and public sentiment will swing rapidly.
5) Red4EdisDead. Just two years ago, one of the key factors driving the Democrat seizure of the House was the “Red4Ed” movement in Arizona. Led by a devout Marxist and backed by the always oppressive National Education Association, this was to be the recipe for every other state. Step one was to identify a shortcoming in the K-12 education system----usually teacher pay. Step two was to demand higher teacher pay, but at a rate that would greatly boost the pay of administrators. Step three was to ally the parents behind the “teachers are underpaid” banner and use the issue to bash Republicans who actually cared about budgets. The final step was to form a permanent Democrat voting bloc of parents and suburban Karen's. This worked effectively in Arizona, and Red4Ed sprang up in other states, including Ohio, Florida, Texas, and many other states. It was a tailor-made program for using a “soft” issue to push the soccer moms into the Democrat voting booths.
Now, it’s on life support. The China Virus has driven a wedge between at least some of the parents who want (perhaps even need) their children to return to school and the teachers who, perhaps genuinely, claim it is too dangerous for them, the teachers, who want schools to stay closed. Increasingly, the two-year-old alliance is already fracturing. “Distance learning” (as discussed in my previous article, “Back to School Part II: The Perpetually Closed Schools”) is not proving to be a substitute for most parents. Nor, in truth, are most teachers equipped or trained to supervise “distance learning,” which takes both preparation and experience. Many states are either not opening schools or, worse, still don’t know what they are going to do. One thing is certain: the longer the kids stay home, the greater the divide between parents and teachers.
6) The China Virus. So far, the politics of this haven’t played out either way. The public seems divided on whether to take the doctors’ initial advice (that increasingly seems wrong) and mask up/social distance or to go with the more recent reports of a variety of treatments working that do not involve a locked-down country. Suffice it to say, the small business community in the USA is getting crushed by the lock-downs, while the corporate giants seem fine with more regulation and separation. Trump addressed this today, noting the wealth disparities that are not good for the country. This is the same populist message, albeit with a slightly different twist, that fueled Trump’s 2016 victory. According to focus groups, he is getting the FDR treatment so far by the voters, namely, he was handed a crap sandwich with the Virus and has done his best. Therefore, it seems that Trump can only be the beneficiary of any dramatic improvements in the China Virus environment between now and election day.
7) The Economy. Recently a poll showed that the economy was the #1 concern of Americans, beating out the riots/violence, racism, the environment, and, lessee, what was that other thing . . . oh yeah, the China Virus. Despite a dismal second-quarter economic report, most experts (keeping in mind these are the same people whose “expectations” of economic activity area nearly always wrong) nevertheless, expect a substantial rebound in the third quarter. Any good economic news reminds voters that as Trump said, he did it once and he can do it again. Meanwhile, his doddering opponent (who appears to be getting worse by the day: recent footage had him being led like a blind man) still has no actual plan for anything. Indeed, Biden still can’t even pick a vice president. OK, admittedly there is no line whatsoever for the job. When he said he’d pick a black woman, word is he’s reviewing the rosters of the WNBA and looking at footage of Basketball Wives. There is nothing the economy could do to help Biden except to utterly fall through the floor, and there is a lot that could happen to remind people that pre-China Virus Trump had the most astounding economic recovery in history.
Seven sleepers. Seven land mines for Joe Biden. The amazing thing is, Trump doesn’t need any of them to win and even win big. But with just one, he might blow the election wide open. With two or three? Stay tuned.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author of the New York Times #1 bestseller A Patriot’s History of the Untied States with Michael Allen, the author of Reagan: The American President, and is the founder of the history curriculum website, the Wild World of History that provides full US and World history curricula for homeschoolers and educators of all types (www.wildworldofhistory.com).