Resources for Teachers and Students

Front Page Talking Points


Edgy comments by Trump spur discussions about the stakes in next year's presidential vote


1.gifReact to a presidential race quote, column or letter – why do you agree or disagree?

2.gifRead about a local politician. What office does she or he hold, or want to win?

3.gifLook for coverage of another 2024 topic and describe it.

Even with more than 10 months until Americans cast ballots, a growing array of political observers in both major parties frame the 2024 presidential election in stark language. Joe Biden's probable challenger, based on all polls of Republicans in recent months, is the former president he unseated in 2020 – Donald Trump. Statements this fall by Trump – such as "the gloves are off" -- lead some prominent people and media commentators to worry that democracy could be eroded if he wins.

"He pledged to be a dictator on day one," former Vice President Al Gore said last week. "You kind of wonder what it'll take for people to believe him when he tells us who he is," added the Democrat, who served from 1993-2001 under Bill Clinton. For his part, Trump said recently in New York that Biden "is the real threat to democracy," adding that Democrats "think the threat-to-democracy hoax will save Biden from having created the worst inflation in our country's history, a fragile economy that may soon end in a depression."

Although he 91 charges in a Georgia court and from a federal special prosecutor in Washington, D.C., Trump holds a solid lead among rivals for his party's nomination. He skipped all four Republican debates so far. The party begins picking convention delegates Jan. 15 in Iowa, followed by a New Hampshire primary eight days later. These are among Trump policies and comments drawing attention:

  • "We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country, that lie and steal and cheat on elections," he said ominously in a Veterans Day speech last month.
  • He vows publicly that a special prosecutor would "go after" President Biden and his family on unverified corruption beliefs. In addition, he speaks openly of "retribution . . . for those who have been wronged and betrayed. . . . I am your warrior, I am your justice."
  • He reportedly told advisers and friends privately in recent months that the Justice Department would investigate past officials and allies who now criticize his actions or behavior as president. Trump has also talked of prosecuting officials at the FBI and Justice Department, according to The Washington Post.
  • He pledges to send troops into Democratic-run cities to enforce public order, even if not asked to do so by a governor or mayor. "I'm not waiting," Trump said in Davenport, Iowa, last March.
  • He threatens to punish certain broadcasters, tweeting this fall that during a second Trump administration NBC, MSNBC and "and others of the LameStream Media will be thoroughly scrutinized for their knowingly dishonest and corrupt coverage of people, things and events. Why should NBC, or any other of the corrupt & dishonest media companies, be entitled to use the very valuable Airwaves of the USA, FREE? They are a true threat to Democracy."
  • He reportedly plans to restore his 2018 executive orders that greatly weakened federal employee unions and stripped many federal workers, including FBI agents, of civil service protections against dismissal for no reason.
  • He'll ban entry by people from certain Muslim-majority nations.
  • An extreme expansion of his first-term immigration limits is envisioned, including moves to round up, detain and expel millions of undocumented foreigners.
  • He wants to build camps for detainees awaiting deportation, using money from the military budget to avoid a congressional vote on new funds. "We will carry out the largest domestic deportation operation in American history," he told an Iowa rally this fall.

In response, the Democratic president said this month at a Boston campaign event: "I don't think anyone doubts our democracy is even more at risk in 2024. . . . We're running against an election denier-in-chief. Trump's not even hiding the ball anymore. He's telling us exactly what he wants to do. He's making no bones about it." Similarly, former Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted this month: "Our democracy is in peril. Everyone must be a part of the struggle to protect it." In a new book, former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming calls Trump a clear danger to American democracy. "One of the things that we see . . . is a sort of a sleepwalking into dictatorship in the United States," she said this month on "CBS Sunday Morning."

Trump says: "I said I want to be a dictator for one day. And you know why I want to be a dictator? Because I want a wall . . . and I want to drill, drill, drill [for oil]." – Speech to New York Young Republican Club, Dec. 9

Republican senator says: "His behavior suggests that this is a person who will impose his will if he can on the judicial system, on the legislative branch and on the entire nation." – Sen. Mitt Romney, R- Utah

Columnist says: "We're going to have a campaign in which one of the candidates is facing more felony indictments than most of America's Most Wanted." – Gail Collins, The New York Times

Front Page Talking Points is written by Alan Stamm for, Copyright 2024

Front Page Talking Points Archive

Common Core State Standard
SL.CCS.1/2/3/4 Grades 6-12: An essay of a current news event is provided for discussion to encourage participation, but also inspire the use of evidence to support logical claims using the main ideas of the article. Students must analyze background information provided about a current event within the news, draw out the main ideas and key details, and review different opinions on the issue. Then, students should present their own claims using facts and analysis for support.