GOP Is Hyping Marianne Williamson to Mess With Biden
In her latest bid to be president, Marianne Williamson seems to have some early and unlikely fans of her 2024 Democratic primary campaign: Republicans.
No, Republicans aren’t actually interested in sending the geodesic dome-inhabiting, self-help book-writing, new age, far-left Democrat to the White House. But they are interested in wreaking some havoc in the Democratic primary.
Williamson’s presidential bid—at least on the official calendar—is all but three days old. But after a media circuit over the weekend, most notably including a sit-down interview with ABC News, Williamson’s critiques of the Democratic establishment and President Joe Biden are being eaten up by the right, who quickly amplified them to their base.
The Republican National Committee’s research page tweeted out three separate clips of Williamson over the weekend—one in which she said the Democratic National Committee is rigging the primary for Biden, one comparing the news reports pronouncing her campaign a long shot to the ones that called Hillary Clinton a “shoo-in,” and one in which she said Biden should debate her.
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“He certainly should debate me,” Williamson said. “It’s called democracy, and I’m running as well.”
In a statement, RNC spokesperson Emma Vaughn told The Daily Beast it is no wonder the DNC “rigged the primary calendar for Biden. They know Marianne Williamson would beat him in New Hampshire and Iowa.”
(Conversations about changing the DNC’s nominating calendar have been happening for years—and the calendar was set before Williamson hopped into the race.)
Republican insiders say there’s reason for boosting Williamson. She represents a divide among Democrats—one Republicans want to amplify, perhaps to distract from their own intra-party chaos.
“The more we talk about Marianne Williamson, the weaker Biden looks. And Marianne Williamson, a perfect caricature of the Democratic Party, is a lot of fun to talk about,” one senior GOP aide told The Daily Beast.
Another Republican who wished to remain anonymous—this one a former Trump strategist—said they were “normally one to enjoy a good troll campaign, but I actually think Republicans should be very excited—and very quiet—about running against Biden.”
“The good thing,” this strategist continued, “is that anything that exposes the cracks in the Democratic Party is a good thing—even if it’s facilitated by a politician whose guiding principle is the power of the crystals.”
The GOP campaign to boost Williamson also seems to be percolating into right-wing media. Dick Morris, a former Clinton adviser turned Republican, talked about Williamson on Newsmax in late February, after reports surfaced that she was planning a run.
“If anybody offers an alternative to Biden, they’re gonna get a lot of votes simply because they’re not walking dead like Biden is. And I think that she will do very well in the early polling and might well be the leak that breaks the dam. All the other Democrats might be afraid to run because nobody is. But now she is,” Morris said.
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Other online conservative pundits lauded Williamson for joining the race.
“Finally a Democrat with the guts to take on Biden directly. NONE of the top Democrats think Biden should run again. But only @marwilliamson is stepping up. Watch this—she’s fantastic,” Steve Hilton, a conservative Fox News host, tweeted next to a video of Williamson’s launch.
Even publications that usually find any reason to dunk on Democrats seem to be giving her a clean read. The Citizen Free Press, a far-right quick-links site, circulated clips of her launch in which she criticized establishment politicians for “knowingly” allowing children “to go hungry.”
An Insider reporter who attended Williamson’s announcement speech at Union Station in Washington, D.C., also spotted a staffer for a GOP member of Congress at Williamson’s launch event on Saturday.
Williamson is a self-help book author by trade and a spiritual guru who’s known for palling around with celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Laura Dern, the latter of whom Williamson once lived with. She’s also known for her unconventional policy ideas, like creating a “Department of Peace.” She ran for president in 2020 in the crowded Democratic field and twice made it onto the debate stage, where internet commentators described her as the politician equivalent of a girl who carries crystals in her pocket. (Williamson, for the record, said in 2019 that she’s never owned crystals.)
There’s a pretty obvious motivation for Republicans to hammer the wedge between Wiliamson and Biden. Williamson and the GOP, for the time being, share a mutual target: Biden. They just also have different motivations. Williamson wants to beat him in the primaries. The GOP wants to beat him altogether.
Although Williamson’s bid is undoubtedly a long shot, if she manages to gain some momentum, she could take away crucial time and resources from the early months of Biden’s re-election campaign and take a bite out of his incumbent advantage.
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Williamson’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment on the apparent favor from conservatives, or a question on whether Williamson would willingly accept Republican endorsements of her candidacy. It’s unclear what her actual staffing situation is like—and who’s on her early roster of support.
Last cycle, Williamson did get caught on a hot mic acknowledging Republicans were often nicer to her than “lefties.”
“What does it say that Fox News is nicer to me than the lefties are? What does it say that the conservatives are nicer to me?” she wondered in the 2019 hot-mic moment, going on to add, “I’m such a lefty. I mean, I’m a serious lefty… I didn’t think the left was as mean as the right. They are.”
Williamson is the first to announce a primary bid against Biden, but there’s no guarantee she’ll be alone in that effort. Progressive commentator and former congressional candidate Nina Turner, for one, hasn’t ruled out a 2024 bid of her own.
“There is an appetite among people across our movement to keep working-class issues front and center in the national discourse. I am often asked if I am willing to take on that responsibility, but as of now, I have not made any decision,” Turner said in a statement. “However, what I do know is that our party will only benefit from having a transparent and open process, where dissent is welcomed and not shut out,” Turner added.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a unique human amalgamation of Democratic politics and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, also says he’s considering a run for president. He told a crowd in New Hampshire on Friday that he was “thinking about it.”
“And I’ve passed the biggest hurdle, which is my wife has green-lighted it,” he said.
But those challenges are unlikely to sway the strategy for Democrats’ national campaign arm—the Democratic National Committee—which supports the incumbent by default. The Senate and House campaign arms for Democrats do the same.
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In February, the DNC also passed a resolution explicitly supporting Biden’s re-election, expressing the committee’s “complete support for President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the Biden administration, and support their re-election in 2024.”
That would likely mean the DNC would not host debates between Biden and Williamson, or any other primary challengers, for that matter.
Biden, meanwhile, has not officially announced his 2024 plans, though the White House is adamant he intends to run. Some polls show the majority of Democratic voters would prefer otherwise.
A February poll conducted by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that only 37 percent of Democrats want Biden to run for another term—down from 52 percent prior to the midterm elections.
The White House on Monday also presented itself as unbothered by news of Williamson hopping in the race. “I’m just not tracking that,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “I mean, if I had a—a, uh, what’s it called? A little globe here—crystal ball—then I can tell you… If I could feel her aura.”
If by some exceptional circumstance Biden chose not to run in 2024, Williamson could get a bit of a first-mover advantage in what would surely become a crowded primary.
But for now, she has the primary circuit all to herself. Williamson soon plans to visit New Hampshire—a state that promises to host the first primary in the nation, even though it goes against the DNC’s new primary calendar. She’s hoping Democratic voters there and elsewhere will hear her pitch.
“The Democratic Party needs to be a conduit for the healing of this country,” Williamson told ABC News. “But first, the Democratic Party needs to look in the mirror and heal itself.”
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