Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Johnson’s ‘Presidential’ Speech Fizzles

Senator gets no coverage of Mar-a-Lago speech, but working hard to get national attention.

By - Apr 13th, 2021 04:48 pm
Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Portrait of a man seeking national attention: 

On Monday Wisconsin’s U.S. Senator Ron Johnson had on his medical hat, and co-authored an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal arguing we don’t just need shots to fight COVID-19, but pills. Johnson, who has a history of pushing unproven pandemic remedies, wants the FDA “to explore repurposed drugs” as a solution, including hydroxychloroquine, which studies have shown have no efficacy in combatting COVID-19 and may actually be harmful.

And last week Tuesday, Johnson was on Fox Business to speculate that the “Biden family business” could be up to no good. “‘I’m concerned about the complex web of foreign entanglements, particularly within China… which makes it very difficult for anybody to catch and really uncover what’s all going on.” They could be laundering money, Johnson suggested. Except that there is no evidence Joe Biden ever got involved in any business.

The day before that Johnson was on Fox News with Laura Ingraham to recycle the claims he promoted as the head of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee that Hunter Biden, the president’s son, has “foreign financial entanglements that really do represent a counter intelligence and extortion threat to… the Biden presidency.”  His claims back then were widely dismissed as lacking any substance.

And just a few days before that Johnson was on Fox Business to assail Biden’s domestic agenda as “radical leftist” and condemn his policies on the border for facilitating “evil” people and “human trafficking.”

The week before that Johnson took a two-day trip to Texas to check out the border along the Rio Grande River, then wrote an opinion column for the Fox News website condemning the Biden administration for policies that “entice migrants to make a perilous journey, subjecting themselves to the depredations of human traffickers, sexual abuse, involuntary servitude and even death.” He also appeared on Fox Business to make these same charges.

Johnson has become a go-to guy for any Fox News host seeking outrageous comments, appearing some 10 times over a five week period. He is clearly trying to build his national profile. Johnson was also listed among a group of Republican officials who would give speeches at last weekend’s conference at Mar-a-Lago about the future of the Republican Party, as Politico reported. The speakers included such 2024 presidential hopefuls as former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott of Florida and Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

If Johnson hoped he might be lumped in with these presidential hopefuls, he got an endorsement from Donald Trump that was both helpful and unhelpful to the cause. On Thursday, two days before the event, Trump released a statement through his campaign committee endorsing Johnson, but for U.S. Senator. ”Even though he has not yet announced that he is running, and I certainly hope he does, I am giving my Complete and Total Endorsement to Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin,” Trump said. ”He is brave, he is bold, he loves our Country, our Military, and our Vets. He will protect our Second Amendment, and everything else we stand for. It is the kind of courage we need in the U.S. Senate.”

At Mar-a-Lago, Johnson “lavished praise” on Desantis, Noem and Johnson, as Politico reported. As for Johnson’s speech, if he gave one, not a word of it was reported by the media. Nor is it mentioned on the Senator’s website, among all the backpatting about his media appearances.

The speech by Trump grabbed nearly all the coverage, but “Notably, Trump allowed DeSantis to share the stage with him,” the story reported. “While Trump used his speech to share with donors that he was ‘disappointed’ in [Mike] Pence, he has privately told advisers that if he runs again, he wants DeSantis as his running mate.”

So it looks like Johnson won’t be running on a Trump ticket. The senator continues to say he hasn’t decided whether to run for reelection. “I don’t have to make up my mind” he told the AP. “These campaigns are way too long to spend way too much money. I mean, I’m doing everybody a favor, quite honestly.”

He’s certainly not doing the Republican Party a favor. If he decides not to run for reelection (and he’s only raised $590,000, a meager sum for today’s Senate races) he will leave his party scrambling to catch up to Democrats, who have several likely candidates and are raising a lot of money. 

But whether Johnson’s goal is to enter the presidential primary, or simply to get all the national attention he can, he is better off not revealing he plans to step down from the Senate. A lame duck will not be as newsworthy. In the meantime there are so many more Fox news shows to do over the next 18 months. 

2 thoughts on “Back in the News: Johnson’s ‘Presidential’ Speech Fizzles”

  1. Keith Prochnow says:

    What’s the hurry? Let Johnson drag his feet as long as he wants. The longer he dithers, the more time the Dems have to try to get our of their own way and find an electable candidate.

  2. ringo muldano says:

    RoJo has no soul. Morphed from soft pedal obstructionist to full on crazed vampire squid. Is erectile dysfunction caused by acting like a stupid dick?

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