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News | US Politics: Nobel laureate Paul Krugman says Trump 'will be looming over' U.S. politics, Republican Party for some time

Sam Meredith

President Donald Trump may have lost the presidential election but Trumpism is here to stay, according to Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman and historian Niall Ferguson.

President-elect Joe Biden could be on course to secure 306 electoral votes, what Trump had described as a “landslide” victory four years ago.

The results of the Nov. 3 election had been expected to coincide with a “blue wave,” with Democrats tipped to win the White House, keep control of the House and gain a majority in the Senate.

Instead, Republican Senate and House candidates outperformed and Trump’s popularity among his core base proved surprisingly resilient. The 74-year-old Trump won more votes for president than any other candidate in history, except for Biden.

“Trump will be looming over his party and the U.S. political scene,” Paul Krugman, an economics professor at City University of New York’s Graduate Center, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the virtual Abu Dhabi International Exhibition & Conference.

The economist, whose research interest includes macroeconomics and international economics, won the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his analysis on trade patterns and location of economic activity.

“No president in the United States has ever been less transparent about his personal finances, but it appears quite likely that Trump will be bankrupt. I mean … let’s be blunt about this, he’s been getting a revenue stream, in part because people have been funneling money to his businesses,” Krugman said, without specifying any further details.

“So, does a Donald Trump who is forced into bankruptcy carry the same weight? Or can he do something? Can he create a media empire that keeps him afloat?”

Last month, The New York Times published an analysis of Trump’s tax records that said more than 200 companies, special-interest groups, and foreign governments had funneled millions of dollars to Trump’s properties while reaping benefits from the president and his administration.

The White House dismissed the analysis as “just more fake news.” A spokesperson declined to comment for this article.

President Donald Trump listens to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto speak by phone as he announces that United States has reached an agreement with Mexico to enter a new trade deal in the Oval Office of the White House on Monday, Aug 27, 2018.

“Trumpism, the movement, is durable,” Krugman said. “It turns out that it taps into some deep-seated resentments.”

Trumpism ‘inseparable’ to the Republican Party

Trump has refused to accept the result of the election, falsely claiming via Twitter on Saturday that he had “won this election, by a lot!”

Trump and his campaign have filed lawsuits in a half dozen closely contested states in a move that many see as an attempt to sow doubt over the legitimacy of Biden’s win. Legal experts have dismissed claims of voter fraud as meritless.

Trumpism is very much with us, even if Donald Trump himself is heading for the political exit.

Niall Ferguson

senior fellow at the Hoover Institution

In his first speech as president-elect Saturday night, Biden called for unity among Americans.

“This is the time to heal in America,” Biden said in Wilmington, Delaware. He added it was time to “let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end, here and now.”

He has since described Trump’s refusal to concede as “an embarrassment.”

“Donald Trump is on his way out with a pretty bad grace, but he’s going. Trumpism, which is really his contribution to conservative politics, is not going anywhere,” Niall Ferguson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, told CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche at the UBS Virtual European Conference.

“And that’s because Donald Trump tapped into a range of issues about which middle America, just to use a broad-brush term, felt pretty strongly and still feel strongly. That’s to say, liberal immigration policies, free trade policies, the power of progressive ideas, and liberal elite institutions, from academia to the media, all of these issues are still very much with us,” Ferguson said.

“And you can tell that by the strength of support that President Trump and the Republican Party still were able to pull together in the midst of a pandemic and a pretty serious economic crisis,” he added.

Biden and running mate Kamala Harris, who made history as the first Black woman and the first Asian American woman to be elected vice president, have acknowledged the gravity of the work ahead but insisted they are ready for the challenge.

“I think the future of the Republican Party is inseparable from Trumpism. Because the old ideas, the neoconservatism of the Bush years, or, or the economic liberalism of the Reagan era, you know, when it was all about free trade, it was about liberal immigration, it was about free markets and tax cuts, that kind of conservatism just isn’t going to win elections,” Ferguson said.

“So, Trumpism is very much with us, even if Donald Trump himself is heading for the political exit.”

— CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.


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