Crypto becomes Trump’s latest tool to challenge Biden

Donald Trump is once again making presidential history by becoming the first major party nominee to court cryptocurrency traders, causing unease among some Democrats.

At Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday, Trump urged crypto supporters to vote for him, criticizing the Biden administration’s regulatory crackdown on the industry. “They are against it,” he asserted while promoting his own non-fungible token (NFT).

This shift marks a departure from Trump’s previous criticism of crypto during his first term. The GOP’s growing friendliness towards digital assets contrasts with the division among Democrats on the industry’s legitimacy. Trump’s direct support is a milestone for crypto firms, which have invested heavily in lobbying efforts to influence the 2024 elections.

“President Trump’s remarks signal a sea change in the importance of digital assets this election cycle,” said Kristin Smith, CEO of the Blockchain Association, a leading crypto industry lobbying group.

Trump’s stance provides a new line of attack on Biden. SEC Chair Gary Gensler, a Biden nominee, has aggressively enforced actions against crypto firms for allegedly violating federal securities laws. The White House further angered crypto advocates by threatening to veto bipartisan House legislation that would reverse SEC guidelines disliked by the industry.

“Gensler is very much against it,” Trump said. “The Democrats are very much against it.”

However, not all Democrats oppose crypto. Twenty-one Democrats joined Republicans to vote for a resolution overturning SEC crypto guidance. Trump’s position could politicize the crypto regulation debate, a potential risk for an industry seeking bipartisan support.

Following Trump’s comments, pro-crypto Democrat Rep. Wiley Nickel tweeted that his party “cannot hand this issue to the Republicans.” Yet, influential Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren remain critical, citing consumer risks and crypto’s role in financial crime.

Despite the controversy, the impact on voter preferences remains uncertain. A Pew Research Center survey revealed skepticism about crypto’s safety and reliability, especially after major scandals like the FTX fraud and Binance’s settlement over financial crime allegations.

However, recent polls indicate crypto is a significant issue for over 20 percent of voters in key swing states. Crypto ownership is higher among communities of color and young people, crucial demographics for Biden in 2020 but now challenging for him.

Trump’s support for crypto aligns with right-wing politicians who view it as an alternative to the mainstream financial system. A Paradigm poll showed that crypto owners favor Trump over Biden, 48 percent to 39 percent.

“President Trump understands freedom and liberty. He knows that innovation needs to be protected in America,” said Ohio GOP Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, a longtime crypto advocate. Trump’s comments reflect his belief in fostering an environment conducive to innovation.

Former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, a potential cabinet member in a second Trump administration, also champions crypto and has influenced Trump’s opposition to a government-backed central bank digital currency.

Trump’s journey from a crypto skeptic to a supporter is notable. His SEC chair initiated significant litigation against a prominent crypto firm during his presidency. Now, Trump has issued his own NFT and owns $2.8 million in a crypto wallet.

“It’s remarkable to see the 180 he has done on crypto,” said Cody Carbone, chief policy officer at the Chamber of Digital Commerce. “It’s great to see him be supportive of the industry.”

However, Trump’s embrace of crypto carries risks. The volatile digital asset market and high-profile legal issues could complicate his position. Moreover, his support might further polarize the crypto regulation debate, challenging the industry’s efforts to gain bipartisan backing.

“I don’t want this to become a partisan issue,” Carbone emphasized. “This presents an opportunity for Democrats to educate themselves on the benefits of digital assets.”


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