Donald Trump Is Running The Kind Of Campaign He Likes, But Not The One He Might Need

Donald Trump (Reuters)

In public, US President Donald Trump and his campaign team project an image of optimism and bravado. When presidential advisers meet with Republican donors and state party leaders, they insist they are fully capable of narrowly beating Biden on November 3.

On television and in campaign appearances, Trump and his sons dismiss public polls that suggest their chances are less bright. The president’s calendar of events is packed until election day and advisers predict a schedule of three daily rallies for the final weeks of the contest. When Trump contemplates the possibility of defeat, he does so in a tone of denial and disbelief.

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“Can you imagine if I lost?” He asked a crowd on Friday.

Privately, most members of Trump’s team acknowledge that it is not a far-fetched possibility.

Away from his candidate and the television cameras, some of Trump’s aides quietly acknowledge how serious his political situation appears to be and his inner circle has once again plunged into a state of recriminations and defamation. The president and some political advisers furiously blame Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, for the way he handled Trump’s recent hospitalization and it is believed that he is unlikely to remain in office beyond Wednesday. elections.

Trump supporters in Tucson, Arizona (Reuters)

Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien has argued to senior Republicans that the president has the upper hand in the race, although he has at times admitted that the margin is small.

Some mid-level campaign aides have even started looking for a job on Capitol Hill after the election, apparently assuming that the Trump administration will not have a second term in which they can work (it is not clear how attractive this may be to private sector employers who have worked on the Trump campaign).

Less than three weeks before Election Day, an extraordinary gulf separates Trump’s campaign experience from the more serious political evaluations of various party officials and operators, according to interviews with nearly a dozen Republican strategists, allies of the House. Blanca and elected officials. Some of Trump’s underlings display a mix of determination and resignation: a feeling that the best thing they can do down the stretch is to keep the president busy, happy, and off Twitter as much as possible, rather than implement a major change. in strategy.

Often their biggest obstacle is Trump himself.

Rather than send out a focused shutdown message, aimed at changing people’s perceptions of his handling of the coronavirus or laying out the reasons why he can revive the economy better than Biden can, Trump spends the days before of elections amidst a familiar mix of personal grievances, attacks on opponents, and obfuscation. He has come forward as a victim, avoided questions about his coronavirus tests, attacked his attorney general and the director of the FBI, and been ambiguous about the benefits of wearing a mask.

(Reuters)

Strategists say that, rather than drawing a consistent contrast to Biden on the economy, the president prefers to attack Biden’s son Hunter for his business and launch personal insults such as “Sleepy Joe” against a candidate. whose favorability ratings are much higher than Trump’s.

“Many Republican consultants are frustrated because we want the president’s campaign to focus on the economy in detail,” said David Kochel, a Republican strategist from Iowa. “His best message is: Trump built a great economy” and COVID-19 damaged it and Trump is a better option than Biden to restore it, he explained.

“Our constituency loves gossip about Hunter Biden, laptops and Mayor Giuliani,” added Kochel. “But they are already going to vote for Trump.”

Before Trump’s unexpected victory in 2016, his campaign also resorted to public bragging and private anxiety about the apparent probability of defeat. However, then, unlike now, Trump closed his campaign with a constant and forceful message in which he attacked Hillary Clinton with claims that she was a corrupt person with inside information and promised radical economic changes, a much more argument. of course the one offered today.

Stepien and other Trump campaign leaders, including Jason Miller, a senior strategist, have emphasized to Republicans in Washington that they hope to outperform public polls. They say their own data suggests that in several states, including Arizona and Pennsylvania, the contest is closer than in polls conducted by news organizations. They bet that the voter registration and turnout machinery that Trump’s team has built over the past four years will ultimately give them an advantage in heavily contested states on Election Day.

Despite this, some senior Republicans have viewed in direct new language the possibility, and even the probability, of a presidential defeat. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally, said last week that Democrats had a “good chance of winning the White House,” while Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse said his party could be facing a “slaughter”.

In some respects, the trajectory of the Trump campaign in its final weeks reflects structural weaknesses and long-standing internal divisions.

From its inception, the campaign never featured a dominant strategist, a role that has always been played by a president with an unclear vision of the professional political class. In a July interview with The New York Times, Jared Kushner, a White House adviser and son-in-law to the president, spoke honestly about who was in charge of the 2020 campaign: Trump, he said, was “in fact, the director of campaign at the end of the day ”.

Trump’s first campaign manager, Brad Parscale, focused heavily on building the infrastructure online and using it for fundraising, while Kushner oversaw his work.

Stepien, who replaced Parscale in July, is seen in Washington as a skilled strategist who knows the basics. However, with a small window of time before the election, he has not attempted to redraw Trump’s playbook.

For much of the past four years, Kushner had run as the main executor of the reelection campaign, but he retired from that role during the summer and in September, when it was clear that the political environment had deteriorated. Instead, he devoted himself to a series of diplomatic negotiations in the Middle East with little relevance to the elections. According to officials, in recent weeks, he has been busier.

Trump’s advisers have not given up hope for a turnaround. The president’s campaign, facing a financial crisis, appears to be targeting a handful of states that give him some chance of winning at the Electoral College: the contested states of the Sun Belt region, such as Florida, Arizona, Georgia. and North Carolina, as well as Pennsylvania, the largest pendulum state in the north of the country, according to data from media-tracking company Advertising Analytics. Trump’s travels in the past week and in the days ahead largely reflect those priorities.

The campaign has made bigger ad bookings starting next week in states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Iowa, though it has frequently adjusted or canceled bookings as its start dates approach.

Meanwhile, Trump negotiates deviations from his own schedule of activities to help people who matter to him personally; for example, you are likely to schedule an event with Graham. Although the trip would overlap with a North Carolina media market, and is something Trump wants to do, it would not help his own electoral map much.

This kind of distraction is what heightens the sense of frustration on Capitol Hill and even inside the West Wing that many Republicans see October as a wasted month so far, also over the decision to reject a second debate.

“The reality is that maybe their time is up,” said Rob Stutzman, a Republican strategist based in California. “They desperately needed the debate to have a wider audience and to be given the opportunity to offer some kind of contrast that would change the trajectory of the contest; that is, a different Trump or an opportunity for Biden to screw up. That was his best hope to score a last minute point, “he added.

© The New York Times 2020

“There are two possibilities, that it continues to decrease or that the trajectory changes, that instead of continuing to decrease, it increases again, we see this phenomenon in 8 states,” said the Undersecretary of Health

“There are two possibilities, that it continues to decrease or that the trajectory changes, that instead of continuing to decrease, it increases again, we see this phenomenon in 8 states,” said the Undersecretary of Health

“There are two possibilities, that it continues to decrease or that the trajectory changes, that instead of continuing to decrease, it increases again, we see this phenomenon in 8 states,” said the Undersecretary of Health

“There are two possibilities, that it continues to decrease or that the trajectory changes, that instead of continuing to decrease, it increases again, we see this phenomenon in 8 states,” said the Undersecretary of Health

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