Updated Apr 30, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump lashed out at campaign manager after polls showed him trailing Biden

In this image, Trump sits at a table
President Trump meets with industry executives at the White House on April 29. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump erupted on a phone call last week with campaign manager Brad Parscale after being presented with polls that showed former Vice President Joe Biden beating him in several key states, CNN first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Driving the news: Swing-state polls from this week show Biden pulling ahead in Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, indicating that the presumptive Democratic nominee has benefited from remaining out of the public eye.

  • Gallup has found that Trump's approval rating has taken its sharpest dip to date since he took office.
  • And Pew Research reports that about 65% of Americans believe the president was too slow to take major steps to handle the threat of the coronavirus.

The big picture: Trump demanded on the call to know how his campaign, which is sitting on a massive fundraising war chest and sprawling digital operation, is polling behind a candidate that he views as weak.

  • Trump insisted to Parscale that the polling data was wrong and blamed him for the state of the race. According to the New York Times, the president at one point threatened to sue Parscale, though the threat did not appear to be serious.

What he's saying: Trump told Reuters in an interview published later Wednesday he didn't think the election would be a referendum on his leadership during the pandemic, but it would be "a referendum on all the things we’ve done and certainly this will be a part of it, but we’ve done a great job."

"I don’t believe the polls. I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent."
— Trump's remarks to Reuters
  • Trump tweeted early Thursday that he thought Parscale was "doing a great job." "I never shouted at him (been with me for years, including the 2016 win), & have no intention to do so,” he added.

The bottom line: Axios' Jonathan Swan reported last week that a number of Trump's most trusted advisers — both inside and outside the White House — have urged him to stop doing marathon televised briefings, believing his ratings have suffered from overexposure.

Go deeper: Trump aides eye benefits of Biden's low profile

Editor's note: This article has been updated with Trump's comments.

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