Jun 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What the Trump campaign has planned for Biden this week


Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Recent polls have been brutal for President Trump. He trails Joe Biden by almost 10 points nationally and is behind in nearly every battleground state. His support among independents has fallen amid his handling of the recent protests. And women currently favor Biden over Trump by a margin bigger than in any presidential contest in modern history.

Yes, but: It's only June, and Trump's advisers point to several reasons for hope. Voters still trust him more than Biden to handle the economy. Biden has weaker support than Hillary Clinton did among Hispanic voters. And, as CNN's Harry Enten writes, Trump's supporters "are much more enthusiastic about voting for their candidate than Biden's supporters are voting for theirs."

Trump wants to run as the candidate of "law and order." But one reason Trump 2020 is not analogous to Richard Nixon's 1968 campaign — based on the same theme — is that Nixon wasn't president while he exploited fear of violence in American cities during that volatile year. Nixon was campaigning against a chaos for which voters could not conceivably hold him responsible.

  • Trump, however, leads a nation roiled by protests and bursts of looting and violence. Trump's aides say he needs to paint a picture of what a Biden presidency would look like. So, naturally, he grabs onto what he considers the most unappealing excesses of the left and tries to brand Biden with these images.
  • That's why Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller calls the Seattle Autonomous Zone a "Biden Zone." The message: "This is what all of our cities will look like if Joe Biden gets elected."

Trump is already road-testing a tactic that advisers plan to use on nearly every issue that arises between now and November. When Biden hits him on an issue, Trump has a go-to rejoinder: What did Biden do to fix that problem during his 36 years in the Senate and his eight years as vice president?

  • The message they're trying to convey to voters: You can't be a change candidate when you've been part of a failed Washington establishment for more than 40 years.

The Biden campaign's response: "As he exacerbates crisis after crisis, Trump has stepped on his own message so much that he no longer even has one," said Andrew Bates, Biden's director of rapid response.

  • "Any politician who tear-gasses Americans peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights for a cynical photo-op, who defiles the Department of Justice by treating it as an extension of his re-election campaign, and who has leached untold millions off of taxpayers into his own pocket while still refusing to show them his own tax returns has no business saying that he stands for either 'law' or 'order.'"
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