Nov 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trumpworld rages behind the scenes

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Senior White House and Trump campaign officials are complaining bitterly about poor internal communication, blaming colleagues, pondering what jobs they might try to get next year, and lashing out at their new enemy: Fox News. 

The state of play: Aides told Axios they're dreading the prospect of Fox calling Pennsylvania for Joe Biden, which could make the conservative network the first to give Biden 270 electoral votes.

  • A Trump campaign official said the internal view was that it's essential to keep the race "optically" alive, and that if Fox were to call it, it would severely harm their efforts to support President Trump's (false) claims that he'd already won.

The incandescent anger at Fox within Trumpworld is hard to overstate:

  • Trump's advisers remain furious at Fox’s decision desk for its early call of Arizona for Biden, which was seconded by AP. Trump advisers have been unsuccessfully lobbying their contacts at the network to retract the call.
  • Fox hasn't budged. A graphic during news coverage last evening by lead election anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum: "FOX DECISION DESK STANDS BEHIND DECISION TO CALL ARIZONA FOR BIDEN."

Trump advisers are also venting at what they describe as a grossly incompetent post-Election Day operation. "I don't know what the message is," said one prominent surrogate who regularly appears on cable to defend Trump:

  • "There’s no organization or coordination. If I was to go on TV right now, I wouldn't know what the [blank] to say."
  • The source said that Trump surrogates, in the absence of official messaging and direction, have been sharing amongst themselves a tweet thread from Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberly Strassel, who wrote: "Transparency is good. Will raise confidence in outcome."

A senior administration official said: "When Bush had this issue they tapped arguably the pre-eminent statesman of his generation, James Baker, to spearhead their legal and PR efforts, to great effect. ... We rolled out Rudy Giuliani, Corey Lewandowski and Pam Bondi. You can draw your own conclusions."

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