Oct 3, 2018

Trump's 2020 dreams

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump is increasingly fantasizing in public and private about his 2020 campaign, using midterm rallies to talk as excitedly about his own re-election in 2020 as he does about the 2018 races that are just 34 days away.

What he's saying: Last night in Mississippi, he even promised "we will do a landslide" in 2020, after a razor-thin electoral victory (and substantial popular vote loss) in 2016. "Who the hell’s gonna beat us? Look! Who's going to beat us?" Trump asked, after amping up his frequent riff about former Vice President Joe Biden as a lightweight he'd love to crush.

A former aide told us: "The greatest moment in Donald Trump’s life was when Hillary Clinton called and conceded the 2016 election. Nothing about actually being the president has ever lived up to that."

  • "It was the ultimate validation for someone who’s been searching for it his whole life," the former aide continued. "That’s why he relives it constantly in conversations and during rallies. So it’s no surprise that he wants to reach that validation high again, which is why 2020 is never far from his mind."

Behind the scenes, Trump has been talking quite a bit about 2020 — not in terms of strategy or tactics, but in a disorganized, riffing way, based on whatever or whomever is in the news.

  • The potential candidate he talks about most: Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. "He seems to think she’s going to be the nominee," one source said.
  • Advisers have told Trump he’d be in great shape if she is.
  • Trump has made fun of Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey ("Spartacus") and Sen. Kamala Harris of California after watching the Kavanaugh hearings.
  • Trump thinks "Crazy Bernie" Sanders is talented — he respects that the senator from Vermont fires people up and built a movement. The president thinks Bernie tried to do what he did in 2016, but didn’t quite get there.
  • Trump has mused in private about Mike Bloomberg. At the end of an August interview with Bloomberg News, Trump told the journalists: "Say hello to Michael."
  • Trump says Oprah will never run. “Everyone loves her and the minute you run for president, that changes,” says Trump — who would know.

If Trump is worried about any candidate in particular, it's not apparent to sources close to him.

  • Biden seems to be the potential opponent Trump's staff worries about most.
  • Advisers worry he’ll steal Trump voters from the Midwest, and cut into the president's dominance among white men and whites without college degrees.
  • But Trump genuinely doesn’t appear to his aides to be worried about Biden. As onstage, Trump says Biden is a joke — and claims that once the spotlight is on him, "bad stuff" will come out.

Go deeper

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Coronavirus antibody tests are still relatively unreliable, and it's unclear if people who get the virus are immune to getting it again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned on Tuesday.

By the numbers: More than 98,900 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 384,900 Americans have recovered and more than 14.9 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Mexico reported its highest single-day death toll on Tuesday, after 501 people died from the coronavirus, per data from Johns Hopkins and the country's health ministry.

By the numbers: Almost 5.5 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, and more than 2.2 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 5,588,299 — Total deaths: 350,417 — Total recoveries — 2,286,827Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 1,680,625 — Total deaths: 98,902 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 57 mins ago - Politics & Policy