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Screenshot from CNN

No president in our lifetime has enjoyed a more mesmerizing, seemingly unbendable hold on his political base than Donald Trump. He shifts their views on big topics like the FBI or Vladimir Putin and retains their support regardless of what he says or does.

Why it matters: This connection is turning fast into a liability for Trump and the entire GOP because the president and his mostly white, mostly male base are on the opposite side of most Americans on the epic topics of our day — wearing masks, combating the coronavirus, and condemning racial inequality and police brutality.

  • They are now basically egging each other on. 

President Trump this morning retweeted (then deleted) a video of a man in a golf cart with a "TRUMP 2020" sign who yelled "white power!" at Trump critics.

  • Trump added the note: "Thank you to the great people of The Villages," a retirement community in Florida. "The Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats will Fall in the Fall."
  • White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere told reporters: "President Trump is a big fan of The Villages. He did not hear the one statement made on the video. What he did see was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters."
  • The White House did not respond when asked whether Trump condemned the supporter’s comment.

When the tweet was still up, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the only Black Republican senator, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union":

  • "[Y]ou can't play it because it was so profanity laced. The entire thing was offensive. ... I think it's indefensible."

The context: Advisers both inside and outside the White House have urged the president to tone down his violent rhetoric, which many worry could escalate racial tensions and hurt him politically, Jonathan Swan reported.

The big picture: Top Republicans have told us for five years that Trump’s base will ultimately cost the party power.

  • The nation is growing too diverse and too progressive.
  • These Republicans warned that tough-guy, noninclusive action and talk would backfire — first with minorities, then with educated white people.

The polls suggest strongly this is unfolding in real time.

  • In addition to the N.Y. Times polls above, which showed Joe Biden with strong leads in the six top battlegrounds (subscription), the Fox News poll this week showed Biden up 9 points in Florida, and tossups in Georgia and Texas — Republican strongholds — and North Carolina.

Between the lines: N.Y. Times columnist Ross Douthat writes (subscription): "[W]hat was likely to be a slow-motion leftward shift, as the less-married, less-religious, more ethnically diverse younger generation gained more power, is being accelerated nationally by the catastrophes of the Trump administration, which is putting states in play for Democrats five or 10 years early."

The response: Tim Murtaugh, Trump campaign communications director, told me:

  • "This election, like all elections, will be a choice. In this case, a choice of President Trump’s record of building the best economy anyone has ever seen with the experience to do it again, versus Joe Biden’s record. ... With four months to go before the election, Americans will understand these differences. ... They won’t want to take a chance on Joe Biden."
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Go deeper

White House coronavirus outbreak reaches the press corps

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

White House reporters are increasingly anxious and angry about the Trump administration's handling of COVID-19 cases within its own building.

State of play: Several White House reporters have tested positive and many are trying to figure out whether they and their families need to quarantine.

Updated Oct 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trumpworld coronavirus tracker

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

An outbreak of COVID-19 has struck the White House — including the president himself — just weeks before the 2020 election.

Why it matters: If the president can get infected, anyone can. And the scramble to figure out the scope of this outbreak is a high-profile, high-stakes microcosm of America's larger failures to contain the virus and to stand up a contact-tracing system that can respond to new cases before they have a chance to become outbreaks.

Biden's next move

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Biden campaign’s new plan after Trump’s diagnosis is the old plan, sources tell Axios: Protect the candidate. Stay the course. No mistakes.

What to watch: Biden and Harris still plan to fly to Arizona on Thursday, but they're traveling from different locations on separate planes. Biden will head to South Florida for an MSNBC town hall on Monday.