2020 in hindsight
Former President Donald Trump apparently had his limits when it came to attacking his political rivals.
Throughout the 2020 campaign season, Trump had the final say over which campaign ads made it onto the air and which were tossed out. He made those decisions at regular White House viewing sessions, where his top White House aides and campaign officials would gather to laugh at and workshop ads, including some too "out there" even for the former president, Axios reports.
A few times a month, former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale would bring his laptop to the White House and sit "so close" to Trump that it sometimes "bothered" him, a source tells Axios. Parscale would then play through a reel of campaign ads, including many inspired by "young, pro-Trump fans who sent their ideas" to him, Axios continues. One targeted CNN's Don Lemon and his coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests, while another showed President Biden coughing to allege he was unwell, a source said. Trump would often "burst out laughing" at some of the wilder spots, but then conclude they were too "brutal" or "weren't worth the backlash" he'd get, the source told Axios.
One subject Trump particularly avoided was Biden's inappropriate touching of women, Axios reports. At one point, Trump's campaign drew up an ad featuring clips of women who'd accused Biden of inappropriate contact, and then finished with a clip of Vice President Kamala Harris declaring "I know a predator when I see one." But as one source close to the campaign said, "He never wanted to run the predator or women's-style ads against Biden, because he was afraid he was going to open up his own can of worms." Read more about Trump's campaign ad critiques at Axios.