Trump campaign
June 29, 2020

There's a divide in President Trump's re-election effort between advisers and allies who see the polling and are pushing for a major overhaul of the campaign, and those, including campaign manager Brad Parscale, who argue that the polls aren't as bad as they look and insist Trump's base is enthusiastically in line, The Washington Post reports. "And then there's Trump himself, who has derailed his team's desired themes on an almost daily basis — deploying racist rhetoric and mounting incendiary attacks on critics amid a surging coronavirus pandemic, an economic crisis, and roiling protests over police brutality."

"You can't win with these numbers. They're atrocious numbers," Ed Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump super PAC Great America, told the Post. "He's got to go out and add 10 points pretty quick. If he can do that, he'll win. If not, [Joe] Biden is sitting there as the alternative." Another person close to Trump told the Post that "if the election was today, we are in big trouble," but "thankfully, it is not."

Parscale replied, "We know we are in solid shape in all of our key states, and no amount of fake, narrative-setting media polls can ever change that." Many Trump allies, similarly skeptical of public polling, "say the internal polling and modeling they're sharing with the president is less grim than the public surveys," the Post reports. Trump himself has been telling allies he believes his hard line on statue vandals will work to his political advantage and says "10 points" should be added to his numbers, two people who spoke with Trump this week told the Post.

Advisers at least agree it's urgent for the campaign to make the race a choice between Trump and Biden, not a referendum on the incumbent. "Trump has recently been asking advisers whether he should stick with his current nickname for Biden — 'Sleepy Joe' — or try to coin another moniker, such as 'Swampy Joe' or 'Creepy Joe,'" the Post reports. "In a tweet on Sunday, Trump tried out yet another variant: 'Corrupt Joe.'"

For his part, Biden is comparing Trump's reaction to the multiple crises to "a child who can't believe this has happened to him." The COVID-19 pandemic "didn't happen to him," Biden said in Philadelphia on Thursday. "It happened to all of us. And his job isn't to whine about it. His job is to do something about it, to lead." Peter Weber

June 23, 2020

President Trump's lightly attended Tulsa campaign rally fell so far short of the campaign's own metrics that even as spin-happy a place as the White House was hard-pressed to find good things to say about it. "As always with Trump, he's already looking for someone to blame," Gabriel Sherman reports at Vanity Fair. "The most obvious candidate, according to sources, is his embattled campaign manager, Brad Parscale." Trump associates, staff, and allies also directed blame at Michael Glassner, the campaign's chief operating officer, The Daily Beast adds.

The rally "was a disaster and I think the reality is that it's not a good way to start a general election campaign," Ed Rollins, the veteran GOP strategist who leads the pro-Trump group Great America PAC, told The Daily Beast. Trump himself was "rambling" and had "no message" but he should also "get a campaign manager who is running a campaign, not companies outside of it," Rollins added. "My sense is [Parscale's] making way too much money," and "something is not working and something has to change." A Republican close to the White House was less polite, telling Vanity Fair, "Brad really sh-t the bed Saturday night."

Trump adviser Jason Miller told Sherman that Parscale's job is secure, and The Daily Beast reports that both Parscale and Glassner's jobs were safe "as of Monday," but Trump has "suggested there would be major consequences for campaign staff if this wasn't 'fixed' and if he saw too many empty seats at his next coronavirus-era mega-rally." Sherman's sources say Parscale may not wait for the ax to fall. "He knows he can't survive," one source said.

The Tulsa imbroglio isn't the only problem besetting the Trump campaign — the president's poll numbers are dropping, and Democratic rival Joe Biden raised more money and, more importantly, more small-dollar contributions last month, The Daily Beast details. Trump also blames Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and shadow campaign chief, Vanity Fair reports, and among those under consideration to replace Parscale are three 2016 staffers Kushner sidelined: Miller, David Bossie, and Trump's first campaign manger Corey Lewandowski. A person close to Trump poured a cold Slurpee on the Lewandowsi suggestion, though: "Corey was great when it was just Trump and an airplane. But let's face it, he couldn't manage a 7-Eleven." Peter Weber

June 11, 2019

President Trump formally kicks off his re-election campaign next week. So far, he's shown scattered interest in the effort, insisting "on having final approval over the songs on his campaign playlist, as well as the campaign merchandise," but showing little interest in campaign spending or coming up with a new campaign theme, The New York Times reports. He does care about his approval ratings, though, and how he fares in matchups against various top Democrats, especially Joe Biden.

"Biden seems to have gotten into the president's head — at least for now," the Times reports, and his campaign is using that obsession to "invigorate a candidate who needs an identifiable opponent to keep his interest and who has been alternately engrossed in and detached from his re-election effort." One internal poll certainly captured Trump's attention, the Times says.

After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well. [The New York Times]

Campaign manager Brad Parscale did just that, insisting that the numbers showing Trump losing Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin were "selectively leaked information" based on "a subset of questions asked." Trump doesn't yet have a chief political strategist, the Times reports, and Fabrizio's "blunt approach is not always welcome by a candidate who prefers good news and can take a shoot-the-messenger approach to receiving information he does not like." Read more about Trump's Biden strategy at The New York Times. Peter Weber

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