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