Articles

Trump Has No Time Left to Spare

October 15, 2020
3cc0206620a21943a4c1eaa4b770910f

The 2020 campaign has entered its stretch run. Though early voting just began, at least 14.9 million people have already cast a ballot. This points to an election turnout that will eclipse 2016’s total of 138 million votes.

President Trump is now trailing nationally by double digits in public polls. Fresh off recovering from coronavirus, he returned to the trail Monday with a rally in Sanford, Fla.

In a campaign that has often veered toward the dark side, Mr. Trump was a happy warrior that night, displaying energy and pizazz. He clearly enjoyed bathing in his supporters’ adoration and even briefly danced to the Village People’s “YMCA” as the rally wrapped up. It was as if he understood, at least for one night, that Americans want to support someone who thinks he’s got a real chance and is fighting through to victory.

His attacks on his Democratic rival, former vice president Joe Biden, were delivered with a smile and received with laughter by the cheering crowd. Mr. Trump was more focused than usual, dwelling on differences over tax cuts, China, energy and the Supreme Court. He also made his first sustained effort to call out Mr. Biden for Monday-morning quarterbacking on Covid-19. Mr. Trump’s discipline likely caused his staff to hope he’ll now reprise the decisive closing weeks of 2016, when he mostly stayed on script.

Closing the gap won’t be easy. Mr. Trump must prosecute the differences between Mr. Biden’s very liberal statements during the primary (e.g., “We are going to get rid of fossil fuels” and “I’m going to eliminate the Trump tax cuts”) and his attempts now to make those comments disappear. Team Trump has done too little of that so far. The president is a showman; he should be able to drive this home. For example, he could highlight problematic Biden statements by playing videos of them on a giant screen at his rallies.

The president must close on his strength—the economy—on which people trust him more than they do Mr. Biden. Gallup recently asked Americans if they are better off today than four years ago. An astonishing 56% said yes, despite the pandemic and recession. By comparison, 45% said yes as President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election came to a close and 47% at this point in President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign.

As for Mr. Biden, he continues playing the prevent defense, trying to avoid saying anything memorable as he flies to battleground states to meet with important subgroups of the electorate. But a location and a group are not a message. Nor are ads a substitute for one.

Mr. Biden’s spots are omnipresent on television in battleground states, the result of a fundraising machine that generates money almost as fast a Democratic Congress would spend it. Team Biden has bought far more 60-second ads than any presidential campaign in history, evidence it has more money than it knows what to do with. Minute-long ads cost much more than twice as much as 30-second spots.

The ads consist mostly of gauzy footage of Mr. Biden promising normalcy or attacks on Mr. Trump that are often fanciful or have been awarded “Four Pinocchios” by liberal newspaper fact-checkers.

Read more at WSJ.com

Related Article

2296f63364717155a9b99d1a2f7af53b
October 08, 2020 |
Article
If next week’s presidential debate occurs, it’ll likely be a doozy.  ...
070a40baf83423939f1dd7032242f0a0
October 01, 2020 |
Article
Well, that was different—really different. We’ve never seen anything quite like it ...
51d6dd2df6da1d2dcfe94cc05ad743fd
September 24, 2020 |
Article
On Tuesday night, President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden will arrive on the health-education campus of Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic to begin the first presidential debate of the general election. ...
98b861ffa61c343cb98f37615556357d
September 17, 2020 |
Article
The presidential contest is the most important, but hardly the only critical battle this fall.  ...
Button karlsbooks
Button readinglist
Button nextapperance