President Donald Trump may strike a confident pose, but some of his top aides are in a state of panic about the 2020 election.
Shrinking from underwhelming polls, top aides to the president agreed at a private huddle last week that Trump needs to shift his campaign message, Axios reported.
Trump aides fret over 2020 message
While President Trump has confidently projected victory against presumptive Democratic nominee “Sleepy Joe” Biden, some in Trump’s circle worry that the president is losing ground: recent polling has shown Trump trailing Biden, including in key battleground states, and a source told Axios that internal polling from the campaign is “brutal.”
At a private campaign huddle last week, top aides reportedly agreed that Trump should focus on a theme of recovery and revival after America’s devastating bout with the coronavirus, the subsequent economic shutdown, and race riots that have put the nation on edge.
Aides also expressed concern that Trump is pitching too closely to the “red-MAGA-hat base” and not doing enough to appeal to independent and black voters, Axios noted. Whereas Joe Biden has sided decisively with protesters demanding police reforms — and presenting himself as a “unifier” and “healer,” according to TIME magazine — President Trump has called for “law and order” to be established, with military force if necessary.
Trump should soften some of that rhetoric and focus more on criminal justice reform, aides told Axios.
“He has to tone down the most incendiary rhetoric, talk about law and order in the context of riots, and at the same time say the country’s united that what happened to George Floyd can never happen again,” an adviser reportedly said.
Biden avoids a trap
At any rate, it seems unlikely that Trump will be persuaded to follow any formula that rubs against his instincts, and Trump has continued to sharpen his rhetoric, contrasting his approach with calls on the left to “defund the police.”
LAW & ORDER, NOT DEFUND AND ABOLISH THE POLICE. The Radical Left Democrats have gone Crazy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 8, 2020
Biden, who has lost support from police unions for pushing too aggressively for police reform, wisely avoided falling into a trap Monday by, according to the New York Post, rejecting calls to defund the police, which have gained more attention in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests.
Despite the fretting from Trump aides, polls have shown that a majority of Americans favor sending in the military to quell unrest, ABC News reported, and some, like Fox News host Tucker Carlson, argue that a focus on criminal justice reform — a pet project of senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner’s — over “law and order” is misleading.
Of course, as Trump insists, the polls weren’t right last time — and a lot can change in five months.