What Are Trump’s Plans for Reviving His Failing Campaign?

Meaner nicknames for Biden and a partisan fight over the Supreme Court are under consideration.

Things continue to go downhill for Donald Trump and the GOP heading into November. At the top of the list for most voters is the recent spike in the spread of the coronavirus across the country. But the president’s prevarications on the intelligence about Russia putting out a bounty on U.S. troops is taking a toll as well. For example, take look at this devastating video from the Lincoln Project.

While polls continue to show Biden maintaining a double-digit lead in the presidential race, Democrats also have a nine-point advantage in the generic ballot, indicating that voters prefer a Democratic congress by a margin larger than the one that led to a blue wave in 2018.

The Republican groundswell against Trump continues to grow with a group named “43 Alumni for Biden” set to launch on Wednesday.

Hundreds of officials who worked for former Republican President George W. Bush are set to endorse Democratic White House hopeful Joe Biden, people involved in the effort said, the latest Republican-led group coming out to oppose the re-election of Donald Trump.

The officials, who include Cabinet secretaries and other senior people in the Bush administration, have formed a political action committee – 43 Alumni for Biden – to support the former vice president in his Nov. 3 race, three organizers of the group told Reuters.

With four months to go before the votes are counted, it has become clear that the president will need a herculean effort to counter those headwinds. His situation is unprecedented because no incumbent has ever trailed by this much at this point in an election cycle. So what are Trump’s plans for a comeback? According to reporters at the Washington Post, here are a few things that are being considered.

  1. Remain in denial about the polls
  2. Launch a shake-up of campaign staff
  3. Deploy a campaign message about Trump as a builder (ie, “he’s building a wall”)
  4. Push a “renew, restore, rebuild” theme about the economy (as the pandemic continues to rage)

But there is one idea that is quintessentially Trumpian.

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 president is not convinced that “Sleepy Joe” is particularly damaging, and some of his advisers agree and have urged him to stop using the nickname. In a tweet on Sunday, Trump tried out yet another variant: “Corrupt Joe.”

In the midst of all that is going on in the country right now, this president thinks that coming up with the meanest nickname for his opponent is critical. I guess it goes without saying that developing a platform for how Trump would govern during a second term is completely off the table.

With the recent Supreme Court decisions on LGBT rights, DACA, and abortion, Trump seems to have come up with another idea about how to stir up the race.

President Donald Trump has begun to raise both publicly and privately the potential boon another nomination to the panel this year might provide.

It’s an alluring prospect Trump believes could galvanize both his loyal base but also provide an opportunity to improve his standing among those voters whose support he is now hemorrhaging, people familiar with Trump’s thinking said.

Since we can count on Breyer, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, and Kagan to remain as long as possible, the speculation has turned to the possibility of either Thomas or Alito retiring. Right now, the focus is on the latter.

We already know that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was pressuring federal judges who were close to retirement to do so early, so it is not inconceivable that similar pressure could be used with Thomas and Alito. But such a move could backfire. We would all be reminded of the fact that Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, almost nine months before the presidential election. McConnell wouldn’t even allow hearings on Obama’s nominee, saying that a replacement should wait until after the election. If a sitting justice was to retire just a couple of months before the election, McConnell has already made it clear that he’ll have no shame in flipping that entire script for partisan purposes. But he will expose his hypocrisy in a way that will be obvious for all to see.

One thing that Trump and McConnell have in common is that they both embrace the idea of playing dirty politics in the gutter. So I wouldn’t put it past them to assume that an ugly partisan fight over the Supreme Court is just the ticket for improving their odds in November. But with voters already exhausted by the chaos that has engulfed the country during Trump’s presidency, I’m not so sure that would be a good move.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.