“Many Republican advisors are frustrated because we want the president’s campaign to be focused on the economy,” said David Kochel, a Republican strategist in Iowa. “Their best message is: Trump has built a great economy” and Covid-19 has hurt it, and Mr. Trump is a better option than Mr. Biden to restore it, he said.
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“Our base loves things about Hunter Biden, laptops, and Mayor Giuliani,” added Kochel. “But they are already voting for Trump.”
Before Trump’s shocked victory in 2016, his campaign also mixed public bragging with private anxiety about the apparent likelihood of defeat. But then, unlike now, Trump ended the race with a jackhammer message attacking Hillary Clinton as a corrupt insider and promising sweeping economic changes – a much clearer topic than he offers today.
Mr. Stepien and other campaign leaders, including Jason Miller, a senior strategist, have stressed to Republicans in Washington that they expect to outperform public polls. They say their own data suggests a closer run in a number of states, including Arizona and Pennsylvania, than polls conducted by press organizations. They bet that the voter registration and turnout mechanism that Trump’s team has built over the past four years will eventually give them an edge in tightly divided states on election day.
However, some prominent Republicans have noted in recently direct language the possibility – and even the likelihood – of a defeat for the president. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally, said this week that Democrats have a “good chance of winning the White House,” while Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said his party could face a “bathroom. of blood”.
While Trump’s fear of retaliation has muzzled most party members, strategists are deeply concerned that Trump may spend the final weeks of the campaign entertaining and energizing his current supporters while avoiding any concerted effort to find new ones. – such an approach could paralyze other Republicans running for elections.
Ken Spain, a Republican strategist, said that Mr. Trump “was not delivering a coherent message at the most critical moment of the campaign.”