Reprinted with permission from Alternet.
Politically, a lot could happen between now and November, when voters in the United States will either reelect President Donald Trump or vote him out of office and replace him with former Vice President Joe Biden (the presumptive Democratic nominee). But if recent polls that show Trump trailing Biden in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Michigan are any indication, Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic is damaging his shot at winning a second term. And according to Politico's Nancy Cook, Republican donors and advisers are growing increasingly worried about Biden's momentum.
"With only five months until the November general election, several Trump advisers, campaign veterans and prominent Republicans see the Trump campaign's efforts to define and damage former Vice President Joe Biden falling short," Cook reports. "These Trump supporters worry the campaign's myriad lines of attack on Biden this spring — from his age to his work with China as vice president to the Obama economic record — are failing to dent the presumptive Democratic nominee."Right-wing groups and pro-Trump donors and advisers, according to Cook, "want the Trump campaign to dramatically ramp up its efforts to tear down and pigeonhole Biden — much the way former President Barack Obama cast Mitt Romney as a plutocrat during the 2012 campaign, a framing from which Romney was never able to escape."
A GOP source described by Cook as someone "close to the White House" told Politico, "Take the gloves off and put him away. If you have the cash advantage and you have all of June, why are you not burying him?"
It isn't as though Trump and other Republicans haven't been attacking Biden, from describing him as "Sleepy Joe" to linking him to the ridiculous "Obamagate" conspiracy theory to describing him as favorable to the authoritarian government in China (which Trump was praising back in January and February). But according to Cook's sources, the lines of attack aren't working so far.A former official from Trump's 2016 campaign, seemingly interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Politico, "Listen, the American voters remember Biden as the happy grandfather during the Obama presidency. The more you can do to imprint a damaging impression of Biden heading into the fall, the better off the Trump campaign will be."
Another source, described by Cook as someone "close to the White House," told Politico that Trump's campaign has "not coalesced around the best message to attack Biden, and the message that Biden is diminished doesn't scare people enough. A lot of Americans just don't want the government to screw things up."
One should never underestimate the GOP's ability to successfully sell snake oil to American voters. The GOP has bounced back from everything from Herbert Hoover's presidency and the 1929 crash to Watergate to Iran/Contra to the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush. Moreover, Republicans have an especially nasty weapon in their arsenal: voter suppression — and they're great at using it in African-American and Latino areas that are more likely to vote Democrat.
Nonetheless, recent polls have been encouraging for Biden's campaign. For example, recent polls from Firehouse Strategies/0ptimus and Quinnipiac University have found Biden leading Trump by 11 percent And a recent Fox News poll found Biden ahead by eight percent. None of that is to say that U.S. voters will feel that same way in November, but T.J. Ducklo, national press secretary for Biden's campaign, is optimistic.
Ducklo told Politico, "Donald Trump has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Joe Biden since the day he entered the race, using recycled nicknames, outright lies and even disinformation to try and brand him as something he's not. It failed miserably: VP Biden saw record turnout during sweeping victories this spring and united the Democratic Party around a nominee faster than in 2016 or 2008. Why? Because voters know Joe Biden, they know his character — and it's going to take more than cheap marketing tricks perfected at Trump University to bring down a true public servant who has fought for middle class families for over 45 years."