As Other Democratic Candidates Close In On Biden, Trump Tries To ‘Soften Up The Front-Runner’

Democratic White House front-runner Joe Biden has slipped in the polls, but President Donald Trump has only intensified his attempts to discredit and disqualify the former vice president.

In the last five days alone, the president has dubbed his potential 2020 rival “sleepy” and “a reclamation project,” suggesting in one tweet that “some things are just not salvageable.” He has asserted that China and other countries are “begging” for a President Biden so they can get back to trade tactics that “ripped us off for years.”

Trump has also alleged that as a Delaware senator and vice president, Biden — whose late son Beau Biden served in Iraq as an officer in the Delaware Army National guard and who ends his speeches with some version of the words “May God protect our troops” — “deserted our military, our law enforcement and our health care.”

It appears Trump smells blood in the political waters.

And that’s because Biden — who regularly attacks the president as a threat to America’s democracy and values — has dropped in several polls since a rocky performance in the Democratic presidential debate last month. He has since admitted to being unprepared for a broadside from California Sen. Kamala Harris over his past opposition to federally mandated busing and his comments about working with segregationists on legislation early in his Senate career.

GOP strategist Ford O’Connell said Trump and his campaign team are focusing on Biden because when it comes to the voters the president needs to win a second term, they find Biden harder to disqualify than the other Democrats.

“That’s seniors, that’s working-class whites, that’s Cubans and conservative Hispanics, and that’s suburban females. Joe Biden has the most potential to perform well with each of those groups,” said O’Connell, also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. “When you look at what the president’s doing, it makes perfect sense through that particular lens. … He’s trying to soften up the front-runner so the other Democratic candidates can take him down.”

A senior White House official did not dismiss that description of the president’s tactics when approached on Wednesday.

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call

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Trump Struggles Against Democrats, But Deep Pockets, Booming Economy Bode Well For Him

Though U.S. President Donald Trump is lagging behind in current match-up polls against leading Democratic presidential candidates, U.S. experts said several factors, including Trump's incumbency and a booming U.S. economy, bode well for his re-election.

In this year's second quarter alone, Trump has raised 100 million U.S. dollars -- a massive cash infusion that will go a long way to help his campaign.

No single Democratic candidate has come close to the amount Trump has raised. In the second quarter, Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg raked in nearly 25 million dollars; former Vice President and current candidate Joe Biden raised 21.5 million dollars; and candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris raised a combined nearly 50 million dollars.

"It shows you that Republican support for Trump is (high), but also that being an incumbent has its privileges," Republican strategist and TV news personality Ford O'Connell told Xinhua.

"You are the only game in town and you get to raise money," O'Connell added.

According to Real Clear Politics' average of the latest polls, Trump trails Democratic front runner Biden by 6 points. He also lags behind Harris and the self-avowed socialist candidate and former contender for the Democratic ticket, Bernie Sanders, by 2 points respectively.

But according to O'Connell, U.S. media and anti-Trump forces are getting ahead of themselves.

Heading into the 2020 elections, one of Trump's primary strengths remains his incumbency, experts argued, pointing out that since the year 1900, nearly 80 percent of incumbent presidents have been re-elected.

O'Connell said history also shows that early polling does not always predict elections. He noted that in June 1983, eventual Democratic nominee Walter Mondale was leading President Ronald Reagan, but that Reagan ultimately won the election. Also in June 2011, a Republican presidential candidate was leading then President Barack Obama by 5 points, but Obama won in 2012.

Meanwhile, experts noted that for U.S. voters, the economy matters in most presidential elections and since the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt during WWII, every incumbent president who has avoided a recession in the run-up to the election ended up winning.

At least for now, there is no serious talk of a recession in the United States.

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Trump Is Shutting Up About Coal. It’s Because He Needs Florida.

President Donald Trump loves to tout his support of “beautiful, clean coal.” Or at least he used to. He didn’t mention it once during his speech on the administration’s environmental record Monday.

In the speech Trump gave to highlight his environmental record, he finally acknowledged climate change, although not directly. The president talked about emissions — but never mentioned the words “climate change.” The address reportedly came after some of his close advisers worried the president’s record on the environment would hurt his shot at re-election.

Not only have GOP voters become increasingly invested in solutions to climate change, but global warming and climate action have impacted states that Trump hopes to carry in 2020. He made clear, too, that he’ll focus his efforts on one in particular.

“In some ways you could be arguing that Trump’s re-election campaign is really a Florida-first strategy,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican campaign strategist who worked on the McCain-Palin campaign. “It’s the crown jewel of his entire electoral strategy.

“Essentially when you look at the voters, he needs to recapture to win the White House in 2020 — seniors, working class whites, Cubans, conservative hispanics, and some suburban females,” O’Connell added, “Guess where they all are located?”

During his speech, Trump spoke alongside Bruce Hrobak, the owner of a bait-and-tackle shop in Port St. Lucie, Florida, who claimed that Trump’s policies to curb red tides — toxic algae blooms off the Florida coast — had saved his business. Fertilizer runoff catalyzes the blooms, but warmer waters that come with a warmer climate make them harder to reign in. In March, Trump reversed course and announced his support to fund restoration of the Everglades that would help.

Read more from Alex Lubben at Vice News

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Trump 2020 Campaign Will Attack Biden's Senate Record, Not His Time As Obama's VP

President Trump’s 2020 campaign will seize on Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe Biden’s mixed Senate record rather than his eight years as Barack Obama’s right-hand man.

The re-election campaign has been figuring out how – if Biden snatches the Democratic Party’s nomination – to respond to Biden’s candidacy that enjoys some protection among some voters due to nostalgia for the Obama years.

But Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell, who works closely with the White House, told the Washington Times that the Trump campaign will attack Biden’s six-term record as a U.S. senator from Delaware.

“He’s got an Obama card he can play, but the problem is the 36 years of baggage before Obama. That’s the ticket in terms of getting him,” the strategist said.

The heated exchange during a debate last month between Sen. Kamala Harris and Biden over the issue of federally mandated busing, a measure Biden opposed it during his Senate years -- which also meant he had found a common cause with segregationist Democrats -- may be a blueprint how to damage Biden’s credibility in the eyes of the electorate.

Harris surged among voters after her stellar debate performance, in which she challenged Biden to apologize for opposing federally mandated busing as part of the broader desegregation effort.

Among other issues that could damage Biden is his support for the 1994 crime bill that greatly increased incarceration of African-Americans and is now widely agreed as having had a detrimental effect on the communities.

Read more from  Lukas Mikelionis at Fox News

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Why Trump Has Reason For Optimism In 2020

President Trump is rolling into a post-Independence Day weekend at his Bedminster, N.J., property with reason to feel good about himself and his reelection prospects for 2020.

A number of things are going Trump’s way, leaving him better positioned for victory in a second term.

The first is the economy, which is showing little sign of slowing down.

Top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday that the recent stock rally and strong jobs report proved that Trump's policies have fueled "a very strong prosperity cycle."

All of this is good news for an incumbent president.

As GOP strategist Ford O’Connell wrote in The Hill this week, the power of incumbency is already a huge predictor. Only a handful of presidents running for reelection have lost since 1900. The number who have lost while managing a strong economy are fewer.

It’s no wonder Trump was in a good mood on Friday. 

The second good thing going for Trump is the divisive Democratic presidential primary. 

The White House clearly fears former Vice President Joe Biden, a centrist seen as a strong potential nominee in the swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which Trump took from Democrats in 2016.

Similarly, they are delighted to see Democrats talking about providing health care to immigrants who are in the country illegally, seeing it as an issue that will motivate Trump voters to go to the polls and one that could lose Democrats the support of independents.

Read more from Ian Swanson, Sylvan Lane and Julia Manchester

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Trump Delivers Unifying July 4 Message, But Few See It Helping Reelection

President Donald Trump was more a measured statesman than political streetfighter Thursday during his much-anticipated Independence Day address. But expectations are low that his patriotic — even, at times, unifying — message will boost his reelection odds.

Impressed early in his term as the guest of honor at France’s 2017 Bastille Day celebration, which featured an elaborate military parade, the U.S. commander in chief on Thursday deployed Air Force One, jets from the Air Force and Navy, helicopters from the Army and Marines — and even a Stealth Bomber — to the National Mall. And, in a speech that connected Thomas Jefferson with the Apollo crew that landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago, Trump struck a rare unifying tone.

Strategists from both parties say the president and his reelection campaign team are attempting to reconstruct the 2016 Electoral College map that put him in the White House. And several analysts contacted for this article agreed the Independence Day rally, with its heavy military presence, was yet another play to the conservative base that was the foundation of his 2016 win.

Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who communicates regularly with the White House, sees a “calculated” reelection strategy.

“The president is trying to make sure he has that base firmly in his camp,” said O’Connell, also an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management. Base-focused rallies and events could have another benefit, he said, by “demoralizing Democrats and depressing the other guy’s turnout.”

Read more from John T. Bennett at Roll Call


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Trump Is Still On Track To Win Reelection

Back in December, I penned an op-ed here making the case that President Donald Trump would likely win re-election. At the time, Newsweek insinuated I was off my rocker. They were not alone; throngs of folks on social media and via email informed me that I probably rode the short bus to school in my early years and that everyone would be better served if I just went away.

Well, I’m here to tell you that Trump is even closer to winning reelection now than he was at the end of last year. I am not alone in this observation. The Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter is seeing the playing field much the same way I am.

Heading into 2020, Trump’s primary strengths remain incumbency — since 1900, nearly 80 percent of incumbent presidents have been reelected — and the economy.  Since FDR, every incumbent president, “who has avoided a recession in the lead-up to an election year was re-elected.” A trade truce or deal with China will most likely ensure a recession does not occur before next November.

Contrarians point to national polls and the slew of battleground state surveys, including Florida, and argue Trump is losing “bigly” to a handful of candidates and is therefore toast. The situation is certainly not ideal for Trump, but early polling from previous presidential tilts suggests the media and anti-Trump forces are getting way ahead of themselves. Who can forget that in June of 1983, eventual Democratic nominee Walter Mondale was leading President Ronald Regan by 10 points or that in June of 2011 a generic Republican presidential candidate was leading President Obama by 5 points?

Unless something totally unforeseen happens such as a major military conflict, the global economy tanks, a Thomas Eagleton situation grips the Democratic Party, Trump becomes ill, etc., this is going to be a close race — the country is just that evenly divided, and thus the race will likely be decided by just a handful of states (FL, NC, AZ, IA, PA, WI, MI).

The biggest hurdle the Trump reelect faces is that his disapproval rating has hovered above 50 percent for quite some time. The Democrats can thank their willing accomplices in the press big time for that.

So what does Trump need to do to win reelection? His team can start by taking a page out of the 2012 Obama campaign playbook — and that is precisely what the Trump campaign is doing.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at The Hill

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Team Trump Schemes To Sever Biden From Obama

The prevailing opinion inside the Trump campaign is that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden remains the most likely candidate to capture the Democratic nomination, and the campaign is plotting ways to sever Mr. Biden from the image of beloved former President Barack Obama.

Trump campaign officials said they expect Mr. Biden will survive the racial flap stirred up by Sen. Kamala D. Harris last week at the Democrats’ first 2020 primary debate in Miami. But the episode, they said, exposed an avenue of attack that could circumvent the aura of Mr. Obama that often protects his former right-hand man.

“Even though Biden took a big hit from Harris, the Trump campaign is operating under the assumption that he is still best positioned to be the nominee. That doesn’t mean they are not keeping an eye on Kamala and [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren, because they are,” said Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell, who works closely with the White House.

The formula for going after Mr. Biden in a general election, he said, would be to aim for his six-term record as a senator from Delaware rather than his two terms in the White House alongside the country’s first black president.

“He’s got an Obama card he can play, but the problem is the 36 years of baggage before Obama. That’s the ticket in terms of getting him,” Mr. O’Connell said.

Ms. Harris used the same tactic in the debate to hit Mr. Biden for his opposition to federally mandated busing to desegregate public schools in the 1970s.

Mr. Biden is viewed as a unique threat to Mr. Trump because of the former vice president’s purported appeal among blue-collar voters in the Rust Belt who unexpectedly tilted the race to Mr. Trump in 2016.

Read more from S.A. Miller at The Washington Times

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Democrats' Sharp Left Turn Could Hurt Party In 2020 Elections

The Democratic Party has taken a sharp turn to the left as its contenders for the 2020 U.S. presidency are on their campaign trips. If it veers too far, the party could turn off moderate voters and hurt its chances of clinching the White House in 2020, experts said.

Indeed, the party's leftward shift was on full display recently during the first round of Democratic debates. When the moderator asked which candidates would provide free health insurance to illegal migrants, every candidate raised their hand in a moment that grabbed headlines nationwide.

Indeed, there is a trend of candidates with moderate track records suddenly shifting their stance to support radical policies. But candidates have found themselves between a rock and a hard place.

Still, U.S. President Donald Trump will have to make an effort to push his own narrative, which is that far-left policies would be a disaster for the economy.

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said: "What they are pushing should hurt them, but it's going to be largely up to Trump to make sure he drives the nail into the coffin."

Read more from Matthew Rusling at Xinhua

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Joe Biden Defends Race Record Friday After Kamala Harris’ Takedown

Joe Biden was doing damage control Friday, playing up his civil rights bona fides in an attempt to contain the fallout from Kamala Harris’ scathing attack on his race record during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate.

Biden has come under fire in the past week for invoking the names of two segregationist senators as examples of working across the aisle — criticism Harris refused to let slide Thursday, calling Biden out for his “hurtful” remarks and slamming his 1970s stances on the practice of busing to integrate schools.

Harris, a black senator from California, drew on her personal experience with busing during Thursday’s clash, saying, “There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.”

Biden, who has enjoyed a wealth of support from the black community thus far, was on the defensive Friday in Chicago. He said he “never, ever, ever opposed voluntary busing” — which he said impacted Harris’ life. And he said, “I fought my heart out to ensure that civil rights and voting rights, equal rights, are enforced everywhere.”

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said if there was ever a time for Biden to play the Obama card, it should have been during the debate.

Biden should have said, “‘Do you think Barack Obama would have put a racist on the ticket?’” O’Connell told the Herald. “He could have been done with that answer in one second.”

“I don’t know whether or not this is going to erode his support with the African American community,” O’Connell said. “If it does, he’s going to be in serious trouble.”

Both O’Connell and former Mitt Romney adviser Ryan Williams said Biden’s debate performance exposed how rusty he was — which doesn’t bode well both for securing the Democratic nomination or for the perception of how well Biden could take on President Trump.

Read more from Lisa Kashinsky at the Boston Herald

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