'It's Trump vs. Not-Trump:' After Conventions, Biden Looks To Excite His Base While Trump Tries To Expand His

Hours before Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican nomination in front of 1,500 supporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told Illinois trial lawyers at a virtual fundraiser that he's going to start campaigning in person again.

Trump as impresario of a glitzy spectacle and Biden as participant of an online discussion served not only to highlight a contrast in styles but also provided a window into their differing strategies to win the Nov. 3 election.

GOP strategist Ford O'Connell, however, said he believes an increasing number of key voters, such as seniors and suburbanites, are beginning to view Trump as the candidate best suited to restore normalcy, especially as civil unrest continues to spark violence in places such as Kenosha where he plans to visit Tuesday.

“The arc that he’s on, I think he’s going to win," O'Connell said.

"But he has to continue driving this (message) home that: 'you have a lot to lose. I’m front and center on (COVID). It’s about safety and security. And, by the way, Biden's a figurehead for the far left and he’s promising to bring back the sun except he’s been in Washington for nearly 50 years and hasn’t done it yet," he said.

O'Connell, the GOP pollster, said that's a key for his re-election because rallies help the enthusiasm of his base.

"What people don’t realize is, yes, (rallies) energize him, but they also energize his supporters and his supporters in key places, whether its New Hampshire or the I-4 corridor in Florida," he said. "They become like evangelists for him.”

Read more from Ledyard King and Phillip M. Bailey at USA TODAY

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Trump-Biden Race Tightens As Both Sides Expect Close Contest

President Trump has lagged Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden badly in the polls for much of 2020, but strategists in both parties predict his numbers will rise and the race will tighten as the Republican Party consolidates further behind him this fall.

There are already signs that the race is tightening.

In Michigan, Biden’s average polling lead dropped from 8.4 percentage points on July 28 to 2.6 percent a month later, according to the average of polls kept by RealClearPolitics, while in Pennsylvania Biden’s average lead dipped from 7.4 points to 5.8 points during the same period.

Republican strategists say the change in tactics for Biden, who has been criticized by Trump for spending most of the last several months of the pandemic in Delaware, is a sign he expects the race to tighten.

“Just look at the Joe Biden and see the actions. Now they’re talking about leaving the bunker,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “Obviously they recognize they’ve been playing prevent defense on Trump and now they’re going to have to change their tactics.

“If they keep playing prevent defense, which is the bunker strategy, they may wind up losing the election,” he added. 

Read more from Alexander Bolton at The Hill

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Republicans Aim Socialism Accusation At Florida Audience

Speakers from Florida at this week’s Republican National Convention sounded the alarm over what they called the threat of socialism in the Democratic Party, seeking to appeal to voters in the nation’s largest swing state who are deeply apprehensive about the ideology.

The message was aimed primarily at Florida’s large senior population and voters in the southern portion of the state, an area that has for decades been shaped by Cuban exiles who fled communist rule and is now also home to the largest Venezuelan population in the U.S.

“When it comes to the battleground states in play, the charge of socialism itself has more gravitas in Florida,” said Florida-based GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

“Voters in Florida tend to be older,” O’Connell added. “It has a lot more gravitas than say with younger voters who don’t really know what it means.”

“Also, you have a large number of folks who recently just came from socialist countries, whether it’s Venezuela [or] Cuba,” he said.

Read more from Max Greenwood and Julia Manchester at The Hill

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Conventions Highlight Wildly Different Biden, Trump Strategies Going Into Final Election Stretch

The back-to-back presidential nominating conventions that concluded with Donald Trump’s speech showed both sides intend to fight for the sliver of independent and moderate voters who will decide the election, each with a wildly different strategy in the final sprint to Nov. 3.

Trump’s convention depicted the president as a champion of “law and order,” taking aim at voters who do not approve of his divisive and inflammatory rhetoric but may be jittery about months of protests over racial injustice and police brutality that have sometimes turned violent.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican consultant close to the Trump campaign, said much of the convention’s programming was directed at voters who “might have soured” on Trump because of his divisive style or were still looking for reasons to support him.

Read more from James Oliphant at Reuters

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As Cities Burn, GOP Makes Law Enforcement A Centerpiece Of Convention's Third Night

The third night of the Republican National Convention was filled with impassioned defenses of law enforcement and celebrations of the military, calling them heroes under assault from the Left while President Trump stands with them.

One veteran Republican strategist said it was smart to suggest to voters they have a lot to lose by supporting Biden.

"In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump argued to many in the electorate — ‘what do you have to lose’ by voting for me? Hillary Clinton and the national media scoffed, but the electorate didn’t,” said Ford O’Connell. “In 2020, after three nights, President Trump and his surrogates are cogently making the case to many of those same voters that you have a lot to lose if you don’t reelect him. If team Trump continues to make this case over the next 60-plus days while simultaneously reminding voters that Biden is a Trojan horse for socialism, the voters who Trump needs to recapture — seniors, independents, suburbanites, conservative minorities — will come home to him, and Trump will win reelection."

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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Trump, GOP Walk Tightrope In Wooing Minority Voters

There have been two sides to the Republican National Convention so far this week. 

One side has featured what was expected: a grandiose, virtual happy hour to President Trump's conservative base.

The other side has been an open letter to minority voters — a bloc that the president struggles mightily with.

Republicans argue the racism argument is one not based in reality. The idea that “Republicans are racist, it’s not a party for people of color and they don’t care,” is a manufactured narrative by the media and Democrats, Republican strategist Ford O’Connell told The Hill.

O’Connell defended the president’s hard-line stance.

“The president’s making the point that [he wants] to see justice served for all Americans, but at the same time defunding the police and violence is not going to achieve that result,” O’Connell said.

Read more from Marty Johnson at The Hill

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Trump Seeks Health Care Victory On Prescription Drugs

President Trump is searching for a health care victory ahead of the 2020 election, and has turned to executive action to try to achieve it. 

The administration is looking to fend off attacks from Democrats, who see the president as particularly vulnerable on health care.

Trump has long cast himself as “Big Pharma’s” main villain. He recently said drug prices will fall dramatically because of his actions.

GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said the administration officials are aware of the limitations, and are not trying to enact a sweeping policy change just ahead of the election. 

Instead, O'Connell said voters should view the effort as Trump signaling a second-term policy.

“This is not necessarily reaching for a health care victory right now,” O'Connell said. “I find he is less vulnerable if he is making the case that [if] you reelect me, I'm going to make drug prices lower.”

Read more from Nathanial Weixel at The Hill

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Censorship, Political Bias Is Bigger Than Goodyear

Republican strategist Ford O'Connell responds to Goodyear's reversal on its policy forbidding employees from wearing MAGA and All Lives Matter gear but could wear BLM or pride clothing after President Trump called for a boycott.

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Republicans Say 'Depressing' Democratic Convention Is A Loser

Grim. Gloomy. Depressing. Those were some of the words Republican campaign professionals used to describe the Democratic National Convention, which culminated in former Vice President Joe Biden delivering his acceptance speech as the party’s presidential nominee on Thursday night.

“Over the past week, Democrats highlighted President Trump’s shortcomings as the nation’s chief executive, and they made the case that Joe Biden is of good character, but they never communicated to the American people how a Joe Biden presidency will improve their lives in the here and now beyond empty platitudes,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “It was almost as if Biden and company believe he is running for student body president and not president of the United States of America.”

“We are in a global pandemic, Americans are starving, and they are hurting. All Biden and the Democrats had to do was provide a basic road map to success for America under a President Biden, and they failed dreadfully on that account similar to Michael Dukakis and John Kerry,” O’Connell said. “There is no question about it, President Trump has an uphill climb to win reelection, but, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Democrat Party of 2020 and Joe Biden.”

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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'A Big Night For Identity Politics': Republicans Slam Democrats' 'Facade Of Unity'

The Democratic National Convention opened with the national anthem and an overtly Christian prayer, with a theme of “We the People” as the party emphasized unity on Monday night.

But Republicans argued that it is difficult to square American unity with identity politics and increasingly liberal policies.

"There is no question the first night of the DNC convention was aimed toward highlighting a heavy dose of the diversity of voices within the Democratic Party — how else does one comport Michelle Obama, Eva Longoria Baston and Bernie Sanders?” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “But regardless of who spoke for the Biden/Harris ticket, the message was the same — irrespective of the faux plaudits employed — look at how rational and moderate we are. Nod, nod, wink, wink.”

“The central question is, can the Democrats keep this facade of unity going for an entire week when the only thing that truly binds them is their disdain for Trump?” O’Connell continued. “Chances are someone isn’t going to stick to script, and Trump will be able to take advantage. But only time will tell."

Read more from W. James Antle III at the Washington Examiner

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