Trump’s culture wars worked in 2016. His aides fear that the world has changed.


It has been 6 months since the WHO warned of an unknown virus circulating in Wuhan, China. Now, the United States has more than 3 million confirmed cases and there are more than 12 million worldwide.

It was a tactic Trump used to launch himself into the White House in 2016. But his advisers say the world has changed since the coronavirus pandemic gripped the world economy and national protests against police brutality erupted. In that climate, they fear that voters may not be as receptive to certain divisive issues of culture war, especially independent voters, older people, suburban women, and the sliver of African Americans that Trump must win to lead to crucial crucial states. like Wisconsin, Ohio or Pennsylvania.

“It’s been spoiled by its successes, but I’m not sure it’s the same atmosphere as in 2016,” said a Republican close to the White House. “The problem is when you go down the tangents on the Confederate flag. I am not here to defend that.

Several Republican strategists said that reliving culture wars and gesturing not so subtly to Confederate supporters is not a way to mobilize voters outside of Trump’s unconditional base. Trump has also relied on arguments that Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, was duped by the deep state into lying to the FBI, and allegations that rival Joe Biden’s alleged family in 2020 is corrupt.

“People don’t care about Michael Flynn or Biden’s children,” says Ed Rollins, president of the PAC Pro-Trump Great America and former national campaign manager for President Ronald Reagan’s successful 1984 campaign. “Those problems are complicated. People care if they can lead the country through these two pandemic crises and recession. ”

“I thought that when the virus broke out and the economy fell apart, it gave Trump an opportunity to step forward and show what kind of leader he could be, but he certainly did not do well,” Rollins added. “If we are sitting here on Labor Day with these voting numbers, we will not change it.”

Part of the problem stems from Trump’s insistence that he only acts as his best campaign manager, communications director and strategist. Campaign employees are quick to say the president is driving the message. They simply follow and amplify their words.

Few employees or advisers around the president can give you bad news, apart from a handful of allies, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (RS.C.) or House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Republican of California).

More often than not, friends or surrogates give Trump advice on television – a medium the president monitors so closely that the resulting coverage fuels his reactions. It was recently on television that former New Jersey Governor and long-time friend of Trump Chris Christie urged him to dramatically change his tone and focus before the November election.

Recent national polls have consistently shown that Trump follows Biden by an ever-widening margin, though Trump campaign officials quickly say such polls are flawed and more focused on polls in non-combat states. However, that poll also paints a bleak picture for the president. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report on Wednesday predicted a Democratic “tsunami” at the polls in November, with Georgia, Arizona, North Carolina and Florida at stake, and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania leaning toward the Democrats.

Adviser to President Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that Trump’s re-election message should hinge on the president’s handling of the economy, his patriotism and his health care work, which she says would resonate with women.

But several aides believe the president should send a message of support to law enforcement and the police, especially as cities such as Atlanta, Chicago and New York have experienced recent waves of gun violence, including shootings over the weekend of 4 of July. They see such appeals as more effective than targeted attacks on African Americans like Bubba Wallace that, privately, Republicans have seen as disastrous.

And some donors and advisers want Trump to continue his campaign to protect controversial statues and monuments. They see a fine line between that momentum, which they say resonates with many Americans, and tweet about the Confederate flag, which they say is a lost issue.

Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller questioned the idea that the campaign cannot settle for its messages, saying each issue resonates with different blocks of voters.

“Trump built the largest economy in the history of the world, and he is doing it again, and for many voters, that is the strongest reason they are supporting President Trump in his reelection,” said Miller. “For many other voters, the fact that President Trump pledges to open schools this fall speaks more to their families and their situation, and to other voters, President Trump’s commitment to reject a radical left-wing mob is one of the strongest selling points. “

The result, at times, has been a focus of all of the above that can bounce between each message.

Trump’s political advisers “are not yet on the same page” in the message, said Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally and former Speaker of the House. “It is a work in progress, but it is in early July. They will come to that when they get to the convention. “

“The challenge is to find the discipline to stick to the messages and keep coming back and hammering them,” added Gingrich. “When Trump is in his A game, he is the best politician in the country. They just have to keep him in his game A for three months. “

In those months, Trump will be heavily scrutinized, with cases of the coronavirus increasing and many Americans still trapped at home.

“These undecided voters want to know, ‘How do I get my normal life back? What has to happen to get my normal life back? ‘”Said a second Republican close to the White House.

“They are paying attention to the news and politics more than ever in their lives,” added the person.. “If I’m a Democrat, I’m happy because they are paying more attention to Trump’s idiocy, but they are also paying attention to the extreme machinations of the left.”