Trump Campaign Forced To Use Tele-Rallies As Coronavirus Cases Surge
President tells Michigan supporters: ‘I want to get out there and do the rally as soon as we can’. Trump Campaign Forced To Use Tele-Rallies As Coronavirus Cases Surge
President Trump on Sunday dismissed new polling showing him trailing Joe Biden in the November election, as his campaign is shifting tactics, leveling increasingly aggressive attacks on his Democratic opponent and holding conference calls with supporters amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Trump scoffed at the network’s new poll showing him trailing his rival by 8 percentage points, 49%-41%, though the gap is smaller than in a Fox poll in June.
“And on the issues, people trust Biden more to handle the coronavirus by 17 points, on race relations by 21 points, and even on the economy they trust Biden more by 1 point,” host Chris Wallace said. “I understand you still have more than a hundred days to this election, but at this point you’re losing.”
“First of all, I’m not losing, because those are fake polls,” Mr. Trump replied. “They were fake in 2016 and now they’re even more fake.”
Mr. Trump in the Sunday interview also hedged on whether he would accept the outcome in November should he be defeated. “I have to see. No, I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no, and I didn’t last time either.”
Worries nonetheless are spreading in Mr. Trump’s campaign with less than four months before the election, as perceptions of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and racial issues have hurt his standing. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Wednesday showed Mr. Biden with a double-digit lead.
The same day the Journal/NBC News poll was released, Mr. Trump replaced his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, with a more seasoned camping operative, Bill Stepien.
The president used a series of White House events last week to attack Mr. Biden on a variety of fronts, casting him as far left and suggesting he would lead to lawlessness and mayhem as people call for reducing police budgets. “No one will be SAFE in Joe Biden’s America!” Mr. Trump said in a tweet Wednesday.
Mr. Biden opposes defunding the police, and on Sunday Mr. Wallace challenged the president on that point.
“For over a year, Donald Trump and his campaign have cycled through the same self-defeating attacks against Joe Biden and have failed to get traction on a single one,’’ Mr. Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said Sunday.
“President Trump gave it yet another go on ‘Fox News Sunday’ this morning. He lurched from smear to smear, all while being forcefully corrected on most, including the lie that Joe Biden wouldn’t keep the American people safe and supports defunding the police—which has been fact-checked into oblivion over the last month. There is one candidate in this race who has failed to keep the American people safe this year: Donald Trump.’’
Since the pandemic hit, Mr. Biden’s campaign has become primarily digital, with the majority of events held online. Mr. Biden has said that large campaigns are unsafe.
“I’m going to follow the doc’s orders—not just for me, but for the country—and that means that I am not going to be holding rallies,” Mr. Biden told reporters earlier this month.
Mr. Biden has on occasion held speeches or meetings in-person, but those have had a limited number of attendees and been subject to social-distancing requirements.
The pandemic has forced Mr. Trump’s campaign to suspend rallies, after one several weeks ago in Tulsa, Okla., that drew a much smaller crowd than expected. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump held two tele-rallies with supporters.
“I want to get out there and do the rally as soon as we can,” Mr. Trump said on a call Saturday with Michigan supporters. “Between Covid and your governor’s restrictions, it really makes it very difficult, but we’ll be out there eventually,” he added, referring to Covid-19, the disease caused by the new virus. “But in the meantime we’re doing it telephonically.”
On Friday evening, he told supporters in Wisconsin that Mr. Biden supported an Obama-era fair-housing rule. “They want to eliminate single-family zoning, bringing who knows into your suburbs, so your communities will be unsafe and your housing values will go down,” he said.
Polling shows Mr. Trump has particularly lost support with suburban women and his message is designed to raise fears, opponents say. He has also more broadly emphasized a law-and-order message amid national protests over racial injustice that have led to the toppling of monuments and additional bans on the Confederate flag. Mr. Trump on Sunday defended people who support the flag, calling it a free-speech issue.
“There are a lot of people who say these were traitors who split from this country, fought this country in large part to preserve slavery. Is the Confederate flag offensive?” Mr. Wallace asked. The president replied, “It depends on who you’re talking about, when you’re talking about.”
During the Fox News broadcast, the Biden campaign ran a coronavirus-themed ad in battleground states, including Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida and North Carolina. “I’m thinking of all of you today. I know the rising case numbers is causing fear and apprehension,” Mr. Biden says in the spot, urging people to wear masks and take other steps to stop the spread of the virus.
“I will not abandon you,” Mr. Biden says. “We’re all in this together.”
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