BOSTON (CBS) — With just three weeks to go until election day, both President Trump and his challenger Joe Biden are campaigning hard.
Biden is in Florida Tuesday; Trump held a rally there Monday night, his first road trip since being hospitalized with the coronavirus. And the focus on Florida tells you a lot about where this race stands, and how shaky the Trump victory scenario has become.
From “law and order” to painting Biden as the tool of radical socialists, Trump’s campaign strategies haven’t been working, as fallout from his pandemic response dominates the campaign and forces the president to play catch-up with a group he won easily in 2016 – seniors.
A new Trump TV ad touts the president’s work on “protecting our seniors, getting them lifesaving drugs in record time, sparing no expense. President Trump tackled the virus head-on.” But with seniors and virtually every other demographic group giving him poor marks for pandemic management and general credibility, it is too little, too late?
Trump’s campaign strategy was to sew up the states he won last time and focus on so-called swing states like Minnesota and New Hampshire. But they’ve been forced to play defense in states like Ohio and Iowa that were strongholds for him last time.
Republican sources tell WBZ they’re even worried about deep South red states like Georgia, where the race is a statistical tie. A Democrat hasn’t won there since Bill Clinton did it 28 years ago.
The White House response to COVID-19 has obviously been the main culprit in upsetting the Trump campaign plan. But even before the virus struck, there was plenty of head-scratching over the president’s refusal to consistently try to build support outside of his 2016 base. Instead, Trump and his allies reflexively return to themes that worked for them last time, such as playing on Hillary Clinton’s unpopularity, and some that didn’t, like the echoes of the failed 2018 effort to scare voters with the prospect of criminals invading their suburban communities.
In political circles, they say the worst mistake you can make is thinking the current election will be just like the last one. If the current trend in the 2020 presidential race continues, it will be in large part because the president never understood that.