by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump’s first post-lockdown campaign rally was seen as a disappointment, but Republicans are betting that being noticeably more active on the campaign trail than presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden will pay dividends in the long run.
It’s a test of two wildly different approaches to campaigning. Dating back to his real estate developer days gracing the covers of New York City tabloids, Trump has long believed he is better off dominating the headlines, even if some of the resulting coverage is negative. Biden is also gradually returning to in-person events, but he has been largely content to cede the spotlight to Trump and has a 9.5-point lead in the RealClearPolitics national polling average to show for it.
“The resumption of campaign rallies will fire up Trump’s base and keep his campaign churning, with massive amounts of new data which can translate into new small-dollar donors and new volunteers,” said Republican consultant Matt Mackowiak. “The contrast of Trump on the campaign trail with Biden hiding in his basement in Delaware will be stark.”
Democrats aren’t so sure. They look at the “Make America Great Again” rally in Tulsa and see not the anticipated campaign relaunch but a flurry of bad news: wall-to-wall coverage of uncharacteristically empty seats, a canceled overflow event at which Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had been scheduled to speak, negative ad-worthy comments about slowing down coronavirus testing, the use of the phrase “kung-flu,” six Trump advance team members contracting the virus, and numerous lengthy digressions from the planned attacks on Biden.
Other than after the first week of daily coronavirus briefings at the White House, during which Trump’s numbers briefly spiked, … Biden has been better off in the basement.