by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Republican insiders are sounding the alarm as President Trump struggles to land a punch on Joe Biden, warning inconsistent attacks on the presumptive Democratic nominee are muddling his message and out of step with voters focused on the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, ahead of Night Two of the Democratic convention, the Trump campaign released a fresh digital advertisement casting Biden, 77, as a politician in cognitive decline, unable to handle the rigors of the presidency. The attack was another in a barrage of haymakers — his association with “radical” liberals, “socialist” plans to remake government, and positions on police funding and Black Lives Matter, among others — that are failing to connect with the former vice president.
Trump’s erratic attacks on Biden are diluting the potency of any specific hit, say frustrated Republican strategists. Worse, they complain, Trump is trying to rerun the outsider campaign he waged four years ago against Hillary Clinton, an ethically plagued Democrat far more vulnerable to the president’s asymmetrical targeting than Biden.
“What Trump campaign messaging? There’s no narrative building; no theme; no message progression, other than: ‘Joe Biden bad,’” a veteran Republican insider said. Said another GOP operative: “Trump is constantly on defense. He spends much more time talking about his own record than about Biden’s record. Part of that goes with being an incumbent with a record, especially during a pandemic and economic crisis.”
As the Democratic convention continues and Republicans prepare to celebrate Trump’s renomination next week, Biden is enjoying a substantial lead over the president in national polls and battleground state surveys. The margins that have solidified since the pandemic upended life, and the economy, five months ago. But the Trump campaign defended the president’s messaging and said its internal data proves voters are responding favorably to the range of attacks.