The president is getting antsy. Donald Trump wants to get back on the campaign trail as soon as possible in order to energize his base and go on the attack against Joe Biden.
He’s also hoping to draw a stark contrast with his opponent. While Biden hesitates and tries to wait out the pandemic in his Delaware home, Trump hopes to be holding mega rallies again, showing the country that it’s OK to get back to some semblance of normalcy.
Trump has been pressuring his campaign team to fill his schedule with the kind of major campaign events that excites his supporters and perplexes the Democrats. Soon, that will be possible as most states are relaxing coronavirus restrictions to allow it.
Internally, aides see Trump’s eagerness to reintroduce physical campaign events as an advantage over his likely general election opponent, Joe Biden, whose own team has been reticent on when the former vice president might venture beyond his Delaware home. Biden and his team have said they will base their decision to resume physical travel on the advice of medical experts and recently endorsed the idea of an online nominating convention after the Democratic National Committee postponed the convention from July to August because of public health concerns.
Trump has adamantly opposed changing the Republican Party’s August nominating convention in Charlotte, N.C. In private conversations, he has told friends his campaign should do more to capitalize on the uncertainty Biden and other Democrats have had about their own convention, according to a senior administration official.
“The president and his team will take every opportunity to make this a forward-looking election, where they can go out and say to all of the country, ‘Here’s what we are going to do on the other side of this crisis,’” said GOP strategist Alex Schriver, who spoke at the 2012 GOP convention.
Biden’s timidity vs. Trump’s confidence could be a winning issue if state reopenings go according to plan. That’s an unknown right now, but Trump seems determined to push ahead full speed.
Trump has previously said the “cure” for Covid-19 cannot be worse than the virus itself, a message that has appeared on the homemade signs of some protesters fighting stay-at-home orders in recent days.
But Trump’s desire to beat Biden to the campaign trail and lead the return to normal for a shell-shocked nation comes with significant risk. Events that will require weeks of advance planning could end up colliding with a resurgence of the virus in individual states, a potentially slow economic recovery or poor economic data that’s widely expected to continue for at least another month.
There’s no doubt this is a high risk, high reward strategy that Biden would never attempt. While the former vice president sits in his basement listening to the geese honking, Trump could be drawing huge crowds at rallies in battleground states. While Biden is giving his acceptance speech from his basement, Trump could be in front of 20,000 screaming Republicans in Charlottle, NC.
The contrast is just too delicious. And for Trump, a high-roller who doesn’t mind going all in if the situation is right, that contrast could get him re-elected.