Traditionally, Labor Day is the start of presidential campaigns. Of course, since Bill Clinton created the “war room,” campaigns never really ended. Barack Obama took that to a new level, treating every single appearance and news event as a part of the perpetual campaign. President Trump learned from Obama, and almost immediately after his election, he formed a reelection committee, began soliciting funds, and named Brad Parscale as his campaign director.
So, given that this is supposedly the official kickoff, where do the campaigns stand? Joe Biden’s initial strategy of hiding in his basement, allowing surrogates (especially Kamala Harris, his veep pick) to do personal appearances, and have the Hoax News media somehow make it “all about Trump” has largely failed. Trump, through his non-stop peppering of “Hiden’ Biden,” by slashing the (supposed) Biden lead in the polls, and by staying on offense, forced Biden out of the cellar. In fact, Biden found he needed to stage a “press conference,” the likes of which no presidential campaign in history has ever seen. To call the questions “softball” would be a disservice to softballs, as virtually every question was “Why is Donald Trump so terrible?”
Still, such staged visuals do not help Biden. They do not in any way dispel people’s concerns about Biden’s mental health, nor do such events yield any information on Biden’s proposed policies or explain how he would end high unemployment. His statement that he would impose a national mask-wearing mandate was as close as he has come to outlining any tangible policy.
Meanwhile, there have been powerful indicators that Trump is controlling the narrative and winning the election, despite the useless polls. First, increasingly on the airwaves and on the ground, the fight is on “blue” turf—Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota. Biden has even run ads in New York! (Can anyone remember the last time New York was contested?) While some might blow it off as Trump pomposity, he has stated on two occasions recently that he would win the election; that he would carry Minnesota; and Jared Kushner also cited internal polling showing the Trump campaign up in the battleground states. More recently, Newt Gingrich has alluded to internal polls he saw showing Trump up in Arizona and North Carolina, two states the Democrats thought they could steal. Biden apparently has given up on Florida and is running no ads there. Various pollsters, though certainly not the consensus of the pollsters, have Trump up in Pennsylvania and Michigan.
All of this ignores several realities that the pollsters continue to miss or deliberately avoid: not only are colleges not coming back, but more are also either ending their fall semesters early or using draconian punishments against the students who are on campus and, as students do, fraternizing and partying. For example, the State University of New York in Plattsburgh suspended 43 students for holding a party, Syracuse University suspended 23 for “incredibly reckless behavior,” and North Carolina’s flagship campus, UNC, canceled its in-person classes as did Michigan State. Notre Dame suspended in-person classes for two weeks. My original projection of July 8 posited a 30% decline in Democrat 18-24-year-old voting due to campus closures. It is on campus that Democrat mobilizers and organizers “get out the vote.” But now, with even more campuses closing in full or in part, it is entirely possible that the 30% estimate may be low.
Given these realities, and the apparent message to Democrat insiders that the riots in Portland, Chicago, and other cities are not playing well with middle America, a change of message was needed. This came last week in the form of the “Losers/suckers” hoax story from the Atlantic where President Trump, according to the omnipresent “unnamed sources,” made derogatory comments about those veterans buried in France and didn’t want to fly into a ceremony honoring them because it would mess up his hair.
No, you can’t make this up.
Within three days, no fewer than ten people familiar with the flight completely denied it on the record. Yet Fox News’s reporter Jennifer Griffen “corroborated” the claims of the unnamed source though unnamed sources of her own!
No, you can’t make this up either.
Now, Monday, this has already apparently washed out of the news cycle. Speaking of wash, I do not think this was staged to knock the Nancy Pelosi “blow out” story off the front pages. That story had a limited shelf life, to begin with, and a story such as the Atlantic concocted requires a prolonged effort at lying. Instead, as Paul Sperry reported yesterday the Atlantic story was concocted to counteract President Trump’s strong support from overseas troops and to try to dull his edge there.
BREAKING: Hill Republicans suspect disputed anonymous story re Trump disrespecting fallen war vets was planted by Biden campaign: Biden used The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg pal Rep Conor Lamb (D-PA, Marine major) to amplify story. Goal:blunting military absentee ballots for Trump
— Paul Sperry (@paulsperry_) September 6, 2020
If Sperry is correct, this only further confirms my overall view that Trump has the Democrats completely on defense. They are constantly reacting to, and responding to, him and his strengths. Trump says the rioting and looting are bad at a time when the Hoax News media refuses to cover the riots—but the news still leaks out. Suddenly Don Lemon (“Blind Lemon Don”) pleads with his viewers to stop rioting (which says a great deal in and of itself!) because it is advancing the Trump agenda. Brett Weinstein, who conducts the “Dark Horse Podcast,” has warned that Democrats are “making a fatal error. Allowing some citizens to personally terrorize others is unAmerican, it’s monstrous policy, and it’s bat sh@t crazy as a campaign strategy.”
Democrats are making a fatal error. Allowing some citizens to personally terrorize others is unAmerican, it’s monstrous policy, and it’s bat shit crazy as a campaign strategy. Trump will win if there is no viable alternative.
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) September 6, 2020
Precisely. Not only does it cause revulsion in traditional moderates—who by their very psychological nature do not want to engage in perpetual confrontations—but it pushes them to be “shy” Trump voters. This, in turn, makes the polling even more suspect as they refuse to talk to pollsters out of fear it may “out” them.
Now the Atlantic has given Trump a reason and purpose in the public mind for rolling out acres of footage of him supporting the troops, meeting with the wounded, consoling Gold Star Families, and so on. In wrestling terms, Trump pulled the Reverse Khizr Khan. It’s a remarkable move where a candidate takes the other side’s attack, repurposes it, and sends it back at ten times the velocity. Moreover—and look for this soon—the Atlantic hoax has opened the door for a brand new “Swiftboat Vets for Truth” ad that we should see soon from a conservative PAC. I would expect such an ad to feature several pro-Trump warriors, many sporting the nation’s highest honors, some disabled by combat wounds, not only supporting Trump but attacking Biden for his complicity in Bengahzi, the destabilization of the Middle East and subsequent rise of ISIS, and his role in the Seal Team Six shootdown. Far from doing Biden a favor, the Atlantic opened the saloon doors to Tombstone to reveal Kurt Russell in full Wyatt Earp regalia shouting “I’m comin’! And Hell’s comin’ with me!”
In sum, as we start the official kickoff to the presidential campaign season, Trump now has the Democrats panicked that he will drown them in military absentee ballots, pull away a significant percentage of blacks and Hispanics, lock down the “Law and Order” snowflake vote from people afraid Antifa’s next Happy Hour will be in their shaded neighborhoods and will blow them out in an enthusiasm gap.
The would not be wrong in any of those fears.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and founder of the Wild World of History curriculum website that features full US and World History lessons for grades 9-12 including teacher guides, student workbooks, tests/answers, images/maps/graphs and video lessons (www.wildworldofhistory.com).