Trump tours swing states to stem election slide
US President Donald Trump makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. AFP
President Donald Trump tours five swing states this week, starting with Florida and North Carolina Tuesday, in hopes that promises of a quick coronavirus vaccine and booming economic recovery will right his floundering reelection campaign.
Only eight weeks before polling day Democrat Joe Biden maintains a healthy lead in national polls and much smaller but consistent advantages in the handful of states that tend to switch sides, deciding the outcomes of close elections.
Trump's Tuesday trip will be followed by visits to Michigan on Thursday and Nevada on the weekend. And Trump and Biden will both be in Pennsylvania on Friday for 9/11 commemorations at the Flight 93 National Memorial, in Shanksville.
It was not clear whether they might declare a brief truce and appear jointly at the ceremony remembering the passengers who died after attacking their hijackers on September 11, 2001, sending the doomed plane into a field.
Biden, who was already in Pennsylvania on Labor Day Monday, will be in Michigan on Wednesday, while his vice presidential pick Kamala Harris goes to Florida and his wife Jill Biden visits Minnesota -- a state Trump is pushing hard to flip to his side on November 3.
Trump has thrown everything he can at Biden in the last couple weeks, calling him "stupid," accusing him of being a puppet of socialist revolutionaries, and claiming that sometimes violent anti-racism protests are a harbinger of Democratic-led chaos.
"Suburban voters are pouring into the Republican Party because of the violence in Democrat-run cities and states. If Biden gets in, this violence is 'coming to the Suburbs', and FAST," Trump tweeted Tuesday, repeating what has become one of his core reelection messages. "You could say goodbye to your American Dream!"
By contrast, Trump says, he is about to oversee the delivery of a coronavirus vaccine -- possibly on the eve of the election -- and "the greatest economic year in the history of our country."
Bad news cycles
For his entire first term, Trump has become used to dominating the news cycle, transforming the White House into the nation's most riveting theater and mundane press appearances into a kind of political performance art.
As election day approaches, however, the Republican showman's grip on the script is slipping. Covid-19 has ended his favorite platform of large rallies in noisy arenas and his seemingly killer instinct for defining opponents with a single catchy nickname is proving ineffective in the case of the man he dubs "sleepy Joe."
The last week has seen Trump endure a torrent of negative headlines which he appears powerless to tamp down. An article in The Atlantic quoting anonymous sources accusing Trump of repeatedly disparaging military members killed in war as "losers" and "suckers" continues to roil the White House despite a concerted effort to discredit the magazine.
"The Democrats, together with the corrupt Fake News Media, have launched a massive Disinformation Campaign the likes of which has never been seen before," Trump tweeted Tuesday in the latest indication that he still feels the story is causing damage. "They will say anything, like their recent lies about me and the Military, and hope that it sticks."
Those allegations are now joined by lurid claims made by his disgraced former fixer and lawyer Michael Cohen, whose book "Disloyal" is the latest in a long line of angry tell-alls by former Trump insiders.
Cohen is damaged goods because he admitted lying to Congress over a Moscow real estate deal he pursued on Trump's behalf at the height of the 2016 campaign -- and over the extent of Trump's own involvement in the negotiations. But the former attorney's tabloid-style collection of anecdotes about Trump's alleged affairs, tax-dodging, racism, misogyny and scorn for many of his supporters is getting major media play.
In one bizarre episode described by Cohen, Trump took out his well-documented fixation on his White House predecessor Barack Obama by hiring a look-alike he could pretend to dress down and then fire.
"Michael Cohen is a disgraced felon and disbarred lawyer," White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said in response to the publication of "Disloyal."
"He has lost all credibility, and it's unsurprising to see his latest attempt to profit off of lies."