“Many Republican advisers are disappointed because we want the presidential campaign to focus on the economy,” said David Kochel, a Republican strategist in Iowa. “Their best message: Trump has built a big economy,” and Covid-19 has hurt her, and Mr. Trump is a better option than Mr. Biden to rebuild it, he said.
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“Our base loves things about Hunter Biden, laptops and Mayor Giuliani,” Mr Kochel added. “But they are already voting for Trump.”
Prior to Mr. Trump’s victorious victory in 2016, his campaign also mixed public boasting with private concern about the apparent likelihood of defeat. But then, unlike now, Mr Trump ended the race with a jackhammer that attacks Hillary Clinton as a corrupt insider and promises broad economic change – an argument far clearer than the one he offers today.
Mr. Stephen and other campaign leaders, including Jason Miller, a senior strategist, told Republicans in Washington that they expected the polls to exceed results. They say their own data suggests a tighter race in a number of states, including Arizona and Pennsylvania, than a survey conducted by news organizations. They are betting that voter registration and voter turnout, which Trump’s team has created over the past four years, will eventually give them an advantage in narrowly divided states on election day.
However, some prominent Republicans point to the new direct language of the possibility – and even the likelihood – of defeat for the president. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close ally, said this week that Democrats had a “good chance of winning the White House,” and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said his party could find itself in a “bloodbath.”
While fears of Trump’s revenge have muzzled most party members, strategists are deeply concerned that Mr. Trump may campaign in recent weeks, entertaining and encouraging his existing supporters, avoiding any joint efforts to find new ones – an approach that could cripple other Republicans running.
Ken Spain, a Republican strategist, said Mr Trump “is not sending a consistent message at the most important stage of the campaign”.