The Meltdown Continues

Politico reports that Trump threw a screaming fit at his biggest financial supporter.

When President Donald Trump connected by phone last week with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson — perhaps the only person in the party who can cut a nine-figure check to aid his reelection — the phone call unexpectedly turned contentious.

The 87-year-old casino mogul had reached out to Trump to talk about the coronavirus relief bill and the economy. But then Trump brought the conversation around to the campaign and confronted Adelson about why he wasn’t doing more to bolster his reelection, according to three people with direct knowledge of the call. One of the people said it was apparent the president had no idea how much Adelson, who’s donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts over the years, had helped him. Adelson chose not to come back at Trump.

I would love to know what it was Adelson said about the relief bill and the economy. I’ll bet that’s what pissed Trump off. It will be fun to see if Adelson decides to hang on to his money for the rest of the campaign.

The president needs the money. With less than three months until the election, he is overwhelmed by a flood of liberal super PAC spending that his party has failed to match. Since this spring, outside groups supporting Joe Biden have outspent their pro-Trump counterparts nearly 3-to-1, an influx that’s helped to erase the president’s longstanding financial advantage.

Now, Republican leaders are pleading to billionaires for help. Trump advisers are pining for new outside groups to form, and the White House is growing anxious to see what Adelson, who has pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into Republican super PACs over the past decade, will do.

I had heard that Trump was doing well with fundraising, but maybe that was money going directly into his campaign. Ironically, considering that Republicans have long enjoyed an advantage with PACs, this year PAC money is going to Democrats. And then there’s this:

Some of the president’s aides point out that, much to their frustration, he has shown less interest in super PAC fundraising than Barack Obama did ahead of his successful 2012 reelection. He’s also shown a reluctance to do the kind of glad-handing, cold-calling, and grooming of billionaires needed to cultivate a well-funded super PAC.

Others say big Republican givers are holding back checks because of the potential business fallout of being a major Trump contributor. After word surfaced that fitness company executive Stephen Ross was hosting a Hamptons fundraiser for Trump, patrons at his Equinox and SoulCycle chains staged a boycott.

With Trump trailing badly, some donors are more interested in bankrolling efforts to save the GOP’s Senate majority. Among the contributors who’ve cut checks to the super PAC for Senate Republicans but not Trump’s are hedge fund manager Paul Singer, investor Charles Schwab, and real estate developer Mel Sembler.

And some of them are just plain disgusted with Trump’s non-response to the pandemic, which they probably can see is doing huge damage to the economy.

And then there are the upcoming debates. It might surprise you that right-wing media have imagined that Biden will drop out of the debates. Well, that might not surprise you. The claim is that Biden is too gaffe-prone, too mentally unfit, to stand up to a debate against Trump. Trump, mind you. The guy who can’t pronounce “Yosemite.”

You can find all kinds of commentary on right-wing news (example) claiming that Biden is “considering” or “being advised to” cancel the debates.

After the recent disasterous Trump interviews with Chris Wallace and Jonathan Swan, one would think the Republicans would be trying to keep Trump locked in the White House bunker. Instead, they are making up stories about Biden being advised by this or that Democratic official to drop out of the debates.

We saw Biden survive the Democratic nomination debates. Did he do great? No, he did not. Other people did better. There were some gaffes, as there always are with Biden. But he survived. He did okay. For the most part, he won by mostly not screwing up. As incoherent as Trump has been lately, one suspects the Democrats around Biden are looking forward to those debates in the same way a lion looks forward to an old, fat warthog.

The Trump team, on the other hand, are flailing around looking for ways to game the debates to their advantage.

President Trump’s efforts to influence the timing and makeup of this fall’s presidential debates, some of the last planned events with the power to shift the trajectory of the campaign, have been rejected, with both the independent debate commission and the Biden campaign showing no interest in altering course. …

… Biden pledged in June to attend all three of the scheduled debates, a commitment that the president only matched in a letter Thursday, after the debate commission rejected a request to use a list of Trump-approved moderators and move up the timing of the debates. The Biden team has taken to mocking the Trump campaign’s effort to shape the rules and timing of the events, with one Biden aide suggesting that the president and his staff can Google the phrase “be there” if they have any questions.

The three debates were scheduled some time last year. They are managed by an independent commission that contains two former Republican senators — John Danforth and Olympia Snow — but no former elected officials who are Democrats. Trump has been complaining about the commission being biased against him for months.

The Commission did not “modulate” Trump’s microphone. The microphone at one 2016 debate had a glitch that made him hard to hear in the hall, but there was no problem hearing him on television.

I think what we’re seeing here follows the “projection” theory of Trump and of wingnuts generally — whatever they say about their opposition is really about themselves. Trump has been saying stupid, outrageous things on a daily basis, and the Trumpers are making fun of Biden. Do watch:

It’s true that in 2016 I thought Clinton did better than Trump in their debates, when in truth people just saw what they wanted to see, in both candidates. But now Trump has a record — a seriously awful record — to defend, and he has not exactly been on his game lately. The sales talk has turned to gibberish.

Trump and the GOP have been failing to land punches on Biden for months. According to this Axios article, news stories about Biden’s mental fitness peaked in March and again in June, but haven’t gotten much buzz outside right-wing blogs since then. The Hunter Biden and Tara Reade controversies have disappeared, even through Republicans keep trying to breathe life back into the Hunter Biden story. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, keeps holding hearings and investigations on Hunter Biden. But this is not going well for Johnson, and there is even some talk that Johnson is a Russian stooge.

A few days ago, the Trump campaign announced it was rebooting its ad campaign against Biden. This resulted in new ads that were just like the old ones, except for being more off-the-wall and hysterical. But everybody knows Joe Biden. Everybody knew Hillary Clinton, too, and a lot of people didn’t like her. But Biden is everybody’s affable Irish uncle. He’s just not someone to get worked up about.

In the debates, Biden may misspeak. Trump will misspeak. Recently Trump hasn’t been able to so much as read some basic, anodyne speechwriting without screwing up. He can’t even hold his temper to be nice to his biggest donor. My money is on Biden to be the one to get through the debates without making a total ass of himself. I’ll be very surprised if Trump shows up for all three of them.