The Trump Reelection Campaign Begins Its Third (at Least) Reboot

One might say the Trump campaign has been in perpetual reboot mode all summer. Reboot 1.0 was supposed to be the June 20 rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as described in Trump seeks campaign reboot with Tulsa rally.

President Trump is framing a campaign rally in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday as a reset after a punishing several months that saw a global pandemic, nationwide protests over racism and policing, Supreme Court setbacks and a scathing tell-all book by his former national-security adviser.

“My campaign hasn’t started yet. It starts on Saturday night in Oklahoma!” Mr. Trump wrote Friday on Twitter as he dismissed poor poll numbers and Democratic attack ads.

The rally is Mr. Trump’s first since the coronavirus closed the country in early March, upending a hot economy he had hoped would carry him to a second term. After having implored states to reopen — in defiance of some public-health experts — he is looking for rejuvenation in the tens of thousands of people who are descending on Tulsa for an event the campaign has branded a “Great American Comeback.”

You’ll probably remember the rally turned into the Great American Fizzle.

In July Trump engaged in what might be called a rolling reboot, or a series of mini-reboots, to begin on July 10 with a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The rally was canceled at the last minute. See Storm Clouds Hang Over Trump’s Attempted Campaign Reboot.

Friday was supposed to be the day President Donald Trump’s campaign reboot itself got a reboot. Instead, it hit another snag.

Amid uncertainty over whether he can still draw big and enthusiastic crowds to his signature rallies in the coronavirus era, Trump postponed a planned Saturday rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, citing a tropical storm expected to hit a swath of the Eastern United States.

The rally was not rescheduled. Make of that what you will.

On July 15, Trump replaced campaign manager Brad Parscale with Bill Stepien, who unlike Parscale had actually been a campaign manager before. Stepien had previously worked for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and was a big player in the Fort Lee – George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal, which ought to make him a good fit with Trump. See also Paul Waldman, Trump reshuffles his campaign. If only he could reshuffle himself.

Olivia Nuzzi has a great in-depth look at the firing of Pascale, the promotion of Stepien, and other details from Reboot 2.1. See The Most Tremendous Reelection Campaign in American History Ever: Inside the chaotic, desperate, last-minute Trump 2020 reboot. at New York magazine. Here are lots of juicy details about Parscale, Stepien, Jared Kushner, and other Team Trump insiders. There is also a fascinating section abou the Trump ground game.

I was looking for the ground game. Have you heard about it? The campaign says it’s the greatest ground game to ever exist, that while you don’t see enthusiasm for the president reflected in the rigged polls, you do see it when you talk to his real supporters where they live in Real America. In fact, they talk about surveys of enthusiasm not just as though they are more reliable than real polls but as though they are the polls — as though the traditional kind simply don’t exist, or matter. I drove across the country last month, and I saw only two signs for Joe Biden the entire way. Is this meaningful? The Trump campaign is hoping that it is. In Pennsylvania, they’re making calls and knocking on doors — a million a week — powered by more than 1.4 million volunteers. Pennsylvania is uniquely important. Rural voters won the state for Trump by less than one percentage point in the last election. This time, Trump is behind Biden by a lot. To close the gap, the campaign says it’s hosting dozens of events here — more than in any other state. But good luck finding them.

Ms. Nuzzi went to several announced Trump training events and found them either unattended or nonexistent. In one case, the staff cleaning a venue — which was closed — hadn’t been told of the event. Even so, The Hill reported this on August 10:

Trump’s campaign has been plowing its money into field staff and ramping up in-person voter contacts. Despite the pandemic, field staffers knocked on 1 million doors across 23 states last week. ,,,

… “We have the biggest and best ground game operation ever seen,” said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “Because of our permanent presence in these states and a data-driven approach to our outreach, we’ve built lasting relationships with voters on the ground that will power President Trump to victory in November.”

The Biden campaign decided that in-person campaigning during a pandemic is a bad idea. We’ll see how this works out.

But back to the July rebooting, and Reboot 2.2. You may have missed it, but on July 21 Trump rebooted The Trump Show, also known as the coronavirus briefing, which had been suspended in April after the especially memorable disinfectant episode. See Trump Reboots Virus Briefings With Warning and a Shift in Tone. This was billed as a new season of the Trump Show, but as far as I can tell the new season was canceled after just two episodes.

On July 30 Stepien announced a six-day pause of Trump’s television ads. Let’s call it Reboot 2.3. Greg Sargent wrote,

On Thursday, news organizations reported the Trump campaign was temporarily suspending its ads to review messaging and strategy. This was widely treated as a reboot, one rooted in a recognition that, with Trump sinking behind presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, a new approach was needed.

As one senior Trump campaign official told The Post: “We’ll be back on the air shortly, even more forcefully exposing Joe Biden as a puppet of the radical left wing.”

Well, now the Trump campaign has just rolled out a new ad attacking Biden, reports ABC News’s Will Steakin.

Since Sargent’s column is dated July 31, I assume this means the six-day pause only took a day.  Sargent notes that the new ad appears indistinguishable from the old ones, except maybe for being more hysterical.

This takes us to August 1, the day WaPo published an analysis headlined Trump’s campaign in crisis as aides attempt August reset before time runs out. “With the president unable to hold traditional rallies and his central economic message no longer relevant, campaign officials are scrambling to assemble a fresh case for his candidacy on the fly,” it says. As if the campaign hadn’t been in crisis mode since Tulsa, if not earlier.

Well, they’ve been working on the “fresh case.” Do they have one? Tomorrow the RNC convention begins, and headlines are calling it a Trump Campaign Reboot. We’ll call it Reboot 3.0. See Trump looks to Republican convention for campaign reboot.

Republicans will open their national convention Monday with an urgent mission: To convince voters pessimistic about the state of a country battered by the novel coronavirus, economic recession and racial upheaval that President Trump deserves four more years at the helm.

See also the Times of Israel, With this week’s Republican convention, Trump looks for campaign reboot.

Republicans will aim to recast the story of Donald Trump’s presidency when they hold their national convention this week, featuring speakers drawn from everyday life as well as cable news and the White House while drawing a stark contrast with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Trump is looking to shift his campaign away from being a referendum on a presidency ravaged by a pandemic and economic collapse and toward a choice between vastly different visions of America’s future. Reshaping the national conversation around the race has taken on greater urgency for Trump, who trails in public and private surveys as the coronavirus continues to ravage the nation’s economy and his reelection chances.

In other words, Trump thinks it is unfair that his great record was marred by the virus and stuff, and he thinks he should be judged by what a great job he was doing when there were no crises going on. He is also desperate to change the election away from a referendum on his performance and instead make it a contrast about who will do a better job in the future, him or Joe Biden, assuming there are no more crises. Those are so unfair.

From what I can tell from news stories, the Trump immediate family will be taking up about half of the speaker time. Trump plans to speak all four nights.

Echoing a framing pushed by many Trump allies in recent days, Miller called the Democratic Convention a “massive grievance-fest” and said the president would deliver a “great, uplifting message,” teasing speakers who “you would not expect to be supporters of the president.”

Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller said Sunday that President Trump plans to speak all four nights at the Republican Convention, which he said will be “very optimistic and upbeat,” in rebuttal to the past week’s Democratic Convention.

Remember, this is Trump’s idea of “upbeat”:

There’s a lineup of speakers at Talking Points Memo. This is grim stuff; I’m seeing names like Matt Gaetz, Jim I AM NOT SCREAMING Jordan, and Kellyanne Conway. The snotty MAGA hat kid, Nicholas Sandmann, is speaking Tuesday. Oddly, I’m seeing no mention of the McCloskeys, even though they were widely publicized as being speakers.

I’m with Paul Waldman; they can reboot every day from now until November. As long as Trump is the candidate, it’s still the same old campaign.

Well, there’s always Netflix. Netflix is running one of my favorite chick flicks, the 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. Recommended. I see they’ve also got V for Vendetta and Springstein on Broadway. I’m sure there are other upbeat things on the teevee this week.

5 thoughts on “The Trump Reelection Campaign Begins Its Third (at Least) Reboot

  1. Maybe the Congressional vamp Matt Gaetz can wear his gas mask for his convention speech. It was such a funny little stunt when he pulled it off months ago, but now that there are over 170,000 dead it should really hit the funny bone. Nothing conveys a message more effectively than humor. I think we can all use a good laugh on how Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats managed to get everybody worked up with the Covid-19 hoax.

    I hope Trump has 'his' African- American on hand so he doesn't have to ask, "Where's my African- American?"

  2. You can delete this comment if you want – there's just a typo "Price and Prejudice". Of course, in today's world, I had to do a quick web search to make sure there wasn't a parody, or, heck, a serious work, punning on the title.

  3. The Trump campaign announced the full roster of speakers for the convention on Sunday. The list shows that other members of the Trump family will appear each night, including first lady Melania Trump, the president's children: Ivanka, Tiffany, Donald Jr., and Eric — and Eric's wife Lara Trump.

    Gee, who would have guessed? When you run a crime family I think it's only fair that all members get a say.

  4. I see that at the Rabid Dung-beetle's Convention,  presiDUNCE tRUMP's 'Stand-up' Alter-ego, "Shecky Dangerfield," will be doing his favorite "I can't get ENOUGH respect!!!" bit EVERY night.

    That should be fun.

    Btw:  I DVR'd some classic 30's & 40's comedies starring the great William Powell, and I'm going to watch one a day over the next few days.

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