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Trump and his aides struggle for a message as political blows keep coming

President Donald Trump is lagging badly in the polls. His promises of keeping America great have been shredded by the pandemic. And he’s now confronting a female political rival who’s uniquely hard to attack.

Trump is in a slump, and his messaging shows it.

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While the president has never been known for discipline when it comes to his communications strategy, he unleashed on Thursday especially sharp and sexist criticisms of several female political rivals — including newly minted Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is proving unrelenting in stimulus negotiations.

The rhetoric appeared at odds with his own attempts to court the suburban female voters who are turning away from him in large numbers.

Trump also flashed his tendency to say the quiet parts out loud, explicitly stating that he is trying to block funding for the United States Postal Service in order to stop universal mail-in voting during November’s election.

Those comments were later amplified on Thursday by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who labeled voting rights funding a “really liberal left” wish list item, while slamming congressional Democrats for their coronavirus relief package demands.

The unbridled nature of the remarks from the president and his senior aide suggested a new sense of frenzy among Trump’s reelection team, which is entering the final months of the 2020 campaign significantly trailing Joe Biden and facing deadlocked negotiations over another round of stimulus.

Sen. Kamala Harris. | John Locher/AP Photo

Trump’s opening salvo on Thursday targeted “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski, whom he described in a tweet as the “ditzy airhead wife” of the MSNBC talk show’s other presenter, Joe Scarborough.

In an interview with Fox Business network’s Maria Bartiromo less than an hour later, he went on to sling insults at Harris, Biden’s running mate.

As he did earlier this week, Trump invoked the California senator’s prosecutorial questioning of his second Supreme Court appointment, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, during contentious Senate confirmation hearings in 2018.

“Now you have a — sort of a mad woman, I call her, because she was so angry and such hatred with Justice Kavanaugh,” Trump said. “I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it. She was the angriest of the group. But they were all angry.”

That broadside came after Harris delivered a personal blow to Trump during her debut appearance with Biden on Wednesday.

“He inherited the longest economic expansion in history from Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And then, like everything else he inherited, he ran it straight into the ground,” she said at a campaign event in Wilmington, Del.

The president on Thursday next spoke dismissively of New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, pillorying the progressive congresswoman’s policy proposals and seeming to claim she was a “poor student” in college.

“I mean, I won’t say where she went to school. It doesn’t matter,” he said. “This is not even a smart person, other than she’s got a good line of stuff. I mean, she goes out and she — she yaps.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez graduated cum laude from Boston University.

Finally, Trump homed in on perhaps his most frequent governing foil, Pelosi. He predicted Republicans would win back the House from Democrats in the November election and called the highest-ranking woman in American political history “stone-cold crazy.”

The president also revealed that his resistance to certain provisions in the stimulus proposal put forth by Pelosi — such as Postal Service funding and election security grants — is rooted in his distrust of mail-in voting amid the pandemic.

“[Democrats] want 3½ billion dollars for something that will turn out to be fraudulent. That’s election money, basically. They want 3½ billion dollars for the mail-in votes, OK? Universal mail-in ballots. They want 25 billion dollars — billion — for the Post Office,” Trump said.

“Now, they need that money in order to have the Post Office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots,” he added. “By the way, those are just two items. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting.”

Trump has argued that mail-in voting “doesn’t work out well for Republicans,” and has repeatedly claimed that the ballot-casting practice results in widespread incidents of voter fraud.

A recent study found that voting by mail does not benefit one party over another, and cases of election fraud in the U.S. are exceedingly rare. Experts acknowledge there are some slightly higher fraud risks associated with mail-in balloting, but only when proper security measures are not in place.

Despite the president’s erratic messaging Thursday, top White House aides have become increasingly assured about their response to the pandemic — ostensibly the most important factor influencing the outcome of the November election.

But Trump and Kudlow’s latest comments on voting-related stimulus provisions are likely to offer further fodder to congressional Democrats eager to cast the administration’s negotiating priorities as nakedly political.

Meanwhile, the president’s attacks on Brzezinski, Harris, Ocasio-Cortez and Pelosi undermined his recent appeals to female voters less than three months from Election Day — appeals that have been criticized as outdated, potentially sexist and rife with racial undercurrents.

Last month, Trump implored the “Suburban Housewives of America” in a tweet to read an op-ed in The New York Post panning “Joe Biden’s disastrous plans for America’s suburbs.”

The president also boasted last month about pushing low-income housing out of suburban enclaves, tweeting: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”

And on Wednesday, Trump tweeted that the “‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me” in November, insisting they “are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!”

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, the Black lawmaker whose name Trump misspelled in his message, responded online: “Donaled, your racism is showing.”


Source: Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

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