Cornered by social tension and economic collapse, Donald Trump struggles to find a message for November.
Last Thursday, when social protests in the United States were intensifying over the death of George Floyd, President Donald Trump found time to participate for the first time in a meeting of his reelection team. It was a three-hour meeting in Arlington, Virginia, according to journalist Jonathan Swan of Axios.
The composition of that conclave speaks volumes about the upcoming campaign. The first relevant fact is the presence of Nick Ayers, Mike Pence's chief of staff. In the past few weeks, as the image of the Trump government collapsed, the possibility that the president might have to change his running mate for November was becoming apparent in different circles in DC. There was mention of the plan to add a woman or an African American to the ticket. But the presence of Ayers knocks out those speculations. In fact, the meeting outlined a number of proselytizing activities to be led by the vice president.
Another piece of information that has reached the Mexican business community is the presence of Corey Lewandowsky, a territorial operator who has a cyclical relationship with Trump, who has fired him at least twice but he always returns. Lewandowsky is the link between some Mexican magnates and the president of the United States. He was the one who collected discreet contributions for the President's inauguration in 2017.
In terms of polls, Trump has again chosen the consultant Tony Fabrizio, who is in charge of measuring the president's image at the Republican base. Fabrizio was caught up in the Russian interference plot during the 2016 election and had therefore taken a back seat on the presidential inner circle.
At least two major absences from the last election have been reported at these first meetings. Neither Steve Bannon nor Kellyanne Conway are there anymore. This is another important development for Mexico since they were the main promoters of the anti-immigrant discourse during the first campaign. This reinforces the thesis that this time, heading towards November, the "external enemy" will be China, the country that will be singled out as the main culprit of the Covid-19 crisis.
The whole campaign is being run by Brad Parscale, whose actions will be under the constant scrutiny of the media because of the Cambridge Analytica affair. Parscale was in charge of digital communications four years ago and will now take on the role of Conway.
"The real power is fear," Trump told journalist Bob Woodward in a March 2016 interview. The current state of the U.S. is very much in line with that belief. The presidential campaign team will seek to portray Joe Biden as someone who cannot be trusted to recover the economy post-pandemic.
The enigma to be unveiled in the coming election is the extent to which that discourse of fear can penetrate a highly stressed electorate. Four years ago it was effective in a relatively stable country. Now it is being tested in the face of social tension and economic disaster.
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