Trump Campaign Focuses on 2 Rivals (Neither Is the Front-Runner)
Fascinating look into the campaign thinking of Trump and his aides in this article. See what you think.
"President Donald Trump’s advisers see Sen. Bernie Sanders as their ideal Democratic opponent in November and have been doing what they can to elevate his profile and bolster his chances of winning the Iowa caucuses, according to Republicans familiar with the plans.
But their new focus on Sanders, I-Vt., comes at a time the president himself has been closely watching Michael R. Bloomberg, a late arrival to the Democratic primary race, unnerved by his campaign spending and his suggestion he might spend $1 billion of his own fortune on opposing Trump, even if he does not emerge as the nominee.
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Over the past few weeks, aides to the president . . . see attacking [Sanders] as a way to excite his base and draw attention away from other Democrats.
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“Wow! Crazy Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls, looking very good against his opponents in the Do Nothing Party,” Trump posted Sunday on Twitter, after a Des Moines Register poll showed Sanders leading in the state. “So what does this all mean? Stay tuned!”
“It means you’re going to lose,” Sanders tweeted in response.
At a rally last week in Toledo, Ohio, the president singled out Sanders for his criticism of Trump’s Jan. 3 drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani at Baghdad International Airport.
“Bernie is going up,” Trump said. “He’s surging. Crazy Bernie is surging.”
Most of the president’s advisers see Sanders, if he were to become the nominee, as helping to solve Trump’s problem with suburban voters in states like Virginia, where the 2018 midterm elections showed that moderate and independent voters have recoiled from the president’s behavior, controversies or policy positions.
But some have concerns that Sanders might be more durable in the Rust Belt states, like Michigan and Wisconsin, with high concentrations of white working-class voters that emerged as trouble spots for the president in the 2018 elections.
The advisers say that in their voter research, Sanders registers with his own supporters as authentic — the same quality that Trump’s base ascribed to the president in 2016. They view Sanders as a more difficult opponent than Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., but less of a challenge than Biden.
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In recent days, Trump’s team has been interested in focusing attention on Sanders’ comments after the strike that killed Soleimani, arguing that he will appear too dovish for the general electorate.
. . .Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, said in a statement [,]“. . . over the last two weeks, Bernie Sanders has proved himself to be dangerous — not as an opponent but as a potential president — by excusing and appeasing Iran’s aggression and belligerence.”
“Bernie Sanders would not protect American interests as president and his weakness is something that begs to be highlighted,” he added.
Sanders’ campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, pointed out that Trump ran as the candidate who “would stop the endless wars” and is now attacking the senator as weak. He added of Trump’s efforts to tar Sanders: “There’s no ‘there’ there.”
As for Bloomberg, the president has made clear he is aware of the money Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, is pouring into the race — especially into the attack ads hitting him in 118 media markets across the country. . . .
“Mini Mike Bloomberg is spending a lot of money on False Advertising,” Trump tweeted, going on to misrepresent his role in the health care debate. “I was the person who saved Pre-Existing Conditions in your Healthcare, you have it now, while at the same time winning the fight to rid you of the expensive, unfair and very unpopular Individual Mandate.”
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. . . the Trump campaign has waved away concerns about Bloomberg’s spending, arguing that it will only encourage Republican megadonors like Sheldon G. Adelson to spend more money for Trump.
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Campaign finance experts, however, said the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee were underestimating the effect of Bloomberg’s cash infusion into the race and that Trump was right to be concerned.
“If Bloomberg does this, it will be unprecedented in American history,” said Fred Wertheimer, founder and president of Democracy 21, a nonprofit watchdog group. “They will probably have more organizers than the RNC will have. They will have loads of people in the battleground states, they’ll have TV ads, they’ll have digital ads.”
“It will neutralize any financial advantages he thought he had,” Wertheimer said, referring to the president, “and if they’re not worried, they’re kidding themselves.”
That opening sentence says it all: "President Donald Trump’s advisers see Sen. Bernie Sanders as their ideal Democratic opponent in November and have been doing what they can to elevate his profile and bolster his chances of winning the Iowa caucuses, according to Republicans familiar with the plans."
The games politicians play!