Tuesday, 27 Oct 2020

Backed Into a Corner

Facing growing deficits in the polls, President Trump is begging for votes, lashing out at enemies and spreading more false conspiracy theories.

By Lisa Lerer

Hi. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I’m Lisa Lerer, your host.

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Generally, it isn’t a great sign when a candidate starts begging for votes.

But that’s what President Trump did last night, when he pleaded with a crucial voting bloc to support his candidacy.

“Suburban women, will you please like me?” the president said at a rally in Johnstown, Pa., a distressed steel town. “Please. Please.”

These are not the words of a man who thinks he’s running a winning re-election campaign. For a president who loves to throw around the word “loser,” facing the possibility of losing hasn’t been easy.

As is typical with Mr. Trump, he hasn’t been able to conceal his anxieties. “Can you imagine if you lose to a guy like this?” he said last night, referring to Joe Biden. “It’s unbelievable.”

Of course, plenty can happen over the next three weeks to change the dynamics of this race. And Mr. Trump will get a high-profile opportunity to reach voters tomorrow night, when he’ll take the stage for a town-hall-style event broadcast on NBC, opposite Mr. Biden’s event on ABC. (If you want to follow both at the same time, join us tomorrow night for our live chat.)

It’s not the ideal setting for the president: He is known to perform poorly at such intimate campaign events, given his struggles to show empathy, and there’s been little evidence that voters will move back to his side upon hearing more from him.

The president’s worries have been particularly striking this week, right when he should be marking a crowning achievement of his first term. With Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings underway, Mr. Trump is close to delivering on a decades-long conservative project to shift the Supreme Court to the right.

Yet, instead of focusing on that win, Mr. Trump lashed out against Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey yesterday, calling him a “total loser” after Senator Booker pressed Judge Barrett on her support for the Affordable Care Act.

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