Trump faces surrogate deficit

Trump faces surrogate deficit
© Getty Images

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJoe Arpaio loses bid for his old position as sheriff Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Trump tees up executive orders on economy but won't sign yet MORE appears to be facing a significant surrogate deficit in a general election battle against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Trump brushes off view that Russia denigrating Biden: 'Nobody's been tougher on Russia than I have' Kanye West 'not denying' his campaign seeks to damage Biden MORE

The challenge Trump faces came to the forefront this week as President Obama and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Whitmer met with Biden days before VP announcement: report The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election MORE (D-Mass.) made headlines with their endorsements of Clinton. 

ADVERTISEMENT

This summer and into the fall, Clinton promises to send the president, first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaDemocratic convention lineup to include Ocasio-Cortez, Clinton, Warren: reports Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates warn girls' education at risk due to pandemic Michelle Obama on depression: 'I'm doing just fine' MORE and Warren on the road. All three could be important battleground surrogates for her campaign. 

Former President Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonGiuliani says Black Lives Matter is 'domestic terrorist' group We have the resources to get through this crisis, only stupidity is holding us back Biden needs to bring religious Americans into the Democratic fold MORE will also hit the road for his wife, and Vice President Biden has indicated that he will be on the stump. It's not clear whether Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election Warren urges investment in child care workers amid pandemic Progressive candidate Bush talks about her upset primary win over Rep. Clay MORE (I-Vt.) will join the onslaught, though Democrats certainly hope he'll be in the fold. 

Trump, in contrast, can promise few notable names. 

Over the last year, the presumptive presidential nominee has feuded with his party's last two standard-bearers, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCNN's Ana Navarro to host Biden roundtable on making 'Trump a one-term president' Mark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Prominent conservatives question Jerry Falwell Jr. vacation photo MORE and Mitt Romney. Neither is expected to campaign for him.

Trump has also feuded with the Bush family and GOP stars Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Negotiators 'far apart' as talks yield little ahead of deadline Wary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Trump-backed Hagerty wins Tennessee GOP Senate primary MORE and Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden From a Republican donor to Senate GOP: Remove marriage penalty or risk alienating voters MORE, both of whom he defeated in the primary. 

Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson took to Twitter on Thursday to highlight the expected lack of support for Trump from former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

“Last two Democratic presidents now support [the] Democratic nominee,” Ferguson tweeted. “Last two Republican presidents DON’T support [the] Republican nominee.”

It’s possible Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' MORE (Wis.) and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCoronavirus talks collapse as negotiators fail to reach deal Pelosi, Schumer say White House declined T coronavirus deal COVID-19 bill limiting liability would strike the wrong balance MORE (Ky.) will help Trump, but both criticized the GOP candidate this week, and each will be focused on keeping a majority in his chamber of Congress.

“It’s a problem. It’s a huge problem,” said Republican strategist and columnist for The Hill John Feehery, who says he will support Trump.  “He’s a nonpolitician and that’s been appealing to many people but there are some basics that every campaign needs to have and one is that you have to drive a message. Without a message, it’s hard to have a surrogate operation.”

Trump's best surrogates could be New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose ratings are underwater in his own state, stalwart conservative Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe 'pitcher of warm spit' — Veepstakes and the fate of Mike Pence FBI officials hid copies of Russia probe documents fearing Trump interference: book Tuberville breaks DC self-quarantine policy to campaign MORE (R-Ala.) and Trump family members, such as his daughter Ivanka Trump. 

In an email, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said the billionaire businessman will have a host of campaign surrogates.

“We have many such [surrogates] such as Governor Chris Christie, Senator Jeff Sessions, Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and many more,” she said.

Yet it is hard to see that trio outgunning the Democratic stars that Clinton can send out on her behalf.

Sessions is a conservative favorite who is popular with grassroots Republicans, but whether he can extend Trump's appeal is unclear.

And Gingrich has irked Trump with some of his remarks.

This week, he went off script, calling Trump’s racially charged comments about U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel “inexcusable.”

And in a Facebook Live segment, he said Clinton’s speech on Tuesday night was “spectacular” and “very effective.”

Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who served as an adviser to Romney during his presidential bid, called Trump’s surrogates “the Trump Green Room brigade.”

He argued too many of Trump’s supporters are relying on the candidate’s Twitter feed to figure out what to say.

“They’re like independent contractors,” said Madden, who is not supporting Trump. “And it’s not a seamless and coordinated response. It’s a mishmash” of comments.