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Trump huddles with campaign staff as polls show him trailing Biden

President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE on Thursday met with a group of top campaign officials at the White House to discuss polling and messaging strategies as recent surveys show him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia MORE nationally and in key swing states.

The president huddled with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielGOP in bind over Trump as corporate donations freeze The Memo: Democrats scorn GOP warnings on impeachment Wave of companies cut off donations — much of it to GOP MORE, campaign manager Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE and others to discuss the latest polling, according to a Trump campaign official.

The meeting was focused on strategy, specifically how the campaign can try and define Biden to voters moving forward, the official said.

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"When Joe Biden is defined the president runs very strong against him," the official said.

Trump then held an expanded meeting about messaging in the Cabinet Room of the White House that involved communications staff, during which the president spoke with advisers Katrina Pierson and Paris Dennard about outreach to the black community.

The official stressed the campaign feels confident it can define Biden by contrasting his record with the African American community with Trump's.

The president has in recent days leaned on what he says are ways the black community has benefited under his presidency, including the passage of criminal justice reform at the end of 2018 and low unemployment.

But the president's efforts to appeal to black voters have been complicated by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately infected and killed minorities in the U.S. and led to mass unemployment, and the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

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Trump has offered his condolences to the Floyd family and called his death a "disgrace." But that message has been overshadowed by his insistence that there be "law and order," his threats to send the military into U.S. cities to quell unruly demonstrations, and his condemnation of protesters as "thugs" and "hoodlums." 

Thursday's meeting came at a contentious time for the president in his reelection bid. He is grappling with multiple national crises, and he has seen Biden pull ahead in several polls in recent weeks.

A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Biden with an 11-point advantage nationally. Fox News polls released the same day showed Trump trailing the former vice president in Ohio, Wisconsin and Arizona, three states that are critical to Trump's reelection chances.

Trump won all three states in 2016, and few believed until recently that Ohio might be in play.

The Trump campaign has spent aggressively in states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin with ads that attack Biden on his economic record and his past stances on China.