Trump, Biden signal how ugly the campaign will be


The 2020 general election campaign has already become a slugfest—and it’s only just beginning.

President Trump on Tuesday shared a video on social media showing his opponent Joe Biden’s campaign logo on a coffin. 

The video was meant to telegraph the Trump campaign’s sentiment that Biden’s campaign is dead after he said last week that black voters who can’t choose between himself and the president “ain’t black.” 

It follows a weekend on insults from Trump to Biden. 

Asked to talk about Biden’s strength as a competitor, Trump came up empty and added an insult about Biden’s mental acumen.

“Well, I would have said experience but he doesn’t really have experience because I don’t think he remembers what he did yesterday,” the president told Sharyl Attkisson on her show “Full Measure” before adding, “he was never known as a smart person.” 

He also shared a tweet from Fox News commentator Brit Hume that appeared to mock Biden for wearing a mask in public during a visit he made to Delaware’s War Memorial Plaza on Memorial Day. Health experts have recommended the wearing of masks in public settings, though White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Tuesday said Biden didn’t need to do so since he was social distancing during the visit. 

Biden has been no shrinking violet when it comes to Trump.

Team Biden in a 30-second ad on Sunday that blasted Trump for playing golf during a pandemic that has killed nearly 100,000 Americans. 

The back-and-forth underscores how negative the 2020 race is likely to be. 

“This is going to make 2016 seem like ice cream in the park,” said one former aide on Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. “It’s already so much nastier than even I anticipated.” 

The Clinton-Trump contest was itself a battle of insults and negativity. 

During that cycle, voters witnessed Trump call on Russia to hack into Clinton’s emails. He also led crowds in cheers of “lock her up.” 

After the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump talking about grabbing women by the genitals was released, Trump invited women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to a presidential debate against Hillary Clinton. 

Trump and his campaign have made it clear it will be a gloves off contest, and strategists say the fact that Trump is behind in polls is only likely to make him go more negative. 

Asked about the negativity,  Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign said “every election is a choice.”

“Voters may know of Joe Biden but they really don’t know much about him. When we finish defining Biden, the choice will be obvious for voters and President Trump wins again,” he said. 

The Real Clear Politics national average of polls shows Biden ahead of Trump 48 percent to 43 percent. 

“Trump is going to drag this into the mud because he’s losing,” said Democratic strategist Joel Payne. “Joe Biden is the more likable and more trusted candidate and the only way Trump can win is slash and burn. So it’s not surprising that this has already gotten nasty.”

Democrats — including Biden allies — say they’re preparing for an onslaught of not just cheap shots and insults but all-time-lows. 

“It’s only going to get worse because the voters are the only referee on bad political behavior and they don’t rule until Election Day,” Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons and host of #ThisisFYI on Facebook and Instagram. “So Biden’s only choice is to fight back or get pummeled. The fray is all there is.” 

Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton said part of Trump’s strategy is to raise doubts about Biden on a few different fronts including his mental acuity and fitness for office. 

Trump’s constant attacks on Biden consistently put him on defense and “showcases he’s not a strong fighter.”

“Voters want someone that they know is tough,” he said. 

Singleton said so far it’s working for Trump. 

“Uncertainty about Biden has slowly increased,” he said. “People just aren’t sure he has what it takes.”

He pointed to specific reports recently that show even Democrats are worried that Biden will be defined by Trump’s attacks.

Democrats say the uptick in attacks by Trump shows his desperation. 

“It’s become cliche to say that politicians only care about getting re-elected, but until President Trump, that actually wasn’t really true,” said David Litt, who served as a speechwriter to President Obama during his administration and is the author of an upcoming book “Democracy in One Book or Less.”

“We’re finally seeing what happens when a campaign is willing to sacrifice anything — national unity, the integrity of our elections, common decency, American lives — in an attempt to win, and it’s not pretty.

Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University said the nation has witnessed other brutal campaigns in recent memory, but that this is only the beginning of what could be a historically mean contest.

“This is like a Trump appetizer plate with a sampling of what is to come,” he said. “Between social media, doctored videos and his rallies this will be a tear down campaign like nobody has ever seen.”


Tags Bill Clinton Donald Trump general election Hillary Clinton Joe Biden negative ads presidential election
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