Head­winds for Trump in bid to re­peat vic­to­ries in Mid­west

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - NATION | WORLD - BY BRIAN SLODYSKO AND JILL COLVIN As­so­ci­ated Press

WASHINGTON

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is mak­ing a late re­elec­tion pitch to vot­ers Satur­day in Michi­gan and Wisconsin, states in the Up­per Mid­west that were in­stru­men­tal to his 2016 vic­tory but may now be slip­ping from his grasp.

He’s fac­ing head­winds not only in na­tional polling, which shows Demo­crat Joe Bi­den lead­ing, but also in bat­tle­ground sur­veys.

The Trump cam­paign has largely re­treated from the

TV ad­ver­tis­ing in the Mid­west, shift­ing much of its money to Sun Belt states such as Florida, North Carolina, Ari­zona and Ge­or­gia, as well as Penn­syl­va­nia.

Trump sched­uled events in Muskegon, Michi­gan, and Janesville, Wisconsin, and stops Sun­day in Ne­vada and Mon­day in Ari­zona as the Nov. 3 elec­tion nears.

The pres­i­dent con­tin­ues to be dogged by his han­dling of the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

Wisconsin broke the record for new pos­i­tive coro­n­avirus cases on Fri­day — the third time that’s hap­pened in a week. The state also hit record highs for daily deaths and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions this past week.

Bi­den once again had no pub­lic events planned for Satur­day. But in a memo to sup­port­ers, cam­paign man­ager Jen O’Mal­ley Dil­lon warned about be­com­ing com­pla­cent.

“The re­al­ity is that this race is far closer than some of the pun­ditry we’re see­ing on Twit­ter and on TV would sug­gest,” she wrote in the memo, a copy of which was ob­tained by The As­so­ci­ated Press. “If we learned any­thing from 2016, it’s that we can­not un­der­es­ti­mate Don­ald Trump or his abil­ity to claw his way back into con­tention in the fi­nal days of a cam­paign, through what­ever smears or un­der­handed tac­tics he has at his dis­posal.”

Trump is keep­ing up an ag­gres­sive cam­paign sched­ule de­spite his re­cent bout of coro­n­avirus, which hos­pi­tal­ized him for sev­eral days.

The dif­fi­culty of se­cur­ing a sec­ond term was ap­par­ent Fri­day when Trump cam­paigned in Ge­or­gia. No Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial con­tender has lost the state since 1992, but polling shows Trump and Bi­den in a tight con­test. Trump also has had to court vot­ers in Iowa, which he car­ried by al­most 10 per­cent­age points four years ago.

The lat­est cam­paign fundrais­ing fig­ures from the Trump team sug­gest he’s likely the first in­cum­bent pres­i­dent in the mod­ern era to face a money dis­ad­van­tage. Af­ter build­ing a mas­sive cash edge, his cam­paign spent lav­ishly, while Bi­den kept ex­penses low and ben­e­fited from an out­pour­ing of do­na­tions that saw him raise nearly $1 bil­lion over the past three months. That gives Bi­den a mas­sive cash ad­van­tage with just over two weeks to go be­fore the elec­tion.

In the hours be­fore his ral­lies on Satur­day, Trump fo­cused on set­tling a score with a mem­ber of his own party, Repub­li­can Sen. Ben Sasse of Ne­braska.

Re­fer­ring to him as “Lit­tle Ben Sasse,” Trump tweeted that the se­na­tor was a “li­a­bil­ity to the Repub­li­can Party, and an em­bar­rass­ment to the Great State of Ne­braska.”

The se­ries of tweets came af­ter Sasse told con­stituents dur­ing a tele­phone town­hall on Wed­nes­day that Trump has “flirted with white su­prem­a­cists,” mocks Chris­tian evan­gel­i­cals in pri­vate and “kisses dic­ta­tors’ butts.”

Sasse, who is up for re­elec­tion this year in the strongly Repub­li­can state, went on to crit­i­cize the pres­i­dent’s han­dling of the coro­n­avirus and said Trump’s fam­ily has treated the pres­i­dency “like a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity.”

Trump twit­ter broad­side blasted Sasse as “the least ef­fec­tive of our 53 Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors, and a per­son who truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great.”

Sasse’s spokesman, James Weg­mann, tweeted in re­sponse that Sasse is fo­cus­ing on help­ing Repub­li­cans re­tain their Se­nate ma­jor­ity — it’s now 53-47 — and

“he’s not go­ing to waste a sin­gle minute on tweets.”

CAR­LOS OSO­RIO AP

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ar­rives at a cam­paign rally Satur­day in Nor­ton Shores, Michi­gan, sur­rounded by thou­sands of sup­port­ers, de­spite polls that con­tinue to show him lag­ging be­hind Demo­cratic nom­i­nee Joe Bi­den.

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