Biden campaign says voters will reject 'desperate' Trump strategy

“Trump is desperate not to have this campaign be about his failure on the central issues in front of the country," Biden strategist Mike Donilon told reporters.
Image: Joe Biden speaks at a town hall in Sumter, S.C., on Feb. 28, 2020.
Joe Biden speaks at a town hall in Sumter, S.C., on Feb. 28, 2020.Jim Watson / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Mike Memoli and Marianna Sotomayor

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden’s campaign said Friday it is bracing for an unprecedented deluge of attacks from President Donald Trump and his allies even as they expressed confidence the public will reject what they called a “desperate” scorched-earth strategy meant to distract the country from his failure to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

In their first extensive strategy briefing since the former vice president became the apparent Democratic presidential nominee, the campaign’s top strategists also laid out their path to securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win and outlined steps they’ve taken in the past two months to retool their campaign for the general election.

In a Zoom briefing with reporters, Biden’s team acknowledged the unprecedented challenge of campaigning during a global pandemic that has disrupted American life and left the candidate himself confined to his home in Delaware. But they said that the kinds of distraction tactics employed by the president and his allies could even backfire as voters will instead be seeking solutions to the twin economic and health crises they’re now facing.

“Trump is desperate not to have this campaign be about his failure on the central issues in front of the country, and I think it's gonna be real hard to change that subject,” said Mike Donilon, Biden’s chief strategist. “In some ways I think the public is actually going to react pretty negatively to it.”

In the past week, the president and Republicans on Capitol Hill have either launched or called for investigations on issues like the Obama administration’s handling of investigations of key Trump campaign figures, and of Biden’s son’s foreign business dealings.

Meanwhile Trump’s campaign has begun a paid advertising campaign accusing Biden of being soft on China and also raised questions about the 77-year old’s physical and mental health.

“If Trump and his allies try and drive a different sort of conversation this campaign, I think it's gonna be rejected,” Donilon said. “And it's gonna be rejected in no small part because people have a really good understanding who Joe Biden is — and that has been an underestimated part about him in this race in the very beginning. People know, and they have enormous respect and regard for him.”

Biden campaign officials unveiled what they believe would be their pathway to clinching the presidency, which requires protecting six states that Democrats carried in 2016, to get them to at least 232, and winning back the traditional five battleground states including North Carolina, Maine and Iowa. O’Malley Dillon said that they can win the presidency alone based on Biden’s current polling lead in key battlegrounds of Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona.

The campaign is aiming to have 600 organizing staff in battleground states in June, including leadership staff, while also maintaining a strong digital presence by unveiling a new reliable livestream website.

The campaign’s strategy also sets their sights on expanding the map by aggressively targeting Georgia, Texas and Arizona.

“In 2020, we believe that there will be battleground states that have never been battleground states before, Arizona top of the list,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said.

While the campaign has recently come under fire from minority groups for not having a set strategy for appealing to constituencies like Hispanics and young voters, O’Malley Dillon said that they are not focusing all their effort to cater to one coalition as much as they would want the campaign to do so.

“We believe that we do not have to make a choice between one group or another group in terms of how we are going to win this, we showed that in the primary, we believe we’ll show that again in the general election.”