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Trump keeps low profile while Biden faces furor over candidacy

JACK GRUBER / USA TODAY
                                Former President Donald Trump, left, during the debate at CNN’s studios in Atlanta on June 27.
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JACK GRUBER / USA TODAY

Former President Donald Trump, left, during the debate at CNN’s studios in Atlanta on June 27.

Former President Donald Trump has learned a key rule of politics: Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.

The presumptive Republican nominee has mostly disappeared from the national stage in the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance, clearing way for Democrats’ anxieties to overwhelm the news cycle and ratchet up political pressure on his opponent.

Aside from a celebratory rally last Friday, Trump has largely gone silent — even canceling a planned television interview with a Virginia network, according to local outlet WVEC-TV/13News Now.

After flirting with announcing his vice presidential pick in the days before the debate, his campaign reverted to its original plan to unveil the pick closer to the Republican convention.

Trump has been rewarded by an opponent in freefall, with polls showing the Republican candidate widening his lead over the president both nationally and in swing states while Democratic lawmakers openly declare that they don’t believe their party will retain control of the White House in November.

The former president and his advisers concede they don’t know how the episode will resolve itself, and that they’re not sure how Biden withdrawing from the ticket might impact the race’s dynamics. Vice President Kamala Harris, in particular, could offer voters a younger face and offset inroads Trump has made with women, independents and voters of color.

“I’m going to show up and I’m going to campaign whether it’s him or somebody else,” Trump said in an interview with Richmond, Virginia, radio station WRVA.

But Trump’s relative self-restraint has given Republican strategists hope that he’ll be able to avoid pitfalls of his own making through the campaign’s final four months.

“Trump can be a disciplined messenger when he wants to be,” Republican strategist Doug Heye said in an interview. “By staying out of the spotlight — not announcing a veep pick, for instance — he keeps the very negative spotlight on Biden.”

Democrats, by contrast, have desperately tried to bring Trump’s behavior back into the headlines — to no avail. Biden’s bid to focus attention on Trump’s conduct after the Supreme Court offered a broad interpretation of presidential immunity was quickly overwhelmed by his own political woes.

Aides at Biden’s Wilmington, Delaware, headquarters have said returning focus to Trump is essential as the president charts an increasingly narrow path back to competitiveness. On Wednesday, his team released a new ad arguing Trump “already led an insurrection and threatened to be a dictator.”

“We must remind people of the choice in this election,” Biden’s campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez and chair Jen O’Malley Dillon said in an email to staff.

Publicly, Trump has commented little on the calls for Biden to drop out of the race and the growing uncertainty within Democratic ranks, though he did express skepticism in his WRVA interview.

“If he doesn’t want that to happen, then it can’t happen because he has the votes,” Trump said Monday. “He’s got all these delegates.”

Laying low has offered the former president other advantages. For one, his campaign has avoided spending money on costly rallies — helping to preserve a cash advantage over the president. It’s also allowed for some holiday-week golfing at Trump’s Bedminster club in New Jersey.

Trump and his top advisers have expressed skepticism that Biden would step aside, but have ratcheted up attacks on Harris and other Democrats as the clamor for the president to exit the race has grown.

In a statement today, Trump senior advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles argued Democrats have purposely hid the truth of Biden’s physical and mental state.

“President Trump will beat any Democrat on November 5th because he has a proven record,” they said, going on to call Harris a “cackling co-pilot.”

MAGA Inc., the political action committee supporting Trump’s bid, released a statement calling Harris the administration’s “invasion czar” — in reference to the vice president’s portfolio addressing the root causes of migration — and attacking her record on immigration and the economy.

A post-debate CNN survey released Tuesday found that Harris was polling better than Biden in a hypothetical matchup against Trump. While the Republican candidate led Harris 47% to 45%, he was favored over Biden by a 49% to 43% margin.

The National Republican Congressional Committee released an ad on X, formerly known as Twitter, today that highlighted Biden’s age and reminded voters that Harris would be next in line.

“This November: Vote Republican. Stop Kamala,” the ad read, while videos of Harris laughing played to the tune of ominous music.

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This story was distribued by Tribune Content Agency.

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