When President Trump makes his reelection pitch to voters, some Republicans are concerned they don’t hear much talk of a detailed second-term agenda.
Trump often speaks of digging the country out of its current economic problems — “renewing, restoring, rebuilding” is how his campaign frames it — and avoiding Democratic challenger Joe Biden’s preferred policies. But conspicuously missing are new, big-ticket agenda items. In 2016, Trump promised to renegotiate specific trade deals, cut taxes, and build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.
“Let’s talk about a second term … What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast?” asked Fox News’s Sean Hannity in a Green Bay town hall with the president on Thursday night. “And what are your top priority items for a second term?”
“Well, one of the things that will be really great — you know, the word ‘experience’ is still good,” Trump replied. “I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word ‘experience’ is a very important word.”
Trump went on to talk about how little time he spent in Washington before becoming president, how he has gotten to know the major political players since he has been in office, and what a mistake it was to hire “idiot” John Bolton as his national security adviser. “You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody,” he said. “You don’t have to kill people.”
No top priority items were mentioned. “It’s a huge problem,” said a veteran Republican strategist who requested anonymity to speak candidly. “And he obviously has no strategy at all now that the virus is interrupting his strength on the economy. He needs to get a better answer than, ‘I’ve done a good job.’ There are a multitude of issues that the country is facing and that he needs to have a plan and strategy on.”
Others say a contrast with Biden is what’s needed. “While it is customary for presidents seeking a second term to provide voters with a vision of what they want to accomplish if they are reelected, President Trump’s mission is clear — to retool and rebuild the country and the economy in the wake of the Chinese virus,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “Yes, Trump should drive that message home at every opportunity, but this is not what is currently dogging his campaign given how little Biden has talked about his own vision for America’s future.”
“Trump’s messaging efforts should focus on making the case to a majority of the voters in the battleground states that the United States under a Biden presidency would be an unmitigated disaster,” O’Connell added. He said Trump should make the case the Biden is a “senile” hypocrite on the China issue who is “a willing Trojan horse for socialism and the far-left of the Democratic Party.”
Trump has tried. “He will be run by a radical, fringe group of lunatics,” he said of Biden in Green Bay, suggesting the Bernie Sanders wing lost the primaries but would win the governing turf wars. Trump also tied Biden to the rioters, looters, and statute-topplers seen in big cities, saying, “Joe Biden would have that be the whole country.”
“Before the booming economy was artificially interrupted by an unprecedented pandemic, President Trump’s pro-growth policies, tax cuts, and deregulation delivered record economic success — and he’ll do it again,” said Trump campaign spokeswoman Samantha Zager. “President Trump’s America First vision has benefited Americans in every corner of the nation, including historic low unemployment for nearly every minority group, record job growth, freer and fairer trade deals, strong national security, and stopping endless wars. In his second term, President Trump will continue to deliver on those ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept.’ Joe Biden would be a disaster economically and would put America’s interests second — that’s why he refuses to be held accountable to the American public.”
Not everyone is convinced that is sufficient. “A strategy of beating up on Joe Biden will bring many of his 2016 supporters back, but it will not get him over 50%,” said Republican pollster Frank Luntz. “He has to look towards the future. He has to tell people what comes next. It’s not enough to focus on what he’s done.”
“He needs a plan on how to get the economy running again,” said the first strategist. “Now that he’s suing to get rid of Obamacare, he needs a healthcare plan. With China threatening to pull out of phase one of the trade agreement, he needs a new plan. He needs an infrastructure plan. He needs a plan to heal this country.”
Or maybe just a plan to define Biden. “Poll after poll suggests that Biden may have high name ID, but he is largely undefined in the voters’ eyes,” O’Connell said. “So, this is where the sweet spot is for Trump, and if he can hit the right notes on this front, he will be reelected.”
The post Republicans wonder where Trump misplaced his second-term agenda appeared first on Washington Examiner.