Trump banking on 'silent majority' to carry him to victory

He fails to dent Biden and is losing support over harsh response to anti-racism protests

President Donald Trump is offering a vision of chaos under his opponent, in which Mr Joe Biden's desire to "abolish the American Way of Life" would turn US cities into crime-infested wastelands.
President Donald Trump is offering a vision of chaos under his opponent, in which Mr Joe Biden's desire to "abolish the American Way of Life" would turn US cities into crime-infested wastelands. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has mounted a strident defence of his wavering reelection bid with about 100 days to go in a campaign that has seen him underwater in the polls - and banking on the "silent majority" he vowed will bring him victory.

The 74-year-old Republican has struggled with setbacks on numerous fronts, facing rising criticism over his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak and the resulting economic pain, as well as failing to land punches on his Democratic opponent, Mr Joe Biden.

In the latest blow to his hopes to be returned to the White House on Nov 3, polls released on Sunday showed his support cratering in three critical battleground states.

"The Trump Campaign has more ENTHUSIASM, according to many, than any campaign in the history of our great Country - Even more than 2016," Mr Trump thundered on Twitter on Sunday.

He added: "Biden has NONE! The Silent Majority will speak on NOVEMBER THIRD!!! Fake Suppression Polls & Fake News will not save the Radical Left."

The 77-year-old Mr Biden, who says he is fighting for "the soul of America", implored voters to make Mr Trump a one-term president.

"In 100 days, we have the chance to set our nation on a new path. One where we finally live up to our highest ideals and everyone has a fair shot at success," he tweeted.

With the coronavirus killing more than 1,000 Americans a day, the President, who is at his best soaking up the adulation of supporters at live events, has been forced to cancel his rallies and ditch the Republican convention in Florida next month.

SHORTCOMINGS

The pandemic, which has infected 4.2 million Americans and killed almost 150,000, is ravaging the US economy and - with the outbreak largely under control in Europe and Asia - has highlighted the shortcomings of the US response.

The President has also lost support over his handling of historic uprisings against racism and police brutality, angering local communities with incendiary rhetoric and a pledge to "surge" federal agents into numerous major cities.

That all is not well in Team Trump's misfiring reelection bid was perhaps most evident in the President's recent demotion of bravado campaign manager Brad Parscale.

With overall approval ratings permanently stuck in the low 40 per cent range, Mr Trump is the first president to seek reelection after impeachment.

Mr Trump is offering a vision of chaos under his opponent, in which Mr Biden's desire to "abolish the American Way of Life" would turn US cities into crime-infested wastelands. However, he has largely failed to expand his fervently loyal base with a pitch that boils down to claiming Mr Biden will have Americans "cowering to radical left-wing mobs".

New polling of registered voters from three swing states released on Sunday showed Mr Trump trailing badly.

In Florida, the President garnered 46 per cent support against 51 per cent for Mr Biden - while in Arizona, the challenger was four points ahead, with 49 per cent.

In Michigan, Mr Biden's lead stands at 52 per cent to 40 per cent.

Mr Trump carried all three states in 2016, although he won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes.

'DIVISIVENESS AND DYSFUNCTION'

Meanwhile, Mr Biden is running an unprecedented campaign from his home in Delaware, with no rallies, few news conferences and the space to sit back and watch Mr Trump lurch ever deeper into trouble.

But the President is keen to remind those who discount him that, with grim polling in 2016, he comfortably beat all comers for the nomination before defeating Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Maryland's Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who did not vote for Mr Trump in 2016 and is seen as a potential presidential candidate in 2024, told CNN on Sunday that he was unlikely to endorse the President this time around.

"The election is 100 days away. I think early voting starts in 60 days or less. We're getting very close for the American people to make that decision," he said.

"I think, quite frankly, a lot of people like me are frustrated with the divisiveness and dysfunction on both sides and don't feel like we have two great choices."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2020, with the headline Trump banking on 'silent majority' to carry him to victory. Subscribe