2020 Watch: Trump navigates chaos after his Oklahoma rally
NEW YORK (AP) - The president's policies are moving fast. What we see in a new week of the 2020 campaign:
Days to next area code (New York and Kentucky): 1
Days until general election: 134
President Donald Trump's campaign relaunch has got off to a rocky start, and his Republican critics are getting louder as coronavirus infections continue to increase.
There were thousands of free seats in the Oklahoma arena where Trump hosted its comeback rally on Saturday, an embarrassing development at an event that was intended to demonstrate the republican president's strength. Helpers tried to explain the bad looks while juggling harmful headlines on other fronts.
The much anticipated book by Trump's former national security adviser, John Bolton, will be officially released this week. Bolton is the youngest in a long line of former Trump aid workers who triggers dark warnings about the president's job performance. At the same time, the president is trying to distance himself from the release of Attorney General William Barr against the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, who was forced to investigate Trump's allies.
As Trump navigates the ongoing chaos, voters in New York and Kentucky will vote in Tuesday's elections to test the nation's ability to hold fair elections in the age of the coronavirus.
THE BIG QUESTIONS
What happened in Tulsa?
The political world was really surprised to see thousands of vacancies at Trump's Oklahoma weekend comeback rally. Critics often question the president's understanding of politics, his discipline, and his character, but before Tulsa, few people questioned his ability to pack an arena.
Was the relatively low turnout just an anomaly caused by fears of protests, pandemics or social media trolls? Or was it a legitimate sign that the energy behind Trump's re-election is weakening?
For a president obsessed with the crowd, this is clearly an embarrassing development that will continue into the week, even if Joe Biden might have had trouble attracting a crowd like Trump. And perhaps more importantly, the pointer in Trump's campaign will intensify before a possible personnel change.
Will the coordination problems continue?
Primary voters in New York and Kentucky offer another high-profile test for the country's electoral system on Tuesday, which continues to have concerns about the corona virus. Campaign experts are concerned after a series of worrying recent trends in countries such as Georgia, Pennsylvania and Nevada.
Voters in Georgia waited up to five hours to cast ballots earlier in the month, an issue affecting color pickers disproportionately. And an increase in postal voting in Pennsylvania, among others, led to days of delay in reporting on the final results.
Trump and Biden are facing no real opposition this week, so we'll be paying special attention to a handful of important Democratic primaries in Congress. In Kentucky, Democrats will decide whether establishment favorite Amy McGrath or progressive outsider Charles Booker will play Mitch McConnell in the fall. And in New York, former school principal Jamaal Bowman has a legitimate chance to defeat 16-year-old incumbent Eliot Engel.
Has democratic consciousness become a problem?
As Trump's chaotic presidency continues, Democrats are under increasing pressure to protect themselves from superconsciousness. This is easier said than done, especially since Trump's own advisors are privately concerned about his prospects for re-election and a series of public surveys raise the prospect of a Biden victory.
Biden's numbers may be strong after more than four months, but it's easy to forget that in early primary competitions he had a hard time getting the voters energized. And few progressive activists seem to be really excited about his candidacy.
Biden's campaign and his allies will have their hands full in the coming weeks and months to maintain a real sense of urgency among his followers. History shows that the fear of Trump alone is not enough.
How much damage will Bolton do?
While the worst details have been reported, Bolton's book "The Room Where It Happened" is scheduled to be officially released on Tuesday. That said, Trump is far from overcoming the negative attention to the book that ensured he remained a bestseller by unsuccessfully suing to block its publication.
Bolton, who worked with Trump in the White House for almost a year and a half, has already described the president as unsuitable for office. He leads a remarkable list of people who have worked closely with Trump and have raised similar concerns.
For just the past few weeks, former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has described Trump as a threat to the constitution. Trump's longest-serving chief of staff, John Kelly, agreed; and one of the government's highest-ranking African Americans, Mary Elizabeth Taylor, stepped down to protest Trump's stance on racial justice.
Will Trump's attacks on Biden's intellectual capacity work?
To prevent anyone from believing that some things could be banned in 2020, the Trump campaign last week intensified its attacks on Biden's age, health, and mental performance by launching a website that said he was "barely there." . Among a series of Biden's career lowlights that tend to gap, the website notes that Biden forgot when he had a brain aneurysm: "Both brain aneurysms were in 1988."
Trump's campaign is aware that Biden has removed some of his support from older Americans, a trend that could prove extremely disadvantageous for Trump in several states in November, especially in Florida. Is this the kind of message Trump could help get older voters back? One thing is clear: the deeply personal attack has become a pillar of Trump's 2020 strategy, and the President's team has the money and willingness to take it as far as necessary.
The last thought
As bad as it looks for Trump's re-election, 134 days are a lifetime in presidential politics. His team has just started using his enormous resources to convince the voters of the swing state. The candidates still have to debate and Biden's shortcomings do not go away.
2020 Watch runs every Monday and gives a look at the coming week in the 2020 elections.
Find out with AP experts about the 2020 campaign in our weekly "Ground Game" political podcast.
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