Former Obama campaign staffer: Trump is using Obama’s re-election ‘playbook’

June 10, 2019

Ben LaBolt, the former national press secretary for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, wrote in The Atlantic Sunday that he sees President Donald Trump using the same effective strategy ahead of 2020 that Obama used to get re-elected in 2012. 

“Presidents who have recently won re-election seeded their victories not in the final sprint before Election Day, but by executing a two-year campaign to exploit a contentious primary on the other side, reconnect with their base of supporters, and define the election as a choice, not a referendum,” LaBolt wrote.

Trump has spent more than $5 million on Facebook ads in 2019, LaBolt noted. And although Trump has announced a formal re-election campaign launch on June 18, he has actually had a beefed-up campaign staff since the beginning of the year.

Focusing on the base

If their base isn’t fired up to see a president get re-elected, that spells trouble for any campaign. But LaBolt observed that Trump is appealing to older voters and women in his base with messages about immigration and attacks on “fake news” in the media.

Indeed, Trump is driving the narrative, and that is very bad for a Democratic field of some two dozen candidates that still has a lot of narrowing down to do before the general election season begins in 2020. The president is outspending Democrats six-to-one on digital advertising, which is the best way to reach voters today.

Then there are the rallies. Trump is filling arenas to capacity with overflow crowds in strategic battleground locations like Green Bay, Wisconsin and Panama City, Florida, with corresponding bumps in local polling in the weeks afterward.

Trump knows that re-election isn’t going to be a cakewalk, no matter how he makes it sound in his tweets. And he is working hard at campaigning long before the usual push begins.

Democratic donors waiting it out

Meanwhile, who can choose from among more than 20 Democrat candidates? Sure, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are at the front of the pack right now, but they aren’t raising nearly the amount Sanders and Hillary Clinton did in 2007. Democrat donors are clearly waiting for dropouts before they open their pockets.

Meanwhile, Trump is ignoring early polls that show him losing to Biden or Sanders or even Kamala Harris, within the margin of error. After all, early polls always skew Democrat, and it’s still pretty close in most cases.

It certainly seems like there has never been president, or a candidate, as hated as Trump. Democrats even attempted a silent coup to get rid of him through the trumped-up Mueller investigation. And even now, Democrats are looking to impeach him just because they control the House and have the votes to do it.

Still, Trump has managed to ramp up support from his Republican base, as well as from others who have seen positive changes in the economy under Trump, like tax cuts that have spurred record job growth. Economic growth is generally a huge factor in re-election campaigns, although Obama was re-elected in 2012 despite the slowest recovery ever from a recession.

2020 is surely going to be an interesting year.

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Jen Krausz

Jen Krausz is a Conservative Institute staff writer. A lifelong member of the Republican Party, she has an English degree from a liberal arts college and has contributed to numerous publications including Newsmax.