For the Republican Party, this has been a campaign by, for, and about Donald Trump. The message, the proposal, everything has been Trump. It is difficult to imagine a more personalistic political project. To the point that, at its national convention last August, the party resigned, for the first time in its history, to debate and present a program. The formation, explained the Republican National Committee, "will continue to enthusiastically support the president's America First agenda." Nothing else.
Trump has not concurred with promises, beyond hyperbolic phrases ("we will create the best economy in history", "I will fight for you more than anyone has ever fought"), imprecise concepts ("law and order") or a " agenda for the second term ”that is limited to a list of headlines without development (“ create 100 million jobs in 10 months ”,“ drain the globalist swamp ”). There have been no effective concrete commitments comparable to that effective "let's build the wall" of 2016. The candidate has limited himself to appealing to what he was on the way to achieving until the coronavirus took everything away. And it has played defensively, an unexpected terrain for Trump, creating a fearsome antagonist, the "radical left", ready to sow chaos in the country and deprive it of all of its most sacred essences.
Interestingly, despite four years in the White House, the president has stuck to his character as an outsider in politics. A common attack at his rallies has been to remember that Joe Biden has been in public life for 47 years, as if he were still the one outsider willing to "drain the swamp" of the establishment from Washington. "In this election you have to choose between being ruled by the establishment or for the people, which is us, "said the billionaire tycoon on Sunday in Scranton (Pennsylvania).
The Republican Party is Trump. And Trump is, or at least that is how he has presented himself to his voters, what he has done in these four years. "Let's keep America great," read one of his slogans, a subtle continuation of the "Let's Make America Great Again" that brought him to power in 2016. Little more. Blind faith was being sold. "Four more years," his followers shouted. Four more years of a style, a concept, a character.
"Promises made, promises kept," read another of the slogans. But the phrase is only partially true. He increased military spending and got rid of some regulations, as he promised four years ago. But he did not build the famous border wall: he built just over 300 kilometers, almost entirely improving existing but deteriorated barriers, and Mexico did not pay for it. Nor has it deported all undocumented immigrants, as promised, nor did it rebuild infrastructure, and has only partially reformed all trade agreements with other countries.
Unlike Joe Biden, who has surrounded himself with his party, the Trump campaign has had a single protagonist and a small cast of secondary: basically, his family members and Vice President Mike Pence. The overwhelming personality of the president has been the republican project and he has managed to dominate the media coverage with his rallies, at first in closed spaces and later in the open air, almost always with the motley public and without masks, ignoring the savage health crisis that ruined his project and that it will be the top priority for the candidate that the voters place in the Oval Office. Trump's campaign rallies, according to a Stanford University study published this weekend, produced more than 30,000 COVID-19 infections.
Suddenly, money began to run low. Trump's campaign entered the home stretch at a serious disadvantage to Biden's. Millions had to be cut from already compromised advertising space. They made space in their agendas for states not decisive but where they could raise funds. They bombarded their followers with up to 15 messages a day asking for donations. Biden started October with almost three times as much money as Trump, 177 million dollars against 63.1. Despite the fact that Trump and the Republican Party raised more than $ 1.5 billion since 2019, he reached the turning point with the same financial difficulties as four years ago.
That was not the only one, nor was it the most unexpected unexpected. On Friday, October 2, the president announced that he had covid. Chaos gripped the entire campaign. Donald Trump had to be admitted to the hospital, where he received a steroid treatment, which left him in a worrying state of euphoria. There were more infected. The first lady fell ill. His campaign manager, Bill Stepien, also tested positive. As is the chair of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel. All the rallies, the fundraising events, deadlocked. The debates, in the air.
Trump was facing exactly the scenario he wanted to avoid: a campaign focused on the pandemic. But he recovered. He crushed the “microscopic enemy” in his own body, and that gave him an aura of invincibility. He hit the road. A sprint dizzying ending. He shortened the polls in some key states. The president arrived exhausted. However, casting suspicions of fraud and questioning the legitimacy of the count before it kicks off, Trump sends signals that for him, if the conditions are met, the battle may have only just begun.
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