Thursday on MSNBC’s “Deadline,” host Nicolle Wallace dismissed President Donald Trump’s claims about the “Obamagate” scandal, calling them the political equivalent of the tooth fairy.
Wallace said, “I don’t mean to be sarcastic here. But does Donald Trump really think that in any corner of the country that he needs to swing his way again that Obama is less popular or viewed as less competent or anyone thinks that this would have gone down worse on Obama’s watch than his?”
New York Times reporter Peter Baker said, “Yeah, I understand the question. Look, part of this, of course, is who you’re targeting your messaging to. Part of this ‘Obamagate’ and the Obama message is aimed at the core supporters that he wants to keep on his side, that he cannot get to 271 electoral votes unless he starts off with the core voters that he brought to the table. He needs to give them something to focus on other than how he has handled this pandemic because polls show that even a lot of his own supporters have had questions about that, don’t trust the information he’s giving them, have not been happy about some of the delays and other things that have been documented by our colleagues. I think that, therefore, you start with that base and then reaching out to the people in the middle has never really been his top priority. He’s trying to reproduce the inside strength that he had three and a half years ago, and that’s always been a tough sell for a president who’s never been over 50% in the approval ratings in Gallup and some of these main polls, and it’s always been a tough challenge, and now it’s tougher given what’s happened these last few weeks.”
Wallace said, “Ron Klain, I know you’re here for your expertise in public health, but I’ve got to ask you this. I hear ‘Obamagate’ and I hear, ‘I’m bleeped with my base,’ because there is no ‘Obamagate.’ It’s the political version of the Tooth Fairy. It’s fantasies and fairy tales, and it means nothing. It’s like invoking Santa or something totally made up. So to me, when I hear him use that term, Obamagate, that is groping for the hardcore supporter, which to me screams of real political peril. If he was in any safer political standing, he wouldn’t still be sucking up to the hardcore base.”
The former Obama White House adviser said, “I think that’s spot on. There are two political observations to make here. That’s the first one, which is that we’re in mid-May of an election year and if the president is so panicked about his base that he’s making up scandals about his predecessor, that tells you that he’s in trouble because this is the time of the year when incumbent presidents are trying to round up support, not reinforce their base. The second thing is I think Peter’s analysis of this is right, which is the Trump White House looks at this COVID problem and thinks they have to either deny that it exists or attack someone for it. I worked for two incumbent presidents, got re-elected. You worked for one who got re-elected. The way they get re-elected is they do a good job. That’s why they win or lose. He can blame a long list of people for this. He can try to beat the CDC to lower the death count, but he can’t change the fact that he now has created a giant health mess and a giant economic mess. The second one, in particular, Nicolle, that economic mess, that is Trump’s strength politically, is people believe he can deliver on the economy. He’s now facing a huge economic crisis. This really goes to competence, and incumbent presidents can’t do a horrible job and get re-elected. That’s what he’s facing.”
Wallace concluded, “Incumbent presidents running for president, it is always, always a referendum on you. So knock yourself out with the fantasies, Mr. President. This will be all about you.”
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