Amid a raging virus, struggling economy and unrest over racial injustice, President Trump focused on his re-election campaign, recasting some of his failures as a candidate as active choices during a rally last night in Macon, Ga.
Trump spoke for close to two hours, making sporadic references to the coronavirus pandemic, trade and the American economy.
But most of his remarks focused on his own personal grievances — the joy he alleged his opponents felt at his virus diagnosis, a news media he continues to argue is stacked against him, technology companies and, of course, his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden and his family.
At one point, Trump threatened to leave the country should he lose the election.
“Could you imagine if I lose?” he said. “I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country, I don’t know.”
Trailing in the polls and at a significant cash deficit compared with Biden, Trump tried to argue that he was opting against raising more money as he enters the final stretch of the election.
“I could raise more money,” he said. “I would be the world’s greatest fund-raiser, but I just don’t want to do it.”
Trump’s campaign announced this week that he had raised over $247 million last month, far short of the record $383 million raised by Biden’s campaign and affiliated Democratic committees.
Trump also delivered a discursive monologue about what he cast as a choice to not be more presidential, an allusion to the chaotic style that has turned off suburban women, a group that helped boost Trump to victory four years ago.
“I used to go and I’d imitate a president who’s playing presidential — it’s so easy compared to what we do,” he said. “I said, ‘I can be more presidential than any president in our history with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln when he wore the hat, that’s tough to beat.’”
Trump acknowledged his losses in the suburbs, seeming to link his slide to his divisive style.
Biden leads by 23 points among suburban women in battleground states, according to recent polling by The New York Times and Siena College.
Among suburban men, the race is tied.
“Suburban women,” he said. “I heard they like my policy, but they don’t like my personality. I said, ‘They don’t care about my personality, they want to be safe.’”
Georgia, long a Republican stronghold, should be an easy win for Trump, but recent polling indicates that it could be closer than some Republicans would like.
This week, Biden beat Trump in a range of polling averages.
Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidates vying for the state’s two open Senate seats, posted similarly competitive poll numbers against their Republican opponents.
A day after refusing to condemn QAnon, the sprawling, false pro-Trump conspiracy theory community, Trump praised Marjorie Taylor Greene, the controversial congressional candidate who has embraced elements of the debunked and discordant theories that have led to some real-world violence and that the F.B.I. has labeled a potential domestic terror threat.
“I never, ever want to have her as my enemy,” Trump said. “She is so unbelievable.”
Georgia’s GOP Senator David Perdue tried to energize Trump supporters before the rally started by mocking the first name of Senator Kamala Harris, his colleague in the Senate for nearly four years.
“Kah-MAH-lah or KAH-mah-lah or Kamamboamamla, I don’t know,” he told the crowd.
Those were only a few of the iterations Perdue tried with her name.
Republicans have spent months mispronouncing the name of the California senator, making a repeated error that some Democrats argue is not just disrespectful but racist — a concerted effort to portray Harris as not quite American.
During his town hall event on Thursday night, Trump said her name incorrectly, as did multiple speakers during the Republican National Convention in August.