President Donald Trump has long excelled at ridiculing opponents and fomenting rivalries among those around him — from contestants on “The Apprentice” to his top aides inside the White House. Now he and his campaign are eyeing ways to drive a wedge between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his younger, lesser-known running mate.
The president and his allies are plotting ways to portray Harris as a serious threat to the working-class voters whom Biden hopes to flip this fall, four years after many across the Rust Belt ditched Democrats to support Trump. They’re digging up her comments from Democratic primary debates, hoping they can use them to put her and Biden on defense. And despite Harris’ lukewarm relationship with some anti-establishment progressive groups, they are considering ways to cast her as a champion of the radical left by concentrating on positions she’s taken that run afoul of Biden-style centrism, one of the former vice president’s key appeals to swing voters.
“Kamala Harris is a California liberal who has already defined herself as a radical Democrat with her support of the Green New Deal, socialized medicine, fracking bans, tax raises and taxpayer-funded abortions,” said Courtney Parella, deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign.
Some of those attacks will be dismissed as false or exaggerated. But the move to cast Harris as a socialist sympathizer and progressive stalwart comes as the Trump campaign struggles to deploy a similar playbook against Biden, who has mocked the president’s attempts to paint him as a “helpless puppet” of the radical left. Trump’s standing against Biden in polls has barely budged throughout the year despite nickname after nickname, a flurry of vicious tweets and numerous presidential press conferences that he’s used to assail his opponent.
“Do I look to you like a radical socialist with a soft spot for rioters?” Biden asked the crowd on Monday at an event in Pittsburgh, where he distanced himself from calls to ban hydraulic fracking and condemned the rioting, looting and arson occurring in some U.S. cities.