Trump delivered Hollywood-like production – but he faces big challenges that could really hamper his chances
The president’s team seems very aware that he’s got a lot more ground to make up with African American and white suburban voters.
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The backdrop was controversial and unorthodox, just like the man.
Donald Trump transformed the South Lawn on the White House into the stage of a political convention.
And as coronavirus rages, he invited 1,500 visitors to watch him – many not wearing masks.
It was a fitting symbol to a presidency that’s made the abnormal, normal.
The reality TV man delivered a Hollywood-like production, with a creative narrative to fit.
His band of devotees casting the president as the only thing saving America from total anarchy.
Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, summed up the Republican’s main line of attack: Joe Biden will let lawless and looting increase and Mr Trump will stand-up and stop it.
The challenge with that argument of course, is that Mr Trump is the one currently in charge as protests grip the nation.
The president’s daughter, Ivanka, tried a more nuanced pitch, conceding sometimes her father’s tweets were a little “unfiltered” but the “results speak for themselves”.
She was focused and effective, perhaps more convinced of what she was saying than in 2016.
As for the star of the show, well Mr Trump delivered a speech of two halves.
The beginning felt structured, disciplined and peppered with some optimism about America being a bright shining beacon – a clear rebuttal to Mr Biden’s talk of “darkness” in the country.
But the other half was a Biden-bashing bonanza, more ad-libs, more rally-like and more attacks, as Mr Trump sought to discredit his political record on everything from crime and immigration, to casting him as a traitor of the working class and beholden to socialists.
The law and order messaging which we’ve heard so much of this week was perhaps his most effective rallying cry.
There were dystopian videos and the declarative claim that “if the left gains power it will demolish the suburbs and confiscate your guns”.
Those kind of lines can strike fear in sections of America and Trump wants that anxiety working its way to the ballot box.
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The challenge with arguing only he can restore law and order, is that he is the one currently in charge and protests grip the country.
The speech didn’t have any big concessions, no mea culpas about perceived mistakes or big emotional moments that acknowledged the death toll from coronavirus.
That’s not Mr Trump’s style of course. But time will tell if that’s a mistake.
With 180,000 dead, it’s a hugely sensitive time in America and his leadership in the pandemic is under the intense scrutiny.
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One thing that may play to his advantage is his record on the economy.
It was good before the crisis hit and voters might not chose to punish or blame him for the record unemployment that followed.
Jobs and income are key drivers in the vote and if people remember the good days more than the bad, then he’ll get a big political boost.
But his teams seem very aware that he’s got a lot more ground to make up with African American and white suburban voters.
They are both big challenges for Trump that could really hamper his chances.
Republicans have spent the week trying to convince America the president cares about them all.
The question is do enough believe him?