Of the many Donald Trump staff appearances on cable news that I so enjoy, a recent favorite involves campaign lawyer, Michael Cohen, on CNN on Wednesday. When confronted with correspondent Brianna Keilar's assertion that Trump is losing, Cohen replies, "Says who?" Keilar points that Trump has been losing in the latest national polls and often by large margins. Mystifyingly, Cohen ignores her ressponse and repeats his question again. "Says who?"
Cohen's moment of either temporary deafness or pure stupidity is bizarre. However, looking at the rest of the operation at Trump Tower, Cohen might be just following the official position of the campaign: ignoring polling that puts Trump on pace for the biggest landslide loss since 1984.
At the time of writing, Clinton is beating Trump in the polls not just in states that normally vote Democratic, not just in swing states, but even in some states that haven't voted for a Democrat in decades. With polls finding the two candidates neck-and-neck in Georgia and Arizona, which went for Mitt Romney by margins of 8 and 10 percent respectively in 2012, one would expect Trump to be playing a tough defense, trying to hold on to his ever-slimming path to the White House.
But instead, Trump's campaigning as if he's not only got traditionally red states on lockdown, but as if he could make some blue ones competitive, too. On Saturday Trump held a rally in Connecticut, a state President Obama won by 18 points in 2016. I imagine he would have a better shot of winning Genovia than winning Connecticut in November.
Matt Mackowiack, a veteran Republican political operative from Texas, reacted with fury on Twitter.
And Trump is planting the seeds of conspiracy that were he to lose, it would only because of underhanded, corrupt activity. At a rally in Pennsylvania, Trump made the accusation that, "The only way we can lose ... Pennsylvania is if cheating goes on." He made that claim despite there being no evidence he or anyone could point to of potential voter fraud — and a poll coming out just a few days earlier that put Clinton nine points ahead in the Keystone State.
On Wednesday, the Trump campaign made a move that briefly displayed some awareness that things weren't going well for him. Trump shook up his campaign staff, effectively demoting his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and bringing in Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, as his campaign's chief executive officer.
However, anyone who has read even a single word of Breitbart News' election coverage probably realizes that bringing in its head won't do anything to make Trump seem more palatable, presidential, or, well, sane. Interestingly, Breitbart has had a history this election of claiming that polls showing Clinton ahead are lying to the public. "It’s an open secret that polls are often manipulated and spun to create momentum for a particular candidate or issue,” said Breitbart's editor-in-chief Alex Marlow in an article published on the website on Monday.
So in the face of terrible polling that seems to show the American people not buying Trump's antics, Trump's response is to double down on the antics, insinuate there's voter fraud or other electoral corruption, and pretend he can turn blue states red. Maybe he really doesn't know...
Image: Bustle/Dawn Foster