...Donald Trump was afraid to go on the attack

The president  had heard something that filled him with fear and brought  his campaign  to a sudden  standstill.

Published: 08th September 2021 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th September 2021 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

BENGALURU: The president  had heard something that filled him with fear and brought  his campaign to a sudden  standstill. The  2020  race was about to enter the key summer  months. Joe Biden was shelter­ing in  his basement  while the  president  was taking  all the  grief for COVID-19, and without his fighting  rallies. But attacking Joe Biden, really slaughtering him as only Trump  believed he could, was just what  the Dems  wanted  him  to do – so he wouldn’t  do it. He wasn’t that stupid.

Brad Parscale, the Trump family-appointed campaign manager, who had built one of the biggest political money machines  in his­tory, a true Cadillac  campaign,  was seeing poll numbers  sink  and everything going south  because Donald Trump  was afraid to go on the attack. Because the Democrats were f****** with  him. Jared  Kushner, the  president’s  son-in-law and the  behind-the­ scenes power in the campaign, told Parscale to make the call. They needed a new strategy. They needed the ultimate strategist. Call Karl Rove!

Parscale implored  Rove to come to Washington ASAP. He had to sit down with the  president.The Dems  were screwing  with his head.The Dem  strategy was diabolical. Trump and the party needed him. Rove was the political mastermind of the George W. Bush admin­istration, and was on top of the Trump list of party doyens targeted for frequent slurs. (“He looks  so f****** stupid up  there  with  that white  board,” Trump would  reliably  mock   Rove  for  his  election night  appearances doing hand  tallies  on  Fox News.)  But he was a professional, something in short supply in Trumpworld.

At the raging high point of the coronavirus pandemic, Rove, from his home  in Texas, got himself to Washington DC, for  what was to be a secret meeting with the president. Except that, when he was shown into the  Oval  Office,  a dumbfounded Rove found fifteen people there. Rove had spent eight years in an office near the  Oval when it was a place of formal and select purpose. This was a bus station. Or,  as Trump aides, as confounded as anyone by the  Oval Office’s crowds,  ado, and  unlikely characters, often put it, the  Star War bar scene.

There was Parscale  and Kushner; Ronna McDaniel, the Trump­ picked head  of the  Republican National Committee; Mark Mead­ows, the newly appointed chief of staff; Dan Scavino, who managed the president’s Twitter accounts; Hope Hicks,  the president’s per­sonal advisor and hand-holder; and a slew of others  Rove didn’t know.

The  president – to Rove’s ear, sounding like Alec  Baldwin’s  Sat­urday Night Live impersonation of him,  an impersonation (of  the impersonation) that  Rove himself would often perform – outlined the  dilemma: He  had come  to understand that the  Democrats wanted him to attack Biden so as to weaken  and destroy him. And then, when he had destroyed “Sleepy Joe” as only Trump could, the Democrats’ plan, he had  it on super-secret authority, was to replace Biden as the nominee with  ... Andrew Cuomo. The governor of New York had been leading a popular daily television rebuttal to the White House’s  COVID response – a constant affront  to the pres­ident.

Michael Wolff

“Even assuming they wanted to do this,” said Rove, astonished by the ludicrousness of the assumption, “why would Bernie  Sanders” –­ the clear Democratic runner-up – allow it to happen?” “Because,” the agitated president said, lowering his voice, “this is all being coordinated by the  Obamas. And,” Trump added,  more darkly  “there   is a very  good  chance  that   Michelle will go on  the Cuomo ticket  as VP.”

As respectfully as he could, Rove offered that  he found this to be, to say the least, a bizarre  theory. Trump, with  his signature shmear of flattery, acknowledged Rove’s reservations, piling  it on  about  his being  the  smartest, and yet the  president was dead  set on  believing that  here was an exceedingly clever conspiracy to bring him down – ­ yet another one!

The  conversation among the fifteen  people  in the room – some participating, some  there  for  no  reason  that  Rove could  fathom­ – continued for  an hour.  Should they  attack Biden  and  run  the risk of Cuomo? Should  they let Biden alone until  it was too late for the Dems to  replace  him?  But  how strong might he become without being  challenged in his basement? And wouldn’t Michelle Obama certainly spell doom  for them?  What was to be done?

“My God, where  did  he get  this  from?” Rove  asked  Parscale  as he was being  shown out.
(Excerpted with permission from Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency by Michael Wolff published by The Bridge Street Press)


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