Trump 2020: Lewandowski 'very concerned' by 'devastating' jobless rate, risk of resurgent virus
But Trump 2016 campaign manager dreams of a 'Lincoln-Douglas-style debate every day' between the president and a very beatable 'Beijing Biden.'
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Thanks to the deadly coronavirus, a booming economy came to a crashing halt this spring, and now President Trump has to deal with the political wreckage.
One overarching political question looms above the fall presidential race: Will the economy rebound in time to cement the president’s reelection?
“I'm very concerned,” Corey Lewandowski, a Trump 2020 campaign senior advisor, tells Just The News. “We've got 30 million Americans out of work right now, we've got an unemployment rate north of 19%. If you're a political guy, that's a devastating number, so you have to be concerned about it.”
Of course, reopening the economy brings with it its own risks — first and foremost to life and health and, incidentally, to prospects for a second Trump term. Lewandowski, Trump’s campaign manager for the bulk of the 2016 historic presidential campaign, has a reputation for blunt talk, and he doesn’t hide his anxiety about the risk of re-opening too soon.
“It's a huge gamble,” Lewandowski admits in a podcast interview for The Pod’s Honest Truth with David Brody. The concern would be that even if the economy begins to rebound, there’s always the potential for a dreaded “second wave” of the coronavirus that could return in the fall, wiping out yet more vulnerable lives — and the president's reelection chances with them.
"If there is a resurgence," Lewandowski says, “not just in the next four weeks or six weeks, but as the weather turns again, if come the fall in September, in October, we see an uptick again in the COVID-19 pandemic coming back because we didn't handle it right the first time — we still don't have testing and we don't have a solution — that is devastating as an incumbent president of the United States.”
However, one lesson Lewandowski learned firsthand is that you never bet against Donald Trump. Even amid these myriad political uncertainties, Lewandowski's gut tells him the president has been gifted a very beatable opponent, with glaring vulnerabilities.
“My advice to [the president] is, ‘Hey, let's have a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate every day between now and Election Day with you and Joe Biden up on stage,” says Lewandowski, smiling broadly. “He’s either going to fall asleep or make so many mistakes that the people of America are going to say there's no way this guy can be our president.”
The Trump campaign has hammered away at Biden’s ineptness and mental acuity since he became the presumptive Democrat nominee for president. But that’s not the only card they plan to play. Lewandowski made that clear when invoking a certain nickname for Trump’s opponent.
“I like to call him, ‘Beijing Biden,’” said Lewandowski. “He has cozied up to China for the last 50 years … and we're going to tie his record of economic failures and the coupling of the American economy to China during his eight years in the vice presidency.” They also plan to make sure voters know all about his son, Hunter Biden, who received a lucrative business deal from the Chinese while his father was vice president.
The Biden campaign pushes back forcefully against the narrative that Biden is too cozy with the Chinese, suggesting that it’s actually President Trump who has played too nice with the Chinese, even lauding them early on during the coronavirus pandemic.
While both campaigns duke it out over who’s tougher on China, it seems the main contour of the presidential race ahead will be shaped around the coronavirus and the economy. Biden’s campaign and Trump’s critics say his slow response to the virus made the situation worse and led to even harsher economic troubles.
Lewandowski counters that despite a bad economy brought on by an “invisible enemy,” Trump can be relied on to right the ship.
“Until this pandemic hit, we were the envy of the world, the hottest economy the world had ever seen,” Lewandowski says. “We have to be able to rebuild that, and when we are in a rebuilding stage we have to ask ourselves, ‘Do we want to go back to the days of Joe Biden, who's never signed the front of a paycheck, but only the back of a paycheck? Or a person like Donald Trump, who in three years had more people working than ever in American history?’ That's what this is about. It's about bringing America back.”