Donald Trump wants you to pretend he's on the ballot this November
Donald Trump is asking voters to pretend he is on the ballot this November—at least until Republicans lose, at which point he’ll deny having had anything to do with it. Trump is ramping up his schedule of campaign rallies, the Washington Post reports, and he has been crystal clear about how he sees the situation:
“I’m not on the ticket, but I am on the ticket, because this is also a referendum about me,” Trump boomed this month at a rally in Southaven, Miss. “I want you to vote. Pretend I’m on the ballot.”
But that said, Trump has no intention of thinking that potential Republican losses are a referendum about himself. Asked by the Associated Press if he would “bear some responsibility” if Republicans lose the House, Trump responded “No, I think I’m helping people.” He then pointed to the successes of candidates he’s endorsed in Republican primaries (as if primaries and general elections are the same thing), moved on to his campaign crowds in 2016, and laid the groundwork to say that losses won’t be about him:
And I’m not running. I mean, there are many people that have said to me, ‘Sir, I will never ever,’ you on the trail when I’m talking to people backstage etcetera, ‘I will never ever go and vote in the midterms because you’re not running and I don’t think you like Congress.’
The likelihood that Trump is having detailed conversations with a lot of people who don’t plan to vote in the midterms—that these are the people who local Republicans are putting in rooms with him when he shows up for rallies that are ostensibly campaign events for congressional candidates—is … low. But that lie is the best lie he’s got, the insistence that if Republicans lose it has nothing to do with Donald Trump being unpopular and everything to do with voters failing to understand what Donald Trump wanted them to do.
Whatever Trump is going to claim on November 7, though, for now, the important thing is to remember that this is also a referendum about him. Pretend he’s on the ballot.
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