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October 19, 2020

Trump tries to recreate 2016 atmosphere in final push to Election Day

World

October 19, 2020

LAS VEGAS: He’s gathered the same people. He’s attempting a similar schedule. He even believes he’s found an equivalent 11th-hour scandal — and equivalent Russian disinformation questions have followed.

All that’s missing is the airplane. A superstitious politician and a lover of routine, President Donald Trump is actively working to replicate the atmosphere that culminated in his 2016 victory, convinced if the same pieces are in place as he barnstorms battlegrounds at breakneck pace — just like he did last time — the lighting-in-a-bottle results will follow. He has even taken to thinking wistfully of his jet, a Boeing 757 painted red and gold, that he used to criss-cross the country during frenzied final stretch of 2016.

“I have the exact same plane at home. It’s true. The exact same,” Trump said Friday on a baking-hot tarmac in Florida, gesturing at the blue-and-white government airplane of the same model, but with considerably less gilt, positioned nearby. “It’s a different company that made the engines,” he said, quickly identifying a shortcoming compared to his own jet. “I think those are Pratt & Whitney, and I have Rolls-Royce.” Nostalgia has always weighed heavily on Trump’s political persona — it’s the second “A” in his “MAGA” motto — but it also effects his decisions and strategy, often against the advice of his political team, according to people who have spoken to him recently about his reelection efforts. As he makes a final push for a second term, Trump wants to replicate the heady last days of his only previous political campaign, even though he is now the incumbent and the political calculus has shifted dramatically. But this time, Trump seems more aggrieved at what has happened to him than what has happened to the base of people who support him. Jetting across the country this weekend, the collection of advisers joining him in the cramped forward cabin aboard Air Force One included veteran 2016 advisers Jared Kushner, Stephen Miller, Dan Scavino and Hope Hicks, who Trump convinced to return to his orbit eight months ago. Absent were some of the more recent additions to his circle, notably his chief of staff Mark Meadows.