The party’s over, it’s time to call it a day, They’ve burst your pretty balloon and taken the moon away — Jule Styne

Bill Stepien, back from his bout with COVID-19, we presume, because no real information ever comes out of this White House, sees a number of paths to a Trump reelection, not to worry. What’s that you say? How are they going to pay for it when Brad Parscale looted the coffers early on and what they’ve got left is about half of what Joe Biden’s got in the bank after a record breaking September? Not to mention Mike Bloomberg plunking down $100 Million to be used for Florida, alone? Pshaw, ye of little faith. Stepien has it wired. Axios:

  • Stepien tells them [his staff] the “easy part” is winning Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa and Maine’s second congressional district. From there, the first pathway, and the one he views as most likely, is for Trump to win Arizona, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

  • His second pathway would be for Trump to win Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan.

  • And pathway three — the one Stepien views as least likely of the options — does not include Arizona but involves Trump winning North Carolina, Michigan and Nevada.

  • Those states are where Trump will be spending the vast bulk of his time between now and Nov. 3, and where the Trump campaign is spending most of its money.

  • The states in none of Stepien’s three scenarios: Wisconsin or Minnesota.

So as the Biden campaign blitzes battleground states, the Trump campaign is dabbling in the Rust Belt, apparently waiting for some kind of a divine sign which winning scenario they should commit to, the winning path behind door number one? No, no, that’s not it. Door number two?

One campaign adviser pointed to a “half-assed” advertising buy in Wisconsin this week, around $130,000 according to Advertising Analytics data, which two campaign sources said seemed pointless given it’s too small to move the needle.

  • Ditto the decision to stay on the air in Minnesota, a state that no one I spoke to sees as part of Trump’s path to 270.

  • But Stepien’s dilemma, as described by several advisers, is that Trump would inevitably blow up at him if he were to read newspaper stories that he was going off the air in a Rust Belt battleground.

This is indeed Stepien’s dilemma, that he’s dealing with a madman, as are we all. Jared Kushner hired Katie Walsh Shields to come back to the White House and play miracle worker.

Why it matters: Walsh played a key role in 2016 in ensuring that the RNC and Trump campaign were efficiently sharing voter targeting data and working in tandem in their get-out-the-vote efforts.

  • Several campaign advisers have told me that they believe this coordination between the campaign and the RNC has not worked well in recent months, especially following Brad Parscale’s demotion as campaign manager.
  • Walsh declined to comment.

The big picture: The Trump campaign has been struggling for months, lagging in national and battleground state polls and Kushner has been seeking advice and fresh ideas from outside advisers, according to sources familiar with these conversations.

If I was going to write an SNL skit on the last two weeks of this farce, I would have all the familiar characters, Jared, Ivanka, Meadows, rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and I would speed up the action, so that they move like the Keystone Kops and sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks. That is the image I get.

The problem here, and throughout this campaign, is the assumption that 2016 and 2020 are the same races. They emphatically are not, and what worked in one is not going to work in the other. And that delusion starts from the top down, with Trump himself. It’s going to be a long two and a half weeks.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. Chaotic, Trainwreck, Grotesque Mess I can’t wait until it’s over. And then off to prison for crimes against humanity and tax fraud. ENOUGH ALREADY.


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