The Bob Woodward Bombshells — Not Just About Covid
Author: Greg Valliere
September 10, 2020
WE TALKED WITH INSIDERS in both parties yesterday who all agreed on one point: what was Donald Trump thinking, talking 18 times — on tape — with Bob Woodward? Was Trump so hubristic that he thought he could charm and spin the legendary muckraker?
THERE’S ALSO AGREEMENT IN WASHINGTON that this is very damaging to Trump. Democrats think his extraordinary revelations will further diminish the public’s view of his handling of the virus. Most Republicans were silent — in public — while expressing disbelief in private over Trump’s statements to Woodward.
WE USUALLY CONSIDER TELL-ALL BOOKS a minor blip in campaigns; the impact usually fades quickly and doesn’t affect many votes. But with Trump on tape, this may be different, on at least three fronts:
FIRST, TRUMP’S ESTRANGEMENT FROM THE MILITARY is now a major problem for him. “My f—–g generals are a bunch of pu—-s” he said, and the entire Washington defense establishment is now openly rooting for military parent Joe Biden. Rank-and-file troops still like Trump, but not as much as in 2016.
SECOND, OTHER ASPECTS OF THE BOOK will hurt Trump, including his mocking of Woodward’s concern about race relations, and the stunning critiques of his presidency from many who have worked with him. The most remarkable is the assertion from former National Security Council Director Dan Coats, who thinks Vladimir Putin “has something” on Trump.
THIRD, THIS STORY will dominate the news cycle through the Sunday morning talk shows and Woodward’s appearance Sunday night on “60 Minutes.” A five-day news cycle means Trump will have difficulty getting any message out; we subscribe to the theory that winning each day is important between now and the election — and Trump will be off-message for nearly a week.
BOTTOM LINE: One of our favorite indicators is the latest betting odds, which narrowed in early September but have widened a bit — in Biden’s favor — in recent days. The polls have been inconsistent; one day Pennsylvania looks close, the next day Biden seemingly has a decent lead there. There’s no change in our view that he’s the narrow front-runner.
WE’LL STICK WITH THIS CONCLUSION: If Trump comes back and wins, the economy will be a key factor. If Trump loses, the main reason will be his handling of the virus — and now it’s clear that he lied to the public about the severity of the pandemic. It’s on tape, it’s not fake news.
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