WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign released two new ads in recent days that take aim at apparent Democratic nominee Joe Biden for defending China and for lying about his achievements in the 1980s.
Of course, Trump himself has also defended China and lied about his achievements in the 1980s.
The new spots are part of a pattern by the Trump campaign of hitting Biden on issues where the president is also notably vulnerable, from China to his resume, from nepotism to allegations of sexual assault to verbal blunders.
In some cases, the strategy appears aimed at neutralizing weaknesses by muddying the waters. But it risks backfiring by drawing attention to Trump’s equal or larger vulnerabilities. As the coronavirus crisis reshapes the political landscape, the president’s campaign is throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks to his rival, who leads in recent national and battleground state polls.
A new Trump campaign ad says “Biden stands up for China,” playing footage of the former vice president last year downplaying China’s economic threat to the U.S. and saying “they’re not bad folks.” It’s designed to capitalize on public sentiment turning negativeon China, where the virus is said to have originated.
But Trump repeatedly praised China, including offering plaudits for its response to the virus outbreak. On Jan. 24, he tweeted, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well.” On Feb. 23, he told reporters that “President Xi is working very, very hard” and “doing a very good job.”
Lies and mental fitness
The second new Trump ad plays footage of Biden in his 1988 presidential campaign telling voters he graduated in the top half of his class at law school, had three college degrees and was named “outstanding political science student.” The ad then cuts to TV reporters who said none of those claims were true.
A damning indictment — from an odd messenger.
Trump has been caught embellishing his own achievements dating back to the same era. A former reporter for Forbes 400 revealed that Trump, using the alter ego John Barron, lied about his wealth in the 1980s as part of an “elaborate farce” to make it on the magazine’s list of America’s richest people. A Washington Post investigation found that inflating his net worth would become a pattern.
As president, he has exaggerated his approval ratings and crowd sizes and made easily disprovable claims about his achievements. For example, he often says he enacted the “biggest tax cut in U.S. history” (it’s actually the fourth or eighth largest since 1918, depending on the metric used) and recently took credit for “confirming 448 federal judges” (the real…