The Risk in Trump’s Reelection Strategy

Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign aide Boris Epshteyn retweeted images of Portland burning with a similar message: This is Joe Biden’s America.

Then came the rejoinders: But Donald Trump is president.

This highlights the dilemma Trump faces as he tries to run on a law-and-order platform against the civil unrest gripping major American cities, uniformly with Democratic mayors, since the death of George Floyd in police custody earlier this year. Unlike Richard Nixon in 1968, who also ran as a law-and-order candidate, Trump is the incumbent president, muddying his message that Democrats are to blame for the lawlessness. But the more Trump acts to quell the violence, the more ownership he has of the problem.

Trump is nevertheless plunging ahead, announcing an escalation of the “Operation Legend” initiative offering federal assistance to cities coping with a surge in violence. It is named for LeGend Taliferro, a 4-year-old boy who was shot to death while sleeping in Kansas City. “This bloodshed must end, this bloodshed will end,” Trump said on Wednesday.

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