Trump to travel US in epic troll of Democratic convention
Ahead of presidential hopeful Biden's biggest day, Trump hits campaign trail to lash out at his opponent
WASHINGTON : This week, the eyes of US voters will turn to presidential hopeful Joe Biden, his running mate, Ms Kamala Harris and the Democratic convention - unless they swivel first to Republican distracter-in-chief Donald Trump.
For the Democrats, the convention is the real 2020 campaign launch, culminating on Thursday when Mr Biden accepts the nomination to confront Mr Trump on Nov 3.
The incumbent President, however, loves nothing more than stealing the show.
So in a week of Democratic celebration - already low-key due to coronavirus precautions - Mr Trump will begin his own campaign tour with speeches in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Today, he will be on Air Force One to speak in Arizona.
And on Thursday, the biggest moment in Mr Biden's political life, Mr Trump is turning the troll factor to maximum with a speech next to Scranton, Pennsylvania - the blue-collar town where Mr Biden grew up and which he still refers to as his spiritual home.
According to the Trump campaign, the theme of this week's tour will be, simply enough, "highlighting Joe Biden's record of failure".
But hitting the road carries considerable risks.
Mr Trump's last attempt to stage one of his rallies, an event in Oklahoma in June, was a flop when few supporters showed up.
And this week he will be competing with the Democrats' top stars which includes Mrs Michelle Obama and Mr Bernie Sanders on opening day, then former US president Barack Obama and Mr Biden's newly minted vice-presidential pick, Ms Harris, tomorrow.
"The biggest problem for President Trump right now is the more he speaks, the worse he does," Princeton University politics professor Julian Zelizer said on CNN.
"I am not sure having more of President Trump out there in the next few days will necessarily hurt Democrats. It might be exactly what they need."
A veteran of reality TV, Mr Trump entered politics with a knack for identifying opponents' weak spots and turning them into central campaign themes.
In 2016, his catchphrase "crooked Hillary" stuck. In unprecedented, ugly scenes, he encouraged crowds to chant "lock her up."
Traditionalists were appalled but Mr Trump was tapping into widely held mistrust for the Clinton brand and his attacks, however crude, hurt the far more experienced opponent.
Against Mr Biden and Ms Harris, however, Mr Trump seems suddenly less sure of himself. The duo are far more slippery targets. Ms Harris, in particular, appears to trouble the President.
A former prosecutor, she does not fit easily into his central campaign message about Democrats being soft on crime. His testing of adjectives for her like "nasty" and "disrespectful" seem unlikely to endear him with women voters.
An ABC/Washington Post poll on Sunday found that 54 per cent of Americans approve of Ms Harris and just 29 per cent do not. - AFP