President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE on Thursday met with a group of top campaign officials at the White House to discuss polling and messaging strategies as recent surveys show him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE nationally and in key swing states.
The president huddled with Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielGOP moves main 2020 convention events, including Trump speech, to Jacksonville GOP votes to scale back Charlotte convention, move Trump acceptance speech The Hill’s Morning Report – DC preps for massive Saturday protest; Murkowski breaks with Trump MORE, campaign manager Brad ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE and others to discuss the latest polling, according to a Trump campaign official.
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The meeting was focused on strategy, specifically how the campaign can try and define Biden to voters moving forward, the official said.
“When Joe Biden is defined the president runs very strong against him,” the official said.
Trump then held an expanded meeting about messaging in the Cabinet Room of the White House that involved communications staff, during which the president spoke with advisers Katrina Pierson and Paris Dennard about outreach to the black community.
The official stressed the campaign feels confident it can define Biden by contrasting his record with the African American community with Trump’s.
The president has in recent days leaned on what he says are ways the black community has benefited under his presidency, including the passage of criminal justice reform at the end of 2018 and low unemployment.
But the president’s efforts to appeal to black voters have been complicated by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has disproportionately infected and killed minorities in the U.S. and led to mass unemployment, and the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Trump has offered his condolences to the Floyd family and called his death a “disgrace.” But that message has been overshadowed by his insistence that there be “law and order,” his threats to send the military into U.S. cities to quell unruly demonstrations, and his condemnation of protesters as “thugs” and “hoodlums.”
Thursday’s meeting came at a contentious time for the president in his reelection bid. He is grappling with multiple national crises, and he has seen Biden pull ahead in several polls in recent weeks.
A Monmouth University poll released Wednesday showed Biden with an 11-point advantage nationally. Fox News polls released the same day showed Trump trailing the former vice president in Ohio, Wisconsin and Arizona, three states that are critical to Trump’s reelection chances.
Trump won all three states in 2016, and few believed until recently that Ohio might be in play.
The Trump campaign has spent aggressively in states like Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin with ads that attack Biden on his economic record and his past stances on China.