‘Growing alarm’ inside Trump campaign unless president can pull off ‘October surprise’: White House reporter
Donald Trump takes questions from reporters at The White House (Fox News/screen grab)

President Donald Trump is banking on the development of a coronavirus vaccine to save his flagging campaign, according to a White House reporter.

The Associated Press' Jonathan Lemire told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that Trump and his campaign team understand the polling is working against them, but they're hoping to inject an "October surprise" just before the election.

"There's an acknowledgement that the president is down, but they're saying the margins are ones the president can overcome," Lemire said. "As they are wont to do, they cast a lot of doubt on the public polling, thinking that it under-samples Republicans. They also think there are a number of people backing the president in November who simply aren't being picked up in the polls because they're not acknowledging they're voting for Donald Trump in a poll or they aren't the ones on the screens of pollsters. In 2016, there was some element of truth to that."

Trump picked up votes in 2016 from many Americans who rarely or infrequently vote, but Lemire said the president can't count on that type of support again.

"That's why there's growing alarm for a time and need for what could be called an October surprise," he said, "and they're putting a lot of eggs in the basket of a vaccine. That's why the president is going to North Carolina today. We expect to see a lot of announcements and hype in each development step of a vaccine, which, of course, would be great for everyone but the president believes it's key now for his political future. If they can say before November that a vaccine is close, even if they can't be distributed it yet, if they can give the idea of hope, they think it can be very powerful, that it can, late in the game, change some of that momentum, which is all working against him."