President Donald Trump in recent months has struggled to recapture the populist energy that won him the White House in 2016, and The Daily Beast reports that some Republicans are surprised that he has pivoted to embracing capital gains tax cuts that will benefit almost exclusively wealthy taxpayers.
“So much of what made Trump 2016 so populist -- immigration, for instance -- is absent from 2020 messaging now because of the virus,” one Republican close to Trump's campaign tells The Daily Beast. “It is different because the priorities are so radically different this time around, with the current crisis.”
Tim Miller, an anti-Trump Republican, tells The Daily Beast that he's been "mystified" that the president hasn't used the novel coronavirus pandemic to solidify his populist brand.
"I think he had a big opportunity to say Mr. Trump is going to provide a goody bag for everybody until we get out of [the COVID pandemic]," he explained. "He had no background in the ideological, free market, Larry Kudlow wing of the party. And yet he seems like he’s tying himself to it at the worst time possible."
Other Republicans close to the campaign say they are pushing Trump to make more populist appeals, but the pandemic has been swamping whatever messaging they try to put out.
“Obviously, if the virus hadn’t occurred, and the economy were still booming, this would be a fairly easy election for the president,” said GOP strategist Ed Rollins. “But clearly this has been a struggle."