I’m sure this will be dismissed by a lot of Trump fans who believe he would never concede the race, even privately to his closest staff. But I think it’s probably true simply because Trump is actually smarter than the character he plays on TV.
Donald Trump has privately acknowledged he lost the presidency. He knows Joe Biden will replace him. He recognizes Congress will formally certify the results on Wednesday.
To one person, Trump even confided he was “just disappointed we lost.”
Trump’s acceptance has taken shape in recent weeks, according to three people who have spoken to Trump in that time span, with one conversation occurring a week ago. Trump admits his defeat, but still maintains he would have won a fair election, they said, despite no concrete evidence emerging of widespread voter fraud. He has even discussed his exit plans from Washington with staff, debating when to move to his South Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, according to one of the people.
Yes, these are anonymous sources so they’re open to being dismissed as fabrications. I guess we won’t really know what he believes until we see what he does as the end of his term expires in two weeks. Will Trump barricade himself inside the White House or will he in fact continue to go along with the transition and make plans to relocate to Florida? I think it’s going to be the latter.
The Politico story goes on to say that Trump is doing this because he wants to “keep the attention on himself and give his supporters what they want.” I don’t know about the attention part of it. I think he’s got a lot of that no matter what he does at this point. But I think the idea of disappointing his supporters is probably accurate, though not quite in the cold, instrumental way Politico suggests.
From the 2016 campaign onward, Trump has had a real affection for his crowds of supporters. He clearly loved them and they loved him back. They laughed at his jokes. They liked the cut of his jib, you might say. It was a real love affair.
That relationship has always seemed weird or dangerous to most in the media (though of course they never felt that way when Obama was getting the same kind of adulation). In Trump’s case, I think it was pretty clearly his favorite part of being president and therefore the part he desperately wants to hang on to here at the end. He genuinely doesn’t want to let his fans down. He promised them he would win.
Today his people came to DC for an impromptu rally. Trump gave a speech as if he was back on the trail. So much of this unique relationship is tied up with the presidency it’s hard to see how it can go on after he leaves the White House. It’s not just the campaign rallies, it’s also Trump’s status as the bull in the china shop that is Washington, DC. It’s his distaste for the national media. It’s hard to see how it all works once he’s out of office and isn’t the center of media attention day in and day out.
Anyway, that’s how I’m making sense of what’s going on right now. It’s the end of an affair neither party wants to see end. Both sides are looking to make the most dramatic display possible of their commitment to keep it going. But privately I think everyone involved knows they’ve only got two weeks left.