During a particularly rough stretch last week, Trump pledged to bar foreigners from entering the country. The executive order Trump ultimately signed was less severe than he suggested, but it still gave him a chance to highlight action on an issue that’s central to his political brand.

Four years after Trump captured the White House by perfectly threading narrow victories in critical battleground states, he is betting that a relentless focus on his base will yield a repeat performance. It’s a risky strategy because Trump’s standing in some of those states shows signs of weakening. And there’s little evidence to suggest he has significantly broadened his appeal in other places to offset those vulnerabilities.

The pandemic hasn’t changed that.

“It drives me crazy, frankly, because part of being the president is to rise above, to ignore certain things,” said Ari Fleischer, who served as White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, whose lukewarm approval ratings soared after his handling of the Sept. 11 attacks. “And I think at a time like this he should leave a lot of the gauntlets on the ground and rise above. But that’s not him.”