“Could you imagine if I lose?” Trump said Friday evening at a campaign rally in Macon, Ga. “My whole life, what am I going to do? I’m going to say, ‘I lost to the worst candidate in the history of politics.’ I’m not going to feel so good. Maybe I’ll have to leave the country. I don’t know.”
Part of the act is tactical, aides say. Trump thrives on being underestimated, and they point to how the president came from behind in 2016. National polls at the time showed Trump lagging against Hillary Clinton in the weeks leading up to the election, yet he continued his marathon of rallies and latched onto news about Clinton that helped him paint a picture of elites in Washington that boosted his campaign. A similar strategy is in play once more, with the president back on the road and focusing his attention on news about the Biden family’s business dealings alongside allegations of his own unfair treatment.
“He campaigns best when he is counterpunching,” said Bryan Lanza, a lobbyist who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition and remains close to the 2020 campaign. “He’s the running back who runs toward the tackles as opposed to the running back who runs away. We used to say he’s like Rocky Balboa — he waits for his opponent to punch and then he comes back to deliver the knockout blow.”