Trump views rallies in battleground states as the linchpin of his closing argument, a means to excite his supporters and ensure they vote on Nov. 3. But many Republicans close to the White House, former senior administration officials and political advisers say the rallies are largely a way to keep the unscripted and undisciplined president occupied, since they do little to persuade new Trump voters. Rallies, they note, do not woo senior citizens, independents or suburban women, many of whom have moved away from the Trump ticket this election cycle. Most of Trump’s rallies are no longer televised nationally as they once were.

And with coronavirus infection rates climbing, the Trump rallies often draw negative headlines in local news markets because the packed events defy public health guidelines, featuring few masks and almost no social distancing. After Trump’s recent rallies in Bemidji and Duluth, Minn. — both in counties the Trump campaign hopes to win — local health authorities connected roughly 24 new Covid-19 cases to the rallies and protests outside of them.

“I don’t think he has a lot of other options, if they are trying to figure out a way for him to spend his time,” said one former senior administration official. “The president easily gets stuck in things of the past and tries to repeat them. Rallies are the best thing they have for him. He wants to be on the road, and you can’t tell him to do something different.”