President Trump called me for a chat on Saturday.
It was our first conversation since he unfollowed me on Twitter in April after I wrote a Mail column telling him to ‘Shut the f*** up Mr President,’ because he suggested people should be injected with bleach to cure coronavirus.
Since then, I have relentlessly hammered him for his woeful handling of the pandemic that has now led to over 220,000 Americans dying from Covid-19, by far the worst death toll in the world.
So, when the White House switchboard rang to say ‘Mr Morgan, we have the president for you’, I was bracing myself for some full-bore Trump bombast of the ‘loser!’ and ‘idiot!’ type he unleashes on anyone who dares to criticize him.
But instead, we ended up having a cordial free-rolling 25-minute exchange which gave me a fascinating insight into the mindset of the world’s most powerful man as he heads into the biggest week of his life.
And one thing’s absolutely clear: Trump genuinely believes he’s going to get re-elected.
This is not a belief supported by any polls right now, but then, as he pointed out, ‘the polls were all wrong last time.’
A week ago, I’d have said that Trump was definitely heading for a shellacking in next Tuesday’s election.
His chaotic conduct during his campaign, epitomized by the ludicrous way he behaved after catching the coronavirus himself, epitomized a disastrous year in which his worst character traits of bulls***ting, empathy-devoid narcissism fuelled catastrophically bad leadership over both the corona crisis and the mass protests over George Floyd’s dreadful death.
But then came last Thursday’s second and final presidential debate in which Trump managed to keep his temper and show a calmer, more measured and focused style that many of his supporters have been begging him to show for months.
By doing so, he scored some powerful hits against his Democrat opponent Joe Biden – forcing him to admit he’d finish the oil industry (something Trump told me he thinks was a ‘massive mistake’ given the industry employs 10 million people, many in crucial swing states) and to chuck Barack Obama under the bus over his failure to tackle immigration issues fast enough (‘Can you believe he did that?’ snorted Trump, derisively, ‘Obama can’t be happy…’)
And it earned him the best post-debate plaudits he’s ever had in his political career with even some of his toughest critics conceding he’d been more ‘presidential.’
‘People seemed to like that me better,’ he mused on the phone.
‘I’m one of them,’ I replied. ‘It was far more effective than the raging bull in the first debate.’
Trump chuckled. ‘Yeah, but some people like the other me too…’
That’s true, they do.
Trump’s base loves him going on the rampage like a human King Kong, lashing out at anyone and anything that gets in his way. It’s how he won the White House in the first place.
But that brash, bombastic, abusive style which was so un-edifyingly evident in the first debate, increasingly grates with independent voters.
And therein lies the big question for Trump in these final few days of campaigning: does he unleash the furious beast of that first debate, or the more reasonable creature of the second debate?
There’s no doubt that Trump’s fire-breathing energy and showmanship give him a massive performative advantage over Biden who looks and sounds like the old man of 77 that he is.
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SOURCE: Daily Mail, Piers Morgan