Trump, the Consummate Attention Seeker, Conducts a Campaign Predominantly Beyond Public Scrutiny

In the aftermath of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s announcement of his withdrawal from the presidential race, an unexpected call reached him from a figure who had hitherto bestowed scant attention upon him: Donald Trump.

Former President Donald Trump appears to be smoothly heading towards securing the nomination. He has predominantly avoided conventional daily campaign activities, with his social media posts alternating between criticizing his political adversaries and expressing concerns about the legal challenges he faces.

Suarez, a contender who championed traditional conservatism and refrained from endorsing Trump in both 2016 and 2020, barely registered on the polling radar and confined his campaign efforts to a mere 11 weeks.

His exit hardly caused a stir. The particulars of their conversation remained undisclosed, yet the fact that the prominent Republican frontrunner felt compelled to engage with an underachiever shed light on Trump’s perspective as well as that of his campaign team.

Trump appears to be coasting toward the nomination, adopting an unconventional approach that largely eschews the routine rigors of campaigning. His social media communications oscillate between scathing salvos directed at political adversaries and lamentations concerning the legal entanglements encircling him.

However, he refrains from entirely diverting his gaze from the primaries. In truth, both he and his team are deeply embroiled behind the scenes.

In recent weeks, Trump’s allies have collaborated with state officials to maneuver delegate allocation rules strategically in their favor.

Trump’s campaign has cautioned state party officials against any association with super PACs, with the aim of stymieing the efforts of “Never Back Down,” the super PAC bolstering Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Trump has courted donors fervently, either aiming to secure their contributions or dissuading them from supporting others. He has convened with policy advisors and produced policy-oriented videos. Generally, these have been conducted, and Trump has personally dialed countless Republican officials, including Suarez, to garner their endorsements.

An undisclosed campaign advisor with knowledge of their strategy asserted, “One thing is certain, no one is losing sight of the objective, which, at this juncture, is securing the nomination.”

The approach taken by Trump’s team reflects the unprecedented and unorthodox nature of his campaign. Publicly, he assumes the role of an incumbent, while privately embracing the disposition of a fighter, all the while striving to avoid the fate of a convict.

The outcome is rather intriguing: a man who was once magnetically drawn to cameras and throngs now conducts a substantial portion of his campaign activities in relative obscurity. Although he has expended efforts on phone outreach, Trump’s on-the-ground campaign activities have been conspicuously limited compared to those of his rivals.

His campaign attributes this in part to his near-universal name recognition and incessant media coverage. He spurned the opportunity to participate in the initial GOP debate and is unlikely to grace the second debate in California, hosted at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library – an institution with which he has previously clashed.

“President Trump is outperforming every other candidate in this race, and the evidence is clear – he commands a commanding lead in all national and statewide polls,” asserted Trump’s spokesperson, Steven Cheung.

“No one else comes close to matching his commitment to securing the nomination and shifting the focus toward scrutinizing Joe Biden’s calamitous record.”

Rather than appearing frequently in public, Trump has opted for sporadic appearances. During the last debate, he countered the event’s attention by participating in an interview with Tucker Carlson. According to an individual with insider knowledge of the campaign, he might opt to hold a rally on the evening of the second debate, although no decisions have been finalized.

Trump’s allied super PAC is largely emulating this discerning approach of cherry-picking moments for public engagement.

“Maga Inc.” has channeled over $22 million into national advertising this year, surpassing the spending of any other campaign, with a substantial portion aimed at targeting DeSantis. However, there have been intermittent periods of inactivity.

Notably, since August 27, the super PAC has refrained from airing television ads, as per advertising tracking data. Their last advertisements targeting DeSantis were broadcast in late June.

Trump’s campaign emphatically asserts that he does not underestimate the importance of the primary, nor is he diverting his attention toward the general election.

Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, the seasoned GOP strategists at the helm of Trump’s campaign, disseminated a campaign memorandum to supporters recently, touting Trump’s lead, but critically, keeping their focus squarely on DeSantis and his campaign.

Ever guided by superstition, Trump echoed this approach during a rally in South Dakota alongside Governor Kristi Noem, openly grappling with the dilemma of how much attention to divert to the general election.

“He’s plummeted in the polls. Frankly, I’m not closely monitoring his performance,” Trump remarked regarding DeSantis. “They say, ‘Sir, forget about him, he’s finished.’ But I contend that nobody’s fate is sealed until the final bell tolls, right?”

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