Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

Team Trump Hasn’t Figured Out How to Attack Kamala

Kamala is a cop? Kamala is a cop!
August 12, 2020
Team Trump Hasn’t Figured Out How to Attack Kamala
(Hannah Yoest / Photos: GettyImages)

Donald Trump’s army of Twitter trolls were primed and ready to take down the person who, from the beginning, was seen as Joe Biden’s most likely vice presidential nominee—Kamala Harris.

Are you ready for their stunning line of attack?

Kamala is a cop.

Or as I would put it . . . Kamala Is A Cop!!!

Bam! Put that bad boy on a t-shirt!

What’s that? The guys and gals at the Federalist already did that for us? Hell yeah.

This whole deal leaves me a bit confused. After all, I thought that the Trump campaign’s big summer offensive was that Joe Biden is a Trojan horse for the Antifa Squad that wants to defund the police and allow looters and statue-desecrators to run free. Seems like picking a cop as his VP undermines that message a bit.

Maybe this is all just a bit of social media chatter though, lets see what the official response from the Trump campaign is.

So . . . Kamala Harris is a phony cop who is going to bury her record in order to be a . . . Trojan horse for the anti-police extremists.

What the Trump campaign is offering here is a rare attack, indeed. The double Trojan horse! A squad inside a horse inside a bigger horse.

We’ve come to expect the unexpected from our branding-maestro, world-champion-troll president.

And the double Trojan horse is a striking image.

But from another vantage point, it could be seen as a pretty weak mega bank shot from a campaign team that has failed to settle on an effective strategy for fighting their actual opponents, rather than the people they wish were their opponents.

This less generous reading is supported by the disjointed messaging that was presented in the president’s hastily arranged and meandering press conference following the pick, as well as the activity from his top surrogates and campaign staff.

One might have expected that Trump would use the platform afforded him to define the new addition to his opponent’s ticket. But he not only failed to offer a tailored line of attack, he failed to demonstrate that he had even so much as read a basic bio on his opponent.

He repeatedly mentioned that Harris had been “nasty”—one of his go-to insults for women—and “disrespectful” to Justice Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings and to Vice President Biden during the primary debates. “She was the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate,” said the president known for his abiding commitment to decorum in political debate. He also focused, as is his wont, on her negative poll numbers during the primary. But when asked specifically about her record as California attorney general and past inconsistencies on policy matters, Trump fell back on the same pablum that he sends in every endorsement tweet. She wants to raise taxes, cut military spending, and is a friend to the radical left.

That was all he had.

Meanwhile his former campaign manager, who continues to fund a lavish lifestyle on the Trump campaign dime, sent a tweet implying that Biden was a sexual predator and Harris was his victim. House majority leader Kevin McCarthy went with the tried and true “San Francisco liberal” attack, despite the fact that she lives in Brentwood. (The tweet was subsequently deleted.) Mark Levin went the steam trumpet route, kicking off his show with an unprompted rant about how Kamala Harris is not African-American since her parents are of Indian and Jamaican ancestry. Dinesh D’Souza tweeted that she is a “beneficiary, not a victim of slavery.”

The Trump campaign comms team tried to brand her as a “phony,” but when Trump was asked about that at the press conference he seemed unfamiliar with the coinage and asked the reporter to repeat it.

Donald Trump Jr. went with the attack that Harris is part of the “radical left” and campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said she was “more liberal” than Bernie Sanders. Yet the populist MAGA crowd tried to make the case that picking a neoliberal shill like Harris proves the left doesn’t actually care about Sanders voters. And an RNC email argued that Sanders liberals were “revolting” over the Harris section.

So to sum up:

Kamala Harris is a cop—

—who is an anti-police extremist.

A radical leftist—

—who is causing a “revolt” among Bernie voters.

A phony—

—who was too nasty to Joe Biden.

Got that?

The Trump campaign has 83 days left to figure it out.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.