Radical or moderate? Trump paints Democratic ticket as both

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

President Donald Trump calls for questions during a news conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON – An overzealous prosecutor trying to hide her crime-fighting past — who is also weak on crime. The most radical pick for vice president ever — but too moderate to energize progressive Democrats.

President Donald Trump's campaign is struggling to define California Sen. Kamala Harris, the newly announced running mate for Democratic rival Joe Biden.

And without a clear message, Trump has reverted to his usual playbook, resorting to sexist and racist attacks. He has repeatedly called Harris “nasty” and has leaned into appeals that appear stuck in a fictionalized version of the 1950s.

“The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me. They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood. Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!” he tweeted Wednesday, incorrectly spelling the name of the Democratic senator and former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, who is also Black.

Like Biden, Harris has staked out relatively moderate stances over the course of her career on issues such as health care and law enforcement. That's complicating the Trump campaign's crude efforts to depict the Democratic ticket as out of step with the country.

With Trump lagging in the polls less than 90 days before the election, his team faces a pivotal choice. Do they attempt to fire up their own base and scare off moderates by painting Biden and Harris as radical socialists? Or do they aim to depress enthusiasm among the Democratic base by arguing Biden and Harris are opportunistic and insufficiently liberal?

Biden and Harris can't be both. But that hasn't stopped Trump and his allies from trying to make the incongruous portrayals stick.

“Clearly, Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals, as well as try to bury her record as a prosecutor, in order to appease the anti-police extremists controlling the Democrat Party,” senior campaign adviser Katrina Pierson said in the Trump's campaign's first statement responding to the news.