U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Monday he is leading a "motley crew" of Democratic presidential contenders seeking to oust him in the 2020 election, even as his campaign dismissed three pollsters after surveys leaked showing Trump badly trailing the leading Democrat, former Vice President Joe Biden.
"Only Fake Polls show us behind the Motley Crew," Trump said on Twitter.
News accounts in the U.S. said Trump was incensed that leaked polls from his own campaign showed him losing to Biden in key battleground states that are likely to be crucial to the outcome of the Nov. 3, 2020, election.
The internal polling in March showed Trump trailing Biden, who is currently leading 22 other Democrats seeking the party's presidential nomination, by 16 percentage points in Pennsylvania, 10 in Wisconsin and seven percentage points in Florida. Trump won all three states in the 2016 election against Democrat Hillary Clinton and would likely need to claim them again to win a second four-year term in the White House.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale confirmed the poll results, but said they were outdated, "ancient, in campaign terms."
To shrink the possibility of future leaks, Trump's campaign fired three of the five pollsters working for him.
Independent polling also shows the U.S. president trailing hypothetical opponents nearly 17 months ahead of the election.
A survey by Fox News, Trump's favorite cable television news operation, showed Trump losing to Biden by 10 points, to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by nine, to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren by two and by a single point to both California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Polls this early in the contest are not necessarily predictive, but rather a snapshot of a moment in time.
Within hours of being inaugurated in 2017, Trump declared his candidacy for re-election. But he is officially starting his re-election campaign late Tuesday night in Orlando, Florida, with an expected crowd of 20,000 supporters filling a basketball arena and many more watching on television screens outside.