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Playing Down Impeachment, Trump Campaign Voices Confidence

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 13, 2019.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 13, 2019.

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign on Thursday shrugged off the president's expected impeachment less than a year before Election Day, talking up the campaign's data collection efforts and declaring that no one in the Democratic field can compete with the incumbent.

With a House impeachment vote expected next week, the campaign stressed that polls indicate impeachment is unpopular with independents, particularly in battleground states. And the campaign declared that Trump may now have a glide path to reelection, though he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots in 2016 and captured Electoral College votes by razor-thin margins in three Rust Belt states.

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a senior White House adviser, was one of several senior campaign officials who briefed reporters Thursday on the state of the campaign. He said that when the reelection team looks at the Democratic field, "We don't see anyone who can put together the Obama coalition. We're on offense everywhere, and we're very excited about that."

FILE - White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.
FILE - White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.

Kushner, who was a Democrat before helping steer his father-in-law's surprise victory three years ago, added: "I was not a Republican. Now I'm a Republican. I think the Republican Party is growing now that people like me feel comfortable being part of it."

The strategy laid out is multi-pronged, including a focus on turning out supporters of the president who stayed home during the 2018 midterms; a robust data operation fueled by collecting information at the president's raucous rallies; a volunteer-heavy and technology-driven organization far more professional than the low-budget 2016 version; and a commitment to expanding possible paths to victory by competing in 17 battleground states, including Minnesota, New Hampshire and New Mexico, where Trump lost last time.

A key to reelection: turning out the 8.8 million voters the campaign has identified as backing the president in 2016 and who still support him, but who did not vote during the midterms because Trump's name wasn't on the ballot.

The campaign's presentation included its fair share of chest-thumping and included the claim that impeachment may be a political win. Trump stands poised to become only the third president to be impeached, and he would be the first impeached president to run for reelection.

"This lit up our base, lit up the people that are supporters of the president. They're frustrated, they're upset, and that motivates voters,'' said campaign manager Brad Parscale. "They have ignited a flame underneath them.''

Although he declared that Trump did not deserve to be impeached, Parscale said that the proceedings have helped the campaign's volunteer recruitment and fundraising.

"That has put money in our bank. It has added volunteers to our field program,'' Parscale said. "It's filled up the rallies easier.''

Poll numbers

That stood in stark contrast to the somber tone struck by Democrats, including those running for president, who believe that Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate a political foe are grounds for impeachment. Democratic lawmakers say they are proceeding with efforts to impeach Trump out of constitutional duty, not political gain.

The president has claimed the opposite, denouncing impeachment as a purely partisan political play.

Although Trump's approval numbers have remained underwater throughout his presidency, campaign officials said he would achieve reelection in part because even some voters who do not like him personally would support him next year because of his policies and the state of the economy.

National polls have consistently shown Trump trailing most major Democratic candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Polls in battleground states show a much closer race.