CONSERVATIVES ARE are rightly outraged by Twitter's efforts to suppress the New York Post story about Hunter Biden's emails, and the mainstream media's failure to take the story seriously. Republicans in Congress are right to investigate. And the Republican National Committee is right to file a complaint against Twitter with the Federal Election Commission for censoring the story.

But here is what President Donald Trump needs to understand: This election is not going to turn on Hunter Biden.

While the story might energize the president's base, it won't help him win over voters who are not already supporting his reelection. Americans already know that Hunter Biden was flying around the world cashing in on his father's name and public office, and that Joe Biden allowed him to do so. How they feel about that is already baked into their votes. Right now, in the midst of a pandemic-induced recession, they care more about their own families than Joe Biden's family.

Unfortunately, the president is talking nonstop about the Biden family, calling it a "criminal enterprise." That is not the closing argument Trump needs to make before Election Day. His closing argument should be: I will restore the strong economy you loved before the pandemic hit, and Biden will ruin it with massive tax increases and socialist spending.

Trump should be using his last debate, and his final days on the campaign trail, to win over reluctant voters who approve of his policies but not of him. Gallup reports that 56% of Americans say they are better off now than they were four years ago — a stunning number considering we are in the middle of a pandemic and an economic crisis. Not only that, but a 49% plurality of Americans agree with Trump over Biden on the issues. And yet, in the RealClearPolitics polling average, less than 43% say they are voting to give him a second term. Why? Because while they like Trump's economic stewardship, they don't like the chaos of the past four years — and so they are reluctant to give him four more.

Trump's job is to change their minds. If he can moderate his behavior for just two weeks, that is an achievable goal. The polls in swing states are tightening. Some reluctant Trump voters are slowly, grudgingly coming home. He needs to encourage them, not drive them away. Biden is wooing those voters by stealing Trump's economic nationalist message in an effort to convince voters that they can have the Trump economy without Trump. The president needs to counter that argument by painting a picture of what America will look like if he wins the election — and what a disaster it will be if Biden does.

Railing about Hunter Biden does nothing to advance that message. Neither does telling a reporter that Biden "is a criminal . . . and you know who's a criminal here? You're a criminal for not reporting it." Quite the opposite: It helps Biden by showcasing everything these voters dislike about the president. If that is Trump's tone and message during Thursday's debate, it will be a disaster.

The best evidence that Trump's strategy of focusing on Hunter Biden is backfiring? On Monday, Joe Biden called a lid on his campaign until Thursday's debate. That's right: With just two weeks to go before Election Day, Biden is leaving the campaign trail for almost four days — ceding the stage to Trump. He clearly believes the president will use that stage to Biden's advantage.

Instead, Trump should use it to address reluctant voters' concerns. During his 2004 reelection, President George W. Bush delivered a message targeted at reluctant Bush voters. "In the last four years, you and I have come to know each other. Even when we don't agree, at least you know what I believe and where I stand," he said. "You may have noticed I have a few flaws, too. ... Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking.' Now and then I come across as a little too blunt — and for that we can all thank the white-haired lady sitting right up there," pointing to Barbara Bush.

The message was: I know I rub some of you the wrong way. I get it. But here is why you should vote for me anyway. That self-awareness gave reluctant Bush voters permission to vote for him, despite his perceived flaws. Trump has not sent a similar message to his reluctant voters. It's not too late to do so. But he needs to stop wasting his closing argument talking about Biden's family and focus on these voters' families.

Washington Post

Recommended for you