Blame Game’s Back as Trump Eyes Campaign Pivot

(Bloomberg) --

Donald Trump launched his campaign for president five years ago with a speech that characterized Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers.

Amid rising disapproval of his coronavirus response — and a record spike in unemployment — Trump is returning to a familiar playbook as he seeks a second term.

As Mario Parker explains, the president is reviving the heated rhetoric that got him elected: blaming China, pointing fingers at global institutions and, especially, cracking down on immigrants.

Trump’s signature 2016 campaign promise was to build wall at the southern U.S. border — and have Mexico pay for it. That hasn’t happened. But his efforts won him loyal bands of supporters, and now he’s pursuing a 60-day ban on new green cards.

The move positions Trump to use immigrants as a target for U.S. job losses and sends a signal to his base, which has been involved in staging demonstrations over the government-ordered lockdowns in several Democratic-led states.

Protesters have accused Democratic governors of imposing overly severe closures of public spaces, stoking the argument that they, not Trump, are to blame for the pandemic’s economic fallout.

A quarter of working Americans believe it’s “very likely” or “fairly likely” they will lose their job in the next 12 months, according to a Gallup poll

So it’s not hard to see why a president who’s planned to seek re-election under the slogan “Keep America Great” might pivot to finger pointing.

Blame Game’s Back as Trump Eyes Campaign Pivot

Global Headlines

Oil market bloodbath | The “American Energy Dominance” that Trump proclaimed last year is over, as the collapse in world oil prices brings a brutal end to the shale revolution. With global demand crushed by coronavirus lockdowns, concerns that the unwanted crude is going to overwhelm storage capacity have triggered a selling frenzy. That’s left operators in the U.S. switching off wells and abandoning fracking.

Misdirected money? | No one wants to take the blame for the loophole that allowed name-brand restaurant chains like Shake Shack to get huge sums of U.S. pandemic-relief money meant for small businesses. As Ben Brody, Steven T. Dennis and Naomi Nix report, lobbyists, lawmakers and agency officials are all denying responsibility.

  • We take a closer look at the $7.2 billion in contracts the federal government has awarded so far — including one that would pay a biotech firm more than its reported revenue for the last three years combined.
  • Click here for more on how JPMorgan Chase & Co’s smallest customers were almost entirely shut out of small business relief aid.
  • The House is poised today to approve a new $484 billion stimulus package.

Pushed around | European governments are usually more reluctant to take swipes at China than their American counterparts. The wall of criticism from Berlin, Paris, London and Brussels over Beijing’s aggressive diplomacy during the Covid-19 crisis points to a change in attitude in Europe. As Alan Crawford and Peter Martin report, the anger is spurring European attempts to reduce its dependence on China.

Facing meltdown | Russia’s small business sector may shrink by as much as half amid the havoc wreaked by the coronavirus shutdown and plunging oil prices. With millions of jobs at risk, President Vladimir Putin is under pressure after promising a big increase in government support last week. Business groups say the measures fall short, with most aid going to big, often state-controlled companies. “Putin is losing the entrepreneurial class,” said one analyst.

Tense summit | European Union leaders are heading to a key virtual summit tomorrow without any concrete proposals from the bloc’s institutions on how to finance a controversial economic recovery fund, raising the chances of yet another inconclusive showdown, Nikos Chrysoloras writes. The call comes amid deep divisions between member states on how to share the burden of the spending needed to salvage their damaged economies.

What to Watch

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus strategy faces its first major political test since the U.K. went on lockdown a month ago when members of Parliament question ministers in a sitting today conducted via video-conference.
  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will replace five senior officials, including the minister overseeing constitutional and mainland affairs, as part of one of the biggest cabinet reshuffles in years.
  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a $26 billion package to shore up an economy devastated by the fallout from the pandemic.

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And finally ... For most of Europe, the easing of  lockdowns will bring relief and a sense that the worst is over. For the social workers tracking domestic abuse, it’s likely to uncover more terrible news, with many women trapped with violent partners, unable to leave home to seek help. The death toll is shocking. In the first three weeks of the U.K.’s lockdown, there were at least 16 domestic-abuse homicides — that’s more than double the normal rate, and the highest it’s been for 11 years, during the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Blame Game’s Back as Trump Eyes Campaign Pivot

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