Trump Told Aides 'I Am Not F------ Losing to Joe Biden' During Discussion on Weakening Polls: Report
In another interview this week, the president shrugged off polling: "I believe the people of this country are smart, and I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent"
"I am not f------ losing to Joe Biden," Trump, 73, repeatedly said while on conference calls last week with his campaign, the AP reported.
His anger was also reported on by CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post, and some of these outlets said it was partially aimed at his campaign manager, Brad Parscale. (A White House spokesman referred PEOPLE to the campaign for comment; a campaign official did not respond.)
On Twitter on Wednesday, he disputed that he had grown upset with Parscale.
"Just told that Fake News @CNN is falsely reporting that I was recently shouting at my campaign manager over made up nonsense. Actually, he is doing a great job," Trump wrote. "I never shouted at him (been with me for years, including the 2016 win), & have no intention to do so."
The president was in a series of campaign meetings over several days last week, according to the Post and other outlets.
According to the AP's story, citing five anonymous sources, Trump's outburst was prompted by "worrisome polling data that showed his support eroding in a series of battleground states" compared with the former vice president, 77.
"Trump was trailing the former Democratic vice president in many key battleground states," the AP reported.
The Times reported that, during one such call, "Trump said he would not lose to [Biden], insisted the data was wrong and blamed the campaign manager for the fact that he is down in the polls."
According to the Post, "After [one] call, Parscale described it to others as a Trump venting session."
His campaign has long seen his re-election bid as hinging on the country's strong economic performance. But the novel coronavirus pandemic upended that strategy by stranding millions of workers with historic unemployment claims as many industries have been frozen or forced to send people home to slow infections.
The president's personal posturing around the virus has also drawn intense scrutiny, with separate polling showing people's support of his leadership during the outbreak has decreased in recent weeks.
In the early part of the outbreak in America, Trump downplayed the virus compared to the flu and claimed Democrats were politicizing it as a "hoax" to harm him.
While he's become sharply more serious in how he discusses the pandemic, the president's combative daily press briefings fueled many critical headlines — including when he mused last week whether disinfectant could be used to treat the virus.
The recent campaign meetings highlighting the worrying polls were designed to help push him away from his focus on the briefings, according to the Post.
The president was reportedly reluctant to scuttle the briefings that have given him a new outlet after being forced to end his campaign rallies. But his snafu with the disinfectant suggestion effectively ended them anyway.
There has not been another such briefing since Friday, one day after his comments about possible treatments, and he took no questions there. Instead, he has held periodic other events from the White House as aides try to reorient the press' attention to other parts of their coronavirus response.
Trump continues to tout what he calls a live-saving decision to stop much of the travel from China in February and said his work expanding the ventilator supply was not getting enough attention.
On Thursday, he told reporters that compared to how his predecessor Barack Obama handled the H1n1 flu, "I think we did a spectacular job" with the coronavirus.
In an interview with Reuters on Wednesday, he said he didn't believe polling data that showed he was trailing Biden.
“I believe the people of this country are smart," he said. "And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.”