President Donald Trump’s campaign is working on winning again in the states he took in 2016 but argued Trump doesn’t need to win every single one, as he’s poised to flip several he narrowly lost.
“We intend to protect this 2016 map. We only need to win either Wisconsin, or Michigan, or Pennsylvania to win this thing again,” new campaign manager Bill Stepien told reporters in a call on Friday.
“If we win any of these three states and the states the president won in 2016, Joe Biden stays in his basement. The president’s in the White House for four more years.”
Trump won all three states over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, but the narrow margins has Democrats confident they can flip them back. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive 2020 Democratic nominee, was born in Pennsylvania and has campaigned there multiple times in recent months.
Trump campaign officials said they believe the campaign has “optionality” with multiple paths to victory. While trying to play defense in the states the Republican won, they’re targeting four states that Trump was close to victory in: New Hampshire, Minnesota, Maine, and Nevada.
Stepien, who took the helm from Brad Parscale this month, also discussed efforts in Ohio, Arizona, Florida, and North Carolina.
While many national polls have Trump losing, campaign officials said there are issues with the surveys and pointed to many polls in 2016 being wrong, leading to widespread shock when Trump pulled off the win.
The party is in a much better situation than they were after Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 nominee, lost badly to President Barack Obama, Stepien argued. Romney won just 102 electoral votes, while Trump took 304 to Clinton’s 227.
Biden’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment for this story.
Democrats see some states that have long gone for Republicans as flippable, noting the realignment in U.S. politics that included Trump winning states that hadn’t gone for the GOP in decades.
Among the states Democrats are targeting: Texas, Georgia, and Arizona.
Stepien scoffed at notions the former two are in play, inviting the Biden campaign to spend heavily in both states.
The same conversations were going on in 2016 but the states ended up backing Trump, he pointed out.
Trump won Texas by 9 percentage points over Clinton and Georgia by 5.1 percentage points over his top rival.
While the Trump campaign is confident the president will win a second term, officials acknowledged the race could be close.
“This will be a knockdown dragout fight to the very end,” Stepien said. “I spent election night 2016 not in the hotel ballroom but rather in election headquarters sending recount lawyers to states because the races were so tight in so many places. I expect our campaign will be doing the same exact thing in just about 100 days.”
Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, announced this week a $15 million advertising campaign in Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida.
It was also using surrogates for virtual events targeting Las Vegas, part of Virginia, Milwaukee, Detroit, and other places, the Associated Press reported.
“We’re not trying to get to 400 electoral votes,” Biden’s deputy campaign manager Kate Bedingfield told the outlet in a recent interview. “But we’re trying to have as many paths as possible to the 270 that it takes to win.”