In a New York Times op-ed, David Axelrod offers succinct advice to whomever ends up being the 2020 Democratic nominee: "Don't play." As in, don't play with Trump when he launches his inevitable attacks. "Wrestling is Mr. Trump’s preferred form of combat," writes the Democratic strategist. "But beating him will require jiu-jitsu, a different style of battle typically defined as the art of manipulating an opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force." In Axelrod's view, the person best equipped to defeat Trump in the election is Trump himself—if only Democrats will let him.
Axelrod digs deeper into the strategy, arguing that Trump's "serial assaults (on) decency" are eroding key parts of the base that elected him. That is particularly true of white women who didn't go to college. They backed Trump by 27 points in 2016, but the latest polls give him a scant 4-point lead in the demographic over Joe Biden. "If I were sitting in the Trump war room, this number, more than any other, would alarm me," writes Axelrod. It doesn't bode well for Trump because it's a safe bet he won't change his ways, but all of this offers a path for his challenger. "To win, the Democrats will have to turn Mr. Trump’s negative energy against him without embodying it themselves." Read the full column. (Read more David Axelrod stories.)