Three months after taking office, Donald Trump was apparently still feeling insecure about the legitimacy of his presidency. During a Reuters interview two days shy of the 100-day mark, Trump interrupted a discussion about China to hand out colored copies of the 2016 electoral map.
“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the president said from his desk, handing copies to each of the three Reuters reporters in the room. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”
Fortunately, we haven’t seen that pathetic display in recent months. Unfortunately, Trump has replaced this with something nearly as sad. Consider this tidbit from the Wall Street Journal, which had an impromptu, 20-minute interview with the president yesterday.
Several times Mr. Trump interrupted the conversation to summon aides to the Oval Office to share charts showing his endorsement record and to discuss the size of his following on social media.
“So what’s my record?” he asked political director Bill Stepien, who said the president had yet to lose a candidate he has backed in Republican primary races.
Mr. Trump said he notched eight wins out of nine in special elections.
Note the specific wording of the report: Trump didn’t just interrupt the WSJ conversation with odd electoral boasts; he did this “several times.”
Making matters worse, as unintentionally amusing as the president’s antics were, the underlying claims weren’t even true.
First, Stepien’s assertions notwithstanding, Trump-backed candidates haven’t won all of their GOP primaries. Late last year, for example, the president not only endorsed then-Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican primary, Trump also went to Alabama to urge his supporters to support the appointed incumbent. Strange nevertheless lost by more than nine points.
The idea that Republican voters usually side with Republican candidates backed by a Republican president really isn’t all that impressive, but if Team Trump insists on making this an important boast, the president and his staff should at least try to tell the truth about it.
And second, GOP candidates haven’t won eight out of nine Trump-era special elections. Democrats won in California’s 34th congressional district, Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, and Alabama’s U.S. Senate special election.
Republicans have won the other eight Trump-era special elections, but in nearly every instance, Democrats over-performed, and the GOP had to scramble to salvage modest victories in “red” districts.
Maybe Trump should’ve stuck with the electoral maps.