Trump Plans July 16 Helsinki Meeting with 2020 Campaign Manager

Meeting set

President Trump said this morning he plans to kick off his 2020 reelection effort in a strategic planning session with his campaign manager on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland.

“The Dems have already started rigging the election, so we have to be smart and not let them fraudulently get three million more votes than we did like they did last time,” Trump said.

Trump said his campaign manager, Vladimir Putin, “knows how to play tough” when it comes to winning elections, so that should serve as a warning to Democrats. “Vlad doesn’t fool around,” he said. “He gets in there and makes a difference, whether it’s on social media, cyber strategy, he has a plan for every situation.”

Trump-Putin: Stronger together?

Putin’s campaign experience in the United States is limited. He was heavily involved in Trump’s 2016 win—some analysts credit him with pulling Trump over the finish line ahead of Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton—but, beyond that, most of his experience is in Russian, Crimean, and Ukrainian elections.

“Putin’s a street fighter who cut his teeth in the ruthless electoral environment in Russia and Eastern Europe, where they don’t spend time worrying about things like polls,” says Seth Cohen, a campaign strategist who has worked for Democratic candidates in the United States and also some left-leaning candidates in Eastern Europe. “Assassination, poll tampering, intimidation, misinformation—he’s a master of all sorts of tricks that have only recently come to the United States. No doubt President Trump will ask him to leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding what works.”

Helsinki is a convenient place for the two of them to meet because they’ll already be there talking about bilateral issues between the United States and Russia. “When they’re done going over Russia’s invasion of Crimea, it’s an easy transition to start talking about what Trump needs to win in 2020,” says Heather Hanson, ABC political correspondent.

Republican campaign strategists say Trump, by tapping Putin, is clearly expecting Democrats not to make the same mistake they made in 2016.

“In 2016, Democrats brought a knife to a gun fight,” says Rebecca Majors, CNN political analyst. “Trump knows that, in 2020, they will most certainly bring a gun. So, this is where Putin comes with an advantage: poison, imprisonment, kompromat—he brings options that other campaign managers know little about.”

With Putin at the helm, there’s unlikely to be the same ambiguity over Trump’s 2020 victory that there was in 2016. “Here we are in 2018 and people are still asking if Trump is a legitimate president,” says Cohen. “Did FBI Director James Comey win the election for Trump? Did Russian meddling? We just don’t know. But in 2020 that will all be forgotten and Trump’s hold on power will be complete and unambiguous, no matter how people end up voting. It’s that kind of certainty and legitimacy that trump is craving and that Putin can deliver.”

This is a work of satire. It is a fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Photos: pd and cc. Creative Commons and public domain. Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.

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