(CNN)Now that we’re in the post-Labor Day sprint toward Election Day, the incumbent president should, in theory, have the upper hand in the news cycle. But a series of stories have shaken President Donald Trump’s narrative.
It began with continuing fallout from The Atlantic’s reporting that Trump referred to fallen US service members as “losers” and “suckers” during a November 2018 trip to France.It’s still early, but there’s signs of a real impact. As CNN’s pollster Jenn Agiesta wrote this week, data shows “the story appears to have had a more widespread and quick impact on what Americans are hearing about Trump than any other controversial story about the President that has come to light” over the last 10 weeks.Then came the revelations — and audio tapes of Trump himself — from 18 interviews with Bob Woodward’s forthcoming book.
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Wherein Trump states in stark and specific terms, on February 7, that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious and “more deadly than even your strenuous flus.” That was 22 days before the first death in the US from coronavirus. Read MoreTrump admitted to Woodward in a March 19 interview to playing it down to not cause a panic. Trump defended the move during a Thursday night rally in Michigan (where few supporters wore masks). “As Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.’ We’re doing very well. As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, ‘Keep calm and carry on.’ That’s what I did,” Trump said, later adding, “When Hitler was bombing London, Churchill, a great leader, would oftentimes go to a roof in London and speak. And he always spoke with calmness. He said we have to show calmness. No, we did it the right way. We’ve done a job like nobody.”While all eyes were on explosive revelations in the press, there’s one big number that spelled bad news for the Trump campaign itself.The Trump campaign reported its August fundraising total (it came out the same afternoon as the Woodward book excerpts) — and it’s a whopping $154 million less than Biden’s historic haul during that same window.We don’t yet know how much either candidate has on hand, but in terms of real impacts, a major fundraising gap can alter a campaign much more than a news story.The Point: Between revelations from The Atlantic story and Bob Woodward’s new book, plus that big gap in fundraising, this was an epically bad week for Trump.