MIAMI — The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee are ramping up an “aggressive” rapid response effort both nationally and locally for the Democratic debates, with a war room locked and loaded with live tweeters, real-time fact-checkers, and new hashtags in an effort to maintain momentum for Trump 2020.
As the first group of Democratic candidates takes the debate stage Wednesday night, RNC and Trump campaign officials will be hunkered down in their operation center out of a hotel in downtown Miami.
President Trump, aboard Air Force One en route to Japan, drew attention to the rapid-response units in a late Wednesday tweet.
Trump Victory Regional Director Rick Gorka told Fox News that RNC officials including Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel; Trump campaign members like Director of Strategic Communications Marc Lotter and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany; and surrogates are prepared for a vigorous counter-response to all 20 Democratic candidates’ messaging on the debate stage Wednesday and Thursday night.
The rapid response team will consist of RNC, Trump campaign, and Trump Victory officials who are slated to live tweet the debates, complemented by social media graphics, fact-checking in real time and email blasts. The responses, according to Gorka, will be in English, Spanish and Mandarin.
“We will be using the ‘Lead Right’ hashtag for the field program, which is part of the Trump Victory leadership initiative, and the ‘Trump 2020’ hashtag that we typically populate for big events,” Gorka told Fox News, noting that the hashtags were used last week when President Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign.
“When you see #LeadRight trending, you feel powerful. You feel part of a movement, which we’re trying to create,” Gorka said.
The emails will be sent by the national RNC communications team. Wednesday's first offers a sense of their tone, headlined: "Democrat Debate: Night(mare) One–Tonight’s Debate Will Be A Who’s Who Of Radical Progressives Offering A Smorgasbord Of Socialist Policies, Irresponsible Give-A-Ways And Half-Baked Ideas."
Ahead of the debates this week, the RNC and Trump Victory are also hosting events in more than 20 states in an effort to “push and to localize what the policies of the Democratic field would mean.”
In Miami on Wednesday, RNC Chairwoman McDaniel hosted an event at Versailles—a famous Cuban restaurant and frequent campaign stop for candidates passing through Miami, known for its food and “a side of politics .” McDaniel’s stop, like others across the country this week, was focused on highlighting “the left-leaning lurch of the Democrat Party toward socialism.”
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel stops by Versailles in Miami, ahead of the June 26 Democratic primary debate. (FNC/Brooke Singman)
“There is no community that understands that better than the Cuban community here in Miami, many of them fled the Castro regime because they know what socialism means,” McDaniel said. “It’s not a buzz word for them, it is something that’s frightening and when you hear the likes of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and Democrats embracing a government takeover of health care, of education, or redistribution, there is no community that can more successfully and more poignantly articulate what that means…than the Cuban community here.”
The RNC is slated to host a similar event on Thursday ahead of the second debate, focused on Hispanic unemployment and the “economic progress made over the last three years.”
“We’re trying to create local events to showcase what the president’s record is,” Gorka told Fox News.
Democrats, for their part, are sure to make Trump a punching bag on both nights in Miami. In the run-up, some candidates were slamming his administration over numerous reports of unsanitary conditions at migrant facilities along the border.
"What @realDonaldTrump's admin is doing is intentional cruelty – a deliberate attempt to destroy families and psychologically scar children. Shame on @realDonaldTrump & shame on his @SenateGOP allies who have done his bidding on these horrific policies," Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted.
But Gorka suggested Democrats would go too far, saying his team is curious what the “next litmus test” will be for Democratic candidates.
“What I’m looking forward to tonight and tomorrow night is to see what is the craziest policy proposal that gets thrown out and shocks—and then becomes the norm by the time we get to Detroit next month,” Gorka said. “The Democrats trip over themselves to try to establish themselves as the progressive standard-bearer for the new Democratic Party, so we’ll see who tries to take that mantle tonight and tomorrow night.”
Gorka said team Trump is focused on former Vice President Joe Biden, the current front-runner in the crowded Democratic primary field who they said would be “his own worst enemy” as he attempts to “conform to today’s Democratic Party.”
“Every election boils down to either stay the course or to change, and if the Democrats are banking on a change election, Joe Biden is not a change agent,” Gorka said.
The Trump campaign and RNC’s efforts come after Trump announced his second White House bid in Florida last week. The campaign-party operation raised $24.8 million in less than 24 hours—a figure that blew past what any of the Democratic candidates raised in the entire first quarter. According to an RNC spokesman, the fundraising came through the Trump re-election campaign and joint-fundraising committees Trump Victory and Trump MAGAC (Make America Great Again Committee).
Meanwhile, as his team launches their counter-messaging attacks, the president will be watching the Democratic showdown from his plane as he heads to Japan for a summit.
“[E]veryone said I’ll be tweeting, I’ll actually be on a plane, and it just seems very boring, but I’m going to watch it because I have to,” Trump told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo Wednesday. “That’s part of my life, you know, it's part of my life.”
He added: "Do I want to watch it? Do I want to watch these people? That’s a very unexciting group of people."