Trump aides seek to set aside division and plan for final sprint to Election Day

www.chron.com
8 min read
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President Donald Trump's political advisers have sharply debated in recent days how to...
best spend their limited money in the campaign's last weeks as they seek to chart a path toward a repeat of their dramatic 2016 come-from-behind victory.

The final push to calm internal divisions comes as the president is once again barnstorming the country, down in the polls and facing rising rates of coronavirus infection, continued signs of economic distress and an opponent who has so far proved far more resistant to the president's attacks.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is leading Trump's reelection effort, convened an all-hands meeting Thursday morning at the party headquarters in Washington to bring together top advisers for the Republican National Committee and the campaign. At issue was how and where the campaign, which has been operating with sometimes conflicting sets of voter-targeting data, should spend its remaining funds.

In recent days, the debates over messaging have reached the Oval Office, and advisers have raised concerns about a lack of coordination between the national party, which controls much of the ground operation, and the campaign, which has been buying most of the ads and directing surrogate travel, according to people familiar with the conversations.

The 11th-hour machinations in the White House come as the Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, continues to outraise and outspend Trump and deliver a closing argument largely focused on the president's troubled handling of the pandemic.

While Trump continues to boast of large crowds, Biden has kept up a much less aggressive schedule, intentionally avoiding large gatherings that could facilitate viral spread. Biden's advisers have also started warning supporters that the advantage Democrats now have will dwindle in the coming weeks, possibly setting the stage for another November surprise.

"We cannot become complacent because the very searing truth is that Donald Trump can still win this race, and every indication we have shows that this thing is going to come down to the…
Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey
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