Fox News anchor Sandra Smith repeatedly pressed Trump campaign communications director Erin Perrine on the president’s nonstop attacks on Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s mental health, telling the spokesperson on Monday that the broadsides were “not working” for Team Trump.
After accusing Biden of taking performance-enhancing drugs to improve his debate performance in a Fox News interview, the president spent the weekend railing against the former vice president’s mental acuity. The president’s attacks have been amplified and encouraged by many of Fox’s pro-Trump personalities.
Interviewing Perrine on America’s Newsroom on Monday morning, Smith brought up a recent Fox poll showing that despite Trump’s barrage of insults of Biden’s cognitive ability, more voters feel the ex-veep is better equipped mentally to handle the presidency than Trump.
“So seeing how this is not working in President Trump’s favor in the polls, why stick with this message?” Smith wondered aloud.
Perrine insisted that, in fact, “it is working in the polls,” noting that the president had gained slightly in the most recent Fox News poll. (Biden still led by five points, 51 percent to 46 percent.)
“The people trying to change their campaign messaging right now and strategy are the Biden campaign,” she claimed. “President Trump is out talking to the American people.”
But Smith pointed out that the poll showed that the public was far more concerned with the coronavirus, high unemployment, and crime, again asking the Trump flack why they were making Biden’s supposed mental decline a centerpiece of the president’s reelection campaign.
“It is a question the American people need to ask,” Perrine said. “Listen, if there is a crisis in the world and it is three in the morning, who do you want answering the phone at the White House? President Trump with a strong foreign policy record [of] protecting our people or Joe Biden, whose own campaign couldn’t make a declarative statement on whether or not he uses a teleprompter for interviews. That’s a serious question for the American people and we’re going to ask it.”
The Fox anchor went on to highlight Trump’s allegation that Biden is taking some kind of illicit drug to make him more lucid before again pressing Perrine on the president’s accusations and how it did not appear to be helping him with voters.
“I mentioned it’s not working for him in the polls,” Smith declared. “But when do you decide that that’s not working and pivot back to the election, pivot back to Americans’ safety, pivot back to getting people back to work—and millions of people are still without jobs?”
Perrine defended the strategy, claiming they “are talking about everything” and Trump “is asking questions and Joe Biden should answer them.”
Smith eventually moved on, pivoting to the president holding a large indoor rally in Nevada over the weekend despite it violating the state’s emergency coronavirus regulations.
“You see that and you think about the enormous sacrifice we’ve made as Americans to stop the spread of this virus and to tackle this pandemic,” the Fox host said. “I’ll just ask you as a member of the president’s campaign why you saw this as a risk worth taking to crowd those people, Biden’s camp making the case this could be a super spreader event. The governor has called it shameful, dangerous, and irresponsible to do this. Why do it?”
The campaign spokesperson noted the “First Amendment” gave them the right to “have a peaceful assembly of people,” adding that if people could “violently protest in the streets,” they could hold a campaign rally. (There have been no major coronavirus outbreaks definitively tied to protests over police brutality in recent months, likely in large part because they have taken place outdoors.)
“Sounds like I have to say two wrongs don’t make a right,” Smith pushed back. “This goes against the president’s own administration guidelines. It goes against the CDC guidelines when it comes to coronavirus.”