President Donald Trump has spent weeks and months ridiculing Joe Biden for his lack of energy. But, on an Election Day call with Fox & Friends on Tuesday morning, an incredibly downbeat president sounded like he’d just been shaken awake from a thousand-year slumber.
Trump appeared on the show as polls opened around the country, and the interview was presumably planned to whip his supporters into a frenzy for the final critical hours of the election campaign. Instead, Trump appeared on the show 45 minutes later than billed without any explanation, and, when he finally spoke, the president was obviously exhausted.
The 30-minute call, which was half the length of his usual phone-ins with his favorite morning hosts, was genuinely pretty dispiriting for supporters. Trump sometimes sounded pessimistic about his chances in the election, said that it had been an honor to serve the country, and at one point the hosts actually asked the president if he’d ever cried during his time in office.
From the very start of the call, Trump sounded like a man who was saying farewell. The president told the hosts: “This has been a very special show for me. From day one, we’ve had a great relationship, and you have a great show, so it’s been my honor.” Host Steve Doocy responded: “We are honored because you selected our show to be the first TV interview you did as president, so it’s great that you would join us today as well.”
The implication of Doocy’s reply, that this interview could be one of Trump’s last before election defeat, was left unsaid.
The call largely saw the president rely on tired soundbites and talk up the size of his rally crowds during a raging pandemic, but one interesting question was volleyed Trump’s way when he was asked about whether he plans to declare victory before the results are conclusive. Trump promised he wouldn’t do so as there’s “no reason to play games.”
But then he launched into a remarkably unconvincing rating of his chances at beating Biden—with or without any dirty tricks.
“When there’s victory, if there’s victory, I think we’ll have victory, I think the polls are, you know, suppression polls, and I think we’ll have victory,” said the president. “I think, you know, I look at it as being a very, um, you know, a very solid chance of winning. I don’t know what the chances are, I don’t know how they rate the chances, but I think we have a very solid chance of winning.”
But Trump seemed to keep speaking as if it was already a foregone conclusion that Biden would win and become president. At one point, when he was teed up by the hosts to launch a typical attack on the more progressive side of the Democratic party, Trump spoke as if he’d already lost. “Joe’s going to have a hard time, he’s not going to be able to handle them,” he said.
Fellow host Brian Kilmeade asked Trump if he felt emotional at his final event on Monday as it could have been “the last rally of your political life.” Trump said he did feel some emotion but said he was totally joking when he said on stage that he felt like crying. “Have you ever cried in your time as president?” the host asked, but the question went unanswered.
Trump also laid into Fox News, saying it was no longer as sycophantic as it had been four years ago, which has made his campaign more difficult. He said, “Fox has changed a lot. Somebody said, ‘What’s the biggest difference between this and four years ago?’ I said Fox, it’s much different, you know... Fox is a much different place in terms of politics.”
About half an hour into the call, with Trump’s team perhaps realizing that the call wasn’t quite the spirit-raiser needed on Election Day, Doocy said to Trump, “The White House team is telling us you have to go.”
Signing off, Trump said in what could be one of his final messages to the hosts as president, “It’s been an honor, and there’s been such love.”