Do nice guys finish last in presidential races? Joe Biden hopes not

By Francesca Chambers and Alex Roarty, McClatchy Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

Trump has acknowledged twice on recent occasions that Biden is better liked than his previous opponent.

"Clinton is much smarter, but not a likable person. Joe is not nearly as smart, but he's more likable," Trump said during an August speech. "So, you know, I don't know, maybe I'd rather have the smarter person. Who cares about personality, right? But that's the difference."

Philippe Reines, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Hillary Clinton, said that Trump has largely stayed away from character attacks on Biden that could highlight his own personal flaws.

"When you attack someone in this context you have to not be guilty of the thing you are attacking someone of," he said. "And even though Donald Trump enjoys this double standard, people are wiser to it than they were four years ago."

Trump's uncouth comments have drawn the most consistent criticism of Republicans throughout his tenure in office. But his campaign has in turn argued that directness is one of his greatest assets.

Last fall, the Trump campaign employed the unusual tactic of running an expensive World Series advertisement that proudly stated, "he's no Mr. Nice Guy." The commercial ended with the boast, "but sometimes it takes Donald Trump to change Washington."


Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and a senior adviser to the campaign, acknowledged that many people don't always love the way the president delivers every message, but added that they still believe he is doing what is necessary for the nation.

"Sometimes it takes someone like Donald Trump to step in. Somebody that's not going to be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows all the time but is going to be tough and direct and aggressive and make sure that the right thing happens for America," Lara Trump said. "And I think that that was generally the message of that ad, and I think that there are probably a lot of people who feel that way."

Trump's supporters see the message as core to his ability to retain the support of blue-collar voters who could decide the outcome of the election in battleground states.

"Part of Trump's angle has got to be, 'Hey, I am unconventional. This isn't a likability contest. This is about who is going to shake things up," former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said. "That's his best argument with swing voters."


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