Shh: Trump stays quiet as Biden implodes

Former President Trump’s campaign is doing something after last week’s debate that it isn’t necessarily known for: keeping quiet.

Trump, often a brash and boisterous candidate, has taken a more measured approach amid the wave of chaos and disarray that is surrounding President Biden’s political future.

“When your opponent is blowing himself up, don’t interrupt … There’s no reason to insert yourself in that conversation,” former Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), a former chair of the House GOP campaign arm, said of Trump laying low. “The discipline is smart on this topic, and he’s done a good job at that.

“Nobody in the Democratic Party cares about what Trump thinks whether Biden’s the candidate, so why talk,” he continued. “I’m glad to see he’s learned from 2020 because he wasn’t very disciplined then. I think it speaks to him learning from the past.”

The postdebate stretch is indicative of a much longer trend, say Republicans: Trump and his team are running a cleaner, more buttoned-up and more disciplined operation compared to his previous campaigns. That has started with Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, the two lead figures on Team Trump, who have received the lion’s share of praise for their running of the campaign.

Lawmakers and party operatives say they have also noticed a more disciplined and restrained version of the former president in recent months. A prime example some have pointed to was his visit to Capitol Hill last month that featured a meeting with senators that went off without a hitch.

That even included him extending what Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), a Trump ally, described as an “olive branch” to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others who have been critical of him in the past.

“Slowly, he’s become more and more disciplined in public,” said Mullin, who has met and spoken privately with Trump during the campaign. “What you’re seeing is a complete different approach and leadership style.”

“How hard could he really go on Joe Biden, because people did start feeling sorry for him. At some point if he goes too hard, it’s almost like he’s acting like a bully, and he’s already been accused of that before, so he kind of does have to dial it down because there’s no question that something’s completely off mentally with Biden.”

Mullin noted other instances of restraint by Trump this year, including his decision to hold off on killing the national security supplemental that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) helped shepherd through Congress and his recent endorsement of former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) Senate bid in the deep-blue state.

As Democrats contemplate their own future as a party with or without Biden, Republicans are urging each other and the former president to keep their eye on the prize in November.

“The question is will Biden be their nominee through November, and that’s totally a Democrat decision,” said David Polyansky, a longtime GOP political operative who served as deputy campaign manager for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s presidential campaign. “We need to stay the heck out of that. That’s not our fight, not our problem.”

Trump’s own donors are noticing his newfound discipline and are hopeful it continues.

“The campaign desperately wants him to be quiet,” said Dan Eberhart, a Trump donor, noting that Trump has been “more disciplined than in the past.”

Trump is also in the midst of perhaps the most fortuitous stretch he’s experienced throughout his campaign. On top of the debate, the Supreme Court handed Trump a win in its presidential immunity ruling on Monday, leading to the delay of his sentencing in the New York City hush money trial.

The first postdebate polls are also boding well for the former president. Trump expanded his lead to 8 points over Biden, according to a New York Times/Siena College survey released Wednesday. Trump’s allies have also been quick to point out a Saint Anselm College Poll that shows Trump overtaking Biden in the blue state of New Hampshire following the debate.

“If President Trump essentially stays pretty mellow and quiet, it’ll be a referendum on Joe Biden’s ability, and it takes away all of the critique of him and his style,” said Chris Ager, chair of the New Hampshire GOP. “Let the focus be on do you want four more years of Joe Biden.”

The only regret some allies have is that the debate took place when it did instead of in the fall.

“He probably had the best debate of his life — probably too good of a good debate to be honest,” Mullin said. “I wish now we would have had the debate after the Democratic convention just so they couldn’t have this debate about replacing him.”

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