In his Rose Garden remarks Tuesday from the White House, President Donald Trump set the terms of engagement he will be taking against Joe Biden in this Fall's election.
"America lost nearly 10,000 factories while Joe Biden was vice president," the president said. "Think of that: 10,000 factories."
"So Biden was here for 47 years. Eight years — the last eight years, not long ago — as vice president, he said, 'One in five miles of our highways are still in poor condition.' Well, we’re doing a good job in highways, but why didn’t he fix them three years ago?" Trump asked the gathered media and cable news cameras. "Why didn’t he fix them?"
Trump went on to quote Joe Biden's remarks from earlier in the day. "'Tens of thousands of bridges are in disrepair and on the verge of collapse.' Well, it’s probably not a right number, but we have bridges that should have been fixed. Why didn’t he fix them? He was there for eight years with President Obama. Why didn’t they fix them?"
"And he didn’t do any of the things, but now he says he’s going to be president, and, as president, he’s going to do all the things that he didn’t do," Trump concluded.
It's a devastating and powerful campaign message for a man challenging the incumbent administration on its failures. But the really amazing thing is that Trump is the incumbent.
Donald Trump is a president running for re-election as an outsider.
Generally, when a president runs for re-election the campaign is a referendum on his performance over the past four years. Whoever is running as the challenger is inherently running as the fresh-faced upstart looking to bring a new approach to the tired, well-worn, same-old-same-old of the incumbent president.
But not this time around, Donald Trump, the man who has already defied the odds by flipping American political conventional wisdom on its head, has done it again.
How'd he do it?
Largely, the opportunity for Trump to run as an outsider from within the walls of the White House has been a gift freely given by various institutions.
First, by the Democrats themselves. They gave him the gift of Joe Biden as the presumptive nominee. If Hillary Clinton was a creature of the DC swamp that Trump vowed to drain, Joe Biden is the lease-holder of that swamp who predates Hillary the creature.
When Mrs. Clinton was a young staffer on the Watergate investigation in the early 1970s, Biden was already a US Senator. If you believe the DC establishment is part of the problem then Biden is the poster boy for that problem. Many of the voters who backed Trump in 2016 saw Clinton as the personification of the establishment and the problem... Biden is Hillary with a better pantsuit.
If the Democrats had nominated a figure who would represent "change" to the American voter, they probably would have peeled away some support from Mr. Trump by natural attrition of voters who took a chance on him and have been dissatisfied with him. Instead, they nominated a man who represents the "let's go back to the good old days of the last 47 years" message that nobody believes.
Trump has also received a huge gift from the media and permanent DC political class who have opposed him from the very beginning with fake news stories, fake scandals, corrosive investigations, insubordinate sabotage within the government, and outright defiance of his legitimacy to run the executive branch of our government.
Think of it: Trump can legitimately run for re-election against Washington, DC, by correctly arguing that he was never really given the chance to carry out his agenda and have a fully-functioning administration.
His nominations have been dragged out with many positions left unfilled because "the resistance" has used every stall tactic at their disposal.
He's had to operate from day one with the cloud of fake scandal and suspicion hanging over him thanks to carry-overs in the FBI, CIA, and the NSA who remained loyal to the last administration and worked to undermine the new one.
Even members of his own party have childishly worked to undermine his agenda and his authority for their own selfish political ends.
Trump even had to deal with a member of his administration penning an op-ed in The New York Times under the "anonymous" byline proclaiming to the world that there are forces within the administration working against the president's will.
And with all of that stacked against him, Trump can legitimately make the case to the American people that he was able to accomplish great things with our economy, unemployment, taxes, national security, and trade.
Donald Trump is the president of the United States, the ultimate symbol of power, the establishment and insider status. And thanks to the Democrats, the media, the DC establishment, and disloyal members of his own party, he is running as the ultimate outsider fighting against the very unpopular, powerful Washington establishment.
And it just might work.