Biden campaign plots stay-the-course strategy after Trump verdict

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the National Memorial Day Wreath-Laying and Observance Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., May 27, 2024. REUTERS/Ken Cedeno/ File Photo

Typically, if your political opponent is convicted of a felony, it’s considered a rare gift.

But as the world anticipates a verdict in Donald Trump’s criminal case in New York, President Joe Biden’s campaign does not plan to change course, even for a guilty verdict.


Biden aides are happy to let other Democrats and allies paint Trump as a felon. Strategists have decided to keep the president’s focus on legislative accomplishments, threats to democracy and abortion access, according to two sources familiar with the planning.

The campaign is preparing a statement to be issued after a verdict that will remind supporters that “the only way to beat Trump is at the ballot box,” said an official familiar with the campaign’s strategy.

Biden’s campaign has been weighing how to handle the hush-money trial’s outcome for weeks, with some top campaign officials and Democratic allies pushing for doing more to highlight a guilty verdict if that is the jury’s decision.

While polling shows a guilty verdict could matter to voters, campaign officials believe in the end the jury’s decision — no matter the result — will not substantially change the dynamics of the election.

There are still some undecided points in Biden’s strategy, officials said, including whether they would label his Republican opponent a “convicted felon” in social media posts and campaign literature if he is found guilty.

The Biden campaign sought to seize on the wall-to-wall media coverage of the Trump trial on Tuesday by enlisting Hollywood star Robert De Niro to address the cameras outside the New York courthouse. The campaign provided talking points on Trump’s threat to democracy.

But campaign officials said the actor went off script and discussed a potential conviction.

“The fact is whether he’s acquitted, whether it’s hung jury, he is guilty — and we all know it,” De Niro said.

Opinion polls show a guilty verdict could pose some danger for Trump in an election that will potentially be decided by just tens of thousands of votes in a handful of battleground states.

One in four Republicans said they would not vote for Trump if he is found guilty in a criminal trial, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll of registered voters in April.

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