After an internal poll showed President Donald Trump trailing Democratic frontrunner and former Vice President Joe Biden in key states, he instructed aides to say publicly other surveys showed him doing well, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

The “devastating” 17-state poll conducted by campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, showed the president trailing Biden in a number of those states, as well as in public polls from key states Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. In 2016, the president ran on a platform to revitalize Rust Belt states heavily dependent on steel production and other manufacturing that appealed to a blue collar base. Biden, a longtime Delaware senator, has a reputation for championing blue collar jobs and issues, and that history may be cutting into inroads Trump made against Hillary Clinton in the last election cycle.

“No one has ever asked us to lie about anything," a Trump campaign official told thehill.com in a statement on Tuesday, referring to Trump instructing aides to focus on positive polls. "The poll in question shows President Trump beating a defined Democrat opponent.”

 

 

For the first time in the run-up to the 2020 election, both the president and Biden are campaigning in Iowa on the same day. Trump will visit a Council Bluffs ethanol plant and talk about renewable energy on the western side of the state, and later attend a Republican fundraising dinner in Des Moines. Biden will be campaigning in eastern Iowa, according to his schedule.

Biden has occupied a special space in Trump’s head, sources say, so it is no wonder the Trump campaign has delighted in recent Biden missteps. Democratic challengers criticized Biden for his long support of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to provide abortion procedures. Due in large part to that criticism Biden has reversed his position. Also, a comprehensive Biden initiative on climate change has come under scrutiny for its similarity to other plans without crediting them. Biden also didn’t attend a three-day California Democratic Convention in which 15 of his 23 challengers for the party’s nomination attended, including all other frontrunners.

 

 

However, Biden’s stumping in Iowa at the same time as a Trump visit sets up favorable optics for the Democratic frontrunner – a head-to-head, if still-distant match-up with the president far from the historically large field of other Democratic hopefuls.

For weeks the two have poked one another from a distance, on their differing ages, policy issues and character. Even before Biden officially announced his candidacy, Trump had dubbed him, “Sleepy Joe,” and questioned his fitness for the job. Biden is 76 and Trump will be 73 this week.

In a Quinnipiac University poll last week Trump trailed Biden by 4% in Texas, a state no Democrat has won since 1976.  Another poll in Michigan, a state Trump won by little more than 10,000 votes in 2016, showed him trailing, Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as well as South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg.