Trump's strategy: entering blue areas, courting minorities and an unfriendly public

The Trump campaign is increasingly entering hostile territory.

The strategy, I'm told, is to demonstrate that the former president can make his case in Democratic areas and force the Biden campaign to play defense.

But it goes deeper than that.

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By campaigning in places where he normally wouldn't be welcome, Donald Trump is sending the message that he is a fighter — especially during the weeklong break from the hush money trial, which resumed yesterday with closing arguments. A conviction in that criminal trial could of course change the playing field.

Exhibit A in Trump's new playbook was the visit to the South Bronx, a prime symbol of urban decay. He didn't go because he thinks he can win the Bronx, or New York City, or New York State. Trump was going to send a message that he cares about minority voters.

He drew a few thousand supporters to a park where he performed mostly his greatest hits, including 10 minutes about how he rebuilt an ice skating rink in Central Park decades ago, complete with the construction details. But he also said he would rebuild the city. Polls show Trump polling better among blacks than any Republican candidate in more than a generation, while Joe Biden has fallen among that crucial Democratic constituency.

Former President Donald Trump holds a rally in the historically Democratic South Bronx in New York City on May 23, 2024. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Going to the Bronx, where the Queens-born Trump studied for two years, was a curveball. And as some liberals blasted wealthy Republicans for venturing into their territory, the controversy fueled the news cycle for days, a Trump specialty.

The former president also spoke at a massive rally along the coast in New Jersey, another state he won't win, and headed to the blue state of Minnesota, which he would only organize if the election was a blowout.

I don't think the Biden camp will fall for these fakes. The president should focus on Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where he is trailing by a few points in most polls, for an Electoral College victory. Scranton Joe has practically settled in Pennsylvania, close to Delaware, and yet is still slightly behind in most battleground polls. He and Kamala Harris are back in Philly today.

Perhaps the clearest sign of Trump's unorthodox approach is his weekend speech to the Libertarian Convention. This was widely portrayed as a disaster, as Trump was widely booed during his appearance.

He made some promises, such as appointing a libertarian to the cabinet and pardoning a libertarian who ran an illegal online drug market.

But the cheers grew louder when he asked for the party's nomination. Libertarians have long been critical of Trump's record.

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Trump argued that they could win together. While the boo birds held out, he pushed back: Maybe you don't want to win. You can continue to get 3 percent in every election.

Trump argued the next day that as a Republican candidate he should not seek another party's nomination — even though he had done just that.

While many consider the entire episode a fiasco, I have an opposing opinion.

Bronx Trump supporters

Supporters of Donald Trump try to catch a glimpse of the former president during a rally in Crotona Park in the Bronx, New York City on May 23, 2024. (Michael Ruiz/Fox News Digital)

Trump showed a willingness to step into the lion's den. He stood his ground against the shouting. He showed his boxing style before he had to know this would be an unfriendly reception.

That's in stark contrast to Biden giving safe economic speeches, based mainly on past legislation, to a safe audience.

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Now the spotlight shifts back to the hush money trial, which the jury will get today.

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