Trump Is Blocking Out the Sun: Three Writers on the Politics of the Guilty Verdict

Frank Bruni, a contributing Opinion writer, hosted a written online conversation with Josh Barro, who writes the newsletter Very Serious, and Olivia Nuzzi, the Washington correspondent for New York magazine, to banter and bicker about the potential political fallout of the Trump conviction.

Frank Bruni: Josh, Olivia, great to be with you. I want to start not with Donald Trump but with Joe Biden. What happens on Nov. 5 has as much to do with Biden’s navigation of the coming months as with Trump’s, and Biden is getting all sorts of conflicting advice.

What’s the optimal balance between running against a “convicted felon” and focusing on the day-to-day concerns of less partisan, less engaged voters? I for one think Biden needs to be very careful about overdoing the felon part — voters are well aware of Trump’s status, transgressions and, er, character. Your thoughts?

Josh Barro: A defining feature of this campaign, as Nate Cohn has written on extensively for The Times, is that Biden’s support has been holding up well among highly engaged voters and has fallen terribly over the last four years among less-engaged Americans. Much of Biden’s slide in the polls is because of worsening views of him among people who did not vote in the 2020 election. So Biden’s big challenge is that he really needs to reach people who aren’t interested in politics and aren’t likely to hear any given message he sends out.

Most of those less-engaged voters were probably not following the trial closely, or at all. It’s important for those people to hear that Trump is a convicted felon. I’m not sure they need to hear it from Biden personally — it might be a message to be pushed in paid media, by the Biden campaign or by affiliated pressure groups.

Bruni: Hmm, Josh, I don’t know. There’s disengaged and then there’s living off the grid. They really need a reminder that Trump is a felon?

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