President Trump is working hard deal with questions about his leadership with the economy as the rising prospect of a recession poses a threat to his reelection campaign.
After two years of relying on a strong economy under his watch, Trump and his top economic aides are now on the defensive because of signals of an impending recession flashed across the world this week.
Trump denies his policies have played any role in slowing the global economy in the wake of a trade war with China. During a Wednesday night rally, Trump warned that a Democratic president would bring greater turmoil.
“You have no choice but to vote for me, because your 401(k)’s down the tubes. Everything’s going to be down the tubes. So, whether you love me or hate me, you gotta vote for me,” Trump said.
And then in tweets during the week, Trump pointed the finger at both the Federal Reserve and the news media for the recent turbulence, particularly after stock markets fell sharply.
On Wednesday, Trump said “clueless” Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell had been more damaging than China by not lowering rates more aggressively. “China is not our problem,” he tweeted. “Our problem is with the Fed.”
And on Thursday, Trump took aim at the press.
“The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,” the president tweeted
Trump’s defensiveness has highlighted the political risks he faces. A recession ahead of the 2020 election could spell political doom for Trump, who has made the strength of the economy a foundation of his reelection bid. Without steady growth and job gains, Trump will lose his most appealing argument to the swing voters crucial to his bid for a second term.
“The President and the White House have every reason to be concerned, no matter who it is that ends up being the Democratic nominee, that this is something that can trip up his reelection hopes,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst for Bankrate.com.