New Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said Friday that he expects President Trump to win all the states he captured in 2016 and possibly pick up several more, despite national polls showing the president trailing Democrat Joseph R. Biden by double digits.
“This will be a knockdown, drag-out fight to the very end,” Mr. Stepien told reporters. “We intend to protect [the] 2016 map.”
It was Mr. Stepien’s first briefing with reporters since the president tapped him last week to replace Brad Parscale, who is concentrating on the campaign’s digital operation. The change took place amid state polls in key battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin also showing the president trailing his rival.
Referring to Mr. Biden’s stay-at-home campaign strategy, Mr. Stepien said, “We feel confident in the states we need to win. If Biden loses either Wisconsin, or Michigan or Pennsylvania, it’s back in the basement.”
The Trump campaign officials believe the president still has a good chance to pick up at least four states he lost in 2016 — New Hampshire, Nevada, Minnesota and Maine. A Fox News poll on Thursday showed Mr. Biden leading the president in Minnesota by 13 percentage points.
Mr. Stepien said public polls routinely under-count Republican voters’ typical share of 33% of the electorate, and give an inaccurate picture of the state of the race. He focused his comments instead on increasing advantages in voter registration for the GOP in several key states, including North Carolina, Florida and Arizona.
For example, Mr. Stepien said Democrats in Pennsylvania have 117,000 fewer registered voters than in 2016, while Republicans have gained 8,000 voters. Mr. Trump won the state four years ago by about 44,000 votes over Hillary Clinton.
He said the trending shift in voter registration “is not something that polling is picking up.”
“Democrat voters are leaving what used to be their Democrat Party, and they are coming Donald Trump’s new Republican Party,” Mr. Stepien said.
In Florida, always a crucial and closely contested battleground, Mr. Stepien didn’t divulge the campaign’s polling but said officials are confident.
“We know what our numbers are in Florida; we like them,” he said.
Mr. Stepien said the president will continue to focus on holding “tele-rallies” with supporters instead of in-person rallies during the coronavirus pandemic.
The president on Thursday announced that he was canceling a portion of his GOP nominating convention set for Jacksonville, Florida, a state where the virus is surging.