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President Donald Trump holds a rally at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka. Opinion columnist John Harris details the importance of out-maneuvering the Trump campaign's savvy media tactics.


President Donald Trump began his campaign in 2015 with a bang. You may recall him and his wife Melania descending from an escalator with the opulent decor of Trump Tower in the background. 

He proceeded to give a rousing populist speech highlighting his platform and  claiming that Mexican immigrants to the United States were, "bringing drugs... bringing crime. They're rapists," Trump said. "And some, I assume, are good people.” 

Every aspect of this announcement was carefully choreographed to garner Trump as much attention and solidify his base as much as possible. Trump’s team already knew his comments on immigration would cause backlash, and that was their intention.

It is undeniable that Trump and his team have one of the best grasps on garnering media attention than any other campaign, perhaps, in history. That effort did not begin in 2015. The Trump Organization has always tried to personify Donald as a business-savvy billionaire playboy for branding reasons. 

Not many high-end brand ambassadors have achieved the level of exposure as Trump. Whether you happen to catch an episode of "The Apprentice" on television, or view one of the iconic Trump Towers across the world, it is clear that Trump is one of the most recognizable media figures in the nation.

His 2020 Democratic opponent could not be more of an opposite. Former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has not made a purposeful effort to garner media attention. His exhaustive list of gaffes and controversial statements make a troubling point. 

If Biden wants to win the presidency in November, he must make a considerable effort to divert attention away from Trump. 

A major difference between Biden and Trump comes in the way that they receive negative media attention. In the case of Trump, it appears that his comments are thought-out and purposefully made in order to rile up his Republican base. 

Biden’s gaffes are often off-the-cuff and are abrasive to his own base. For example, Biden said, “If you have a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, you ain’t Black,” during his conversation with Charlamagne tha God on the Breakfast Club radio show. This statement from Biden may not be made with bad intentions, but it portrays him as believing he is the gatekeeper of race.

Another failing of the Biden campaign is that he has failed to demonstrate his uniqueness from not only his primary challengers, but also Trump. He has not been able to describe to the voter what makes him a more effective candidate to take on Trump, than a similarly moderate candidate like Pete Buttigeg. His only achievement worthy of praise is serving as a vice president to former President Barack Obama. 

Trump, on the other hand, has used snappy nicknames to describe his opponents, such as Sleepy Joe and Crooked Hillary.” Despite being childish name calling at best, this is an effective media strategy. It simplifies politics into short catchphrases that anyone can understand and repeat.

Trump is one of the most unconventional candidates that has ever won the highest elected office in America. Biden’s campaign needs to reflect this by using unconventional tactics of their own to weaken Trump’s grasp on the media.

The president continues to have a considerable talent of being able to spin and promote even the most authoritarian actions. Biden’s campaign needs to determine what is necessary to overcome this media powerhouse.

Despite all the focus placed on who is best at controlling the media, I encourage you to vote based on policy. Do your own research to determine who will be doing the best for the nation as a whole. It is important that we make our own electoral decisions independently from partisan media influence. 

John Harris is a sophomore from Shawnee studying political science.