Trump struggles to regain his MAGA mojo amid anemic polls and NFT digital cards debacle
Donald Trump is fending off new questions about his political potency after a miserable week of poor polling and his controversial release of digital trading cards.
The former president finds himself heading into the end-of-the-year holidays on a low note as his 2024 comeback presidential campaign shows few signs of gaining traction and he seems to have lost at least some of his once-vaunted political touch.
He’s also facing the possibility on Monday the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by Trump loyalists will recommend criminal charges against him for inciting the riot.
Trump, who announced the launch of his campaign last month, had already failed to respond forcefully to widespread criticism of his role in the underwhelming Republican performance in the midterm elections.
He was hit last week by a one-two punch of poor poll results.
Both surveys say Trump has fallen far behind Republican rival Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the battle for Republican primary voters in the race that will likely take off later next year. One showed him losing badly to President Joe Biden in a hypothetical rematch.
But the worst blow of the week was a surprise self-inflicted one.
Trump on Wednesday told supporters to expect a “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!” the next day. “American needs a superhero!” he added.
Speculation ran wild that he might be planning to announce a big move to jump-start his sputtering White House campaign or perhaps even an attention-grabbing run for speaker of the House in the new Congress.
Instead, Trump announced the release of a set of $99-a-pop digital trading cards showing cartoon images of himself in various heroic poses.
The Trump cards are known as nonfungible tokens, or NFT’s, which are stored on internet platforms and have unique identifiers that supposedly prevent them from being copied, forged or stolen.
The head fake drew instant mockery from Democrats and liberals, who called them “cringe-worthy” and worse.
President Biden, usually not known as an effective social media troll, boasted that he had some year-end “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS” of his own, including lowering gas prices, keeping the economy growing and enacting protection for same-sex marriages.
Perhaps more worrisome for Trump was the dismayed reaction from his own usually loyal MAGA supporters. They too were clearly expecting the kind of political bombshell that has become a defining part of Trump’s playbook.
“Whoever advised him on that, I’d fire them immediately,” Michael Flynn, the one-time national security adviser said on a right-wing video show.
Right-wing flame thrower Steve Bannon also derided the launch, suggesting that it would undermine the MAGA message that Americans are under existential attack by Biden’s policy.
“I love the folks down there (at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort), but we’re at war,” Bannon said on his podcast. “They oughta be fired.”
Others questioned Trump’s embrace of NFT’s even as enthusiasm for crypto assets has significantly cooled especially following the collapse of FTX.com.
The financial questions about the NFT’s eased a bit on Friday when reports claimed the initial 45,000 cards quickly sold out and prices were rising fast on secondary markets.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., suggested that Trump’s sagging public image reflect a belated recognition he is a better huckster than political leader.
“The American people have gotten wise to him,” the powerful Senate majority leader told CNN. “It took a while. But they are onto him.”