Politics

Trump Campaign Tests Out Nickname Game for 2020

NRSC, outside groups leaned into tactic to vanquish Heitkamp, Donnelly in midterms

Expect a batch of new nicknames for President Donald Trump's political opponents as the 2020 campaign heats up. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s campaign team is experimenting in its laboratory with potential nicknames for his potential opponents in the 2020 presidential election.

The president’s trademark campaign tactic from 2016 — the birth year of “Crooked” Hillary Clinton, “Little” Marco Rubio, and “Lyin’” Ted Cruz — became so ubiquitous in his speeches and campaign literature that it spawned an exhaustive Wikipedia list of everyone whose name Trump has manipulated for political gain.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden will decide whether to run by January, he has said.

That has not stopped the Trump re-election campaign from experimenting with derogatory nicknames for him, the New York Post reported.

The Trump team is leaning toward “Creepy Joe,” the Post reported, a reference to the vice president’s penchant for putting his hands on and leaning close to aides, congressional family members, and others when he talks to them.

Trump took the term out for a test run at a rally in Nevada in October, and his son, Donald Trump Jr., has posted it on social media.

Trump’s campaign isn’t the only political operation to deploy schoolyard nicknames in a contested race.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee leaned into the nickname gambit this cycle — with a degree of success — in key races like North Dakota and Indiana.

Early in the cycle, the group dubbed Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana “Mexico Joe,” contending that the first-term senator, who lost to former state lawmaker and businessman Mike Braun in last week’s midterm elections, had facilitated the outsourcing of thousands of manufacturing jobs to Mexico.

And North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who lost last week to GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer in her re-election bid, was derided as “High Five Heidi” for a celebration she shared with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on the Senate floor after they helped strike down a bill limiting abortions to certain portions of pregnancy.

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