The White House is not disputing a report that President Trump told aides to inflate his polling numbers to make him look more viable against top Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
Press secretary Sarah Sanders did not refute a claim that Trump told staffers to lie in a Tuesday morning gaggle with reporters.
She instead said, ‘I think the polling got it completely wrong in 2016. I don’t think it’s right now.’
A senior official with the Trump campaign told DailyMail.com that aides were not asked to lie about the survey, however.
‘We have never been asked to lie. And the poll in question shows the president beating a defined Democrat opponent,’ the high-ranking staffer said on behalf of the president’s reelection campaign after Sanders’ spoke to journalists at the White House.
A New York Times report had claimed late Monday night that Trump called aides using his personal cell phone and asked them to downplay the threat from the former vice president that his campaign’s own surveys showed.
In a 17-state poll, the Republican lagged in key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania, the report said.
When information from the survey leaked, the president instructed staffers to say he’s doing well in swing states, including the upper mid-west, which Biden and Bernie Sanders are aggressively targeting.
At the White House, the president misunderstood a question about the report. A journalist asked him as he left for Iowa whether he’d ever directed staffers to lying about polling data.
‘I never do. My poll numbers are great. By the way, we’ve gotten fantastic numbers,’ he said. ‘My poll numbers have been very, very good. We’re starting, really, next week. It’s going to be something, I think, very special. We’re starting in Orlando, Florida.’
Trump was referring to his campaign kickoff event in the Sunshine State next week. He was holding official and campaign events Tuesday in Council Bluffs and Des Moines.
‘Iowa, I think, is going to be something that we win very easily. I think we’re going to win. I saw a fake poll — a suppression poll in Pennsylvania. I even saw one in Texas. They’re suppression. They’re fake polls, just like the fake media, of which there are many here,’ the president claimed. ‘They’re fake polls. We’re going to win Texas by a lot. We’re going to win Iowa by a lot.
‘We’re going to win, I would say, every — Pennsylvania, I think we’re going to do very well. We have steel companies opening up that for 40 years they didn’t open up steel companies. Now they’re opening up. No, I think we’re doing very well,’ he stated.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale claimed in a tweet late Tuesday afternoon that the leaked data was being misinterpreted.
‘The #FakeNewsMedia wants to talk about leaked polling data that obviously someone didn’t understand. The fact is our polling shows @realDonaldTrump expanding the map with leads in New Hampshire, Nevada, New Mexico and even scoring better numbers in Oregon!’ he tweeted.
‘I’m not going to get into a lot of details, but we feel incredibly good about what the president has been able to accomplish in the first two years of his administration,’ she said.
Sanders added, ‘He’s had unprecedented success. We have a booming economy, ISIS is on the run and defeated the caliphate. We’re making better trade deals than ever made before, we’re rebuilding the military. The president’s got a great story to tell. We feel very comfortable about where we are.’
Reporters gave her three opportunities to say plainly that the reporting from the publication that Trump calls ‘fake news’ was patently false, but she sidestepped the issue every time.
‘Again, I’m not worried about polling, I’m here at the White House. I’ve gotta be a little bit careful about what I answer, but the president has an incredible record. He’s had tremendous success and we feel very comfortable about where we are as an administration,’ she said.
White House aides are prohibited legally from using their titles and government resources to campaign. But Trump officials have blurred those lines. Sanders has campaigned for Trump at rallies and she and Kellyanne Conway have taken slaps at his opponents from the driveway that leads into the west wing.
Biden and Trump are going to head-to-head in Iowa today, where they’re both campaigning.
The former vice president plans to go on an all-out assault against Trump, prepared remarks indicate.
‘I believe Trump is an existential threat to America,’ the former Obama administration official will say.
Sanders told press on the White House lawn as she took several minutes of questions after a TV hit: ‘I think Joe Biden has a lot of questions he needs to answer himself.
‘The idea that he would say that the president poses any type of threat is truly laughable, considering he was part of the administration that allowed Russia to interfere in our election,’ she said. ‘He was part of the administration that allowed Iran to continue to flourish. They gave $1.8 billion to help fund Iran and their continued bad behavior.’
‘They allowed China to continue to grow, North Korea. If anything, I think he’s got a lot of explaining to do.’