Trump eyes dual strategy to flip script against Biden amid legal hurdles: ‘We have the messaging’

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Donald Trump, a 2024 presidential candidate, heads out on the stump Tuesday in Michigan and Wisconsin, two Midwestern battleground states he narrowly lost to President Biden four years ago, as he looks to take advantage of a weekday campaign rally ahead of his upcoming hush-money trial in a couple of weeks.

The former president’s team said Trump will take aim at what they charged was President Biden’s “Border Bloodbath” during the first stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Trump’s campaign swing is his first in two and a half weeks since he headlined a rally in Ohio on March 16 on behalf of the Republican candidate he was backing in the Buckeye State’s GOP Senate primary.

The infrequent weekday campaign rallies may become even rarer this spring and summer as Trump becomes the first current or former president in the nation’s history to go on trial.

TRUMP AIMS TO TOP BIDEN’S NEW $26 MILLION FUNDRAISING RECORD

Republican presidential candidate former President Trump gestures to the crowd at a campaign rally on March 16, 2024, in Vandalia, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

As of now, Trump’s hush-money trial is set to begin in New York City on April 15. The former president – who is being tried on 34 state felony charges – is accused of falsifying business records in relation to hush-money payments during the 2016 election he made to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about his alleged affair with the adult film actress.

Trump has repeatedly denied falsifying business records as well as the alleged sexual encounter with Daniels.

TRUMP HUSH-MONEY TRIAL SET TO START ON THIS DATE

During the Republican presidential primaries, Trump used the multiple criminal and civil cases he faces – including two for his alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and another for mishandling classified documents – to cast himself as a victim, which fired up support among GOP voters and boosted fundraising.

“HAPPY EASTER TO ALL, INCLUDING CROOKED AND CORRUPT PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES THAT ARE DOING EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO INTERFERE WITH THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 2024, AND PUT ME IN PRISON,” Trump said Sunday in a social media post.

Former President Trump attends a pretrial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City on Feb. 15, 2024. (Jefferson Siegel-Pool/Getty Images)

The former president is required to attend the court proceedings in the hush-money trial, which are scheduled for weekdays, except Wednesdays, and will ground the 74-year-old Trump in the city where he was born and raised and called home until changing his residence to Florida nearly five years ago.

Sources in the former president’s political orbit tell Fox News that a schedule’s being mapped out that includes making the most of Wednesdays, when court is not in session, as well as weekends, when Trump usually holds rallies and other campaign events.

“We have the message, the operation, and the money to propel President Trump to victory on November 5,” Trump campaign senior adviser Chris LaCivita predicted last week in a statement.

While Trump’s been mostly off the campaign trail, Biden has stopped since delivering the State of the Union address in early March in all six of the crucial battleground states where he narrowly edged Trump to win the White House in 2020. And last week Biden visited North Carolina, which Trump won by a razor-thin margin four years ago.

President Biden speaks at the Washoe Democratic Party Office in Reno, Nevada, on March 19, 2024. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The trips are aimed at pumping up the president’s anemic poll numbers and also to paint a contrast with Trump, who has been sidetracked due to numerous court appearances in New York City and Florida.

In a video posted on X last week, the president’s re-election team highlighted Biden’s busy schedule and contrasted it with Trump playing golf.

“I’ll tell you this: There’s a difference between the two candidates in this election,” Biden wrote in the social media post after Trump bragged on his Truth Social platform about winning two golf championships at a course he owns.

But Trump campaign spokesperson Karoline Leavitt predicted that the upcoming trial would give the former president a boost against his successor in the White House, and she said in a statement that “Joe Biden and the Democrats’ entire strategy to defeat President Trump is to confine him to a courtroom.”

“President Trump has been attacked by the Democrats for eight years. He has stood strong through two sham impeachments, endless lies and now multiple baseless political witch hunts,” Leavitt told Fox News Digital in February. “The Democrats want Donald Trump in a courtroom instead of on the campaign trail delivering his winning message to the American people, but nothing will stop him from doing that.”

While he’ll be sidetracked four out of five weekdays when the trial gets underway, Trump is expected to continue his practice of grabbing the cable news spotlight with his courtroom arrivals and departures. 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

And the former president has also used his social media postings on his Truth Social platform to make headlines and drive the campaign conversation.

“Trump can dominate the message environment anytime he wants,” longtime Republican strategist Dave Carney told Fox News. “We’ve never seen anything like this where one guy – whatever he says – gets full coverage. It’s a phenomenon. Whether it’s social media or cable TV or even broadcast TV, he just dominates the news.”

And Carney, a veteran of numerous presidential campaigns, forecast “there will be such coverage of his court cases that at times I would bet there will be more reporters covering his stakeout than covering the president.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.