Though bullish in public about America’s economic strength, President Trump has reportedly showed concern privately about a looming recession that could seriously dent his chance of reelection in 2020, the Washington Post reported Thursday.
According to two sources familiar with the matter who spoke to the Post, the president is “anxious and apprehensive,” and has spoken by phone with business leaders and financial executives this week to sound them out about the prospects of the US economy.
He has even reportedly even accused media and economists of skewing data to thwart his reelection, according to the report.
“He’s rattled,” a Republican close to the administration told the Post. “He thinks that all the people that do this economic forecasting are a bunch of establishment weenies — elites who don’t know anything about the real economy and they’re against Trump.”
Read more:Trump makes baseless claim that the press is trying to ‘crash the economy’
According to the Post, White House officials are “planning no new steps to attempt to stave off a recession,” and are delivering upbeat assessments of the US economy to the president, amid concerns that preparation for a crash would present a weak front and would “validate a negative narrative” about the economy.
That in turn could precipitate a crash, officials believe, the Post reported
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on the report.
The economy has clearly been on the president’s mind, with the cost of his trade war with China among the factors blamed for the slowdown.
Trump has hit back at negative forecasts and this week boasted of the health of the US economy, and in a tweet Thursday blamed the media for trying to provoke a recession and damage his chances of reelection.
In a series of tweets, he also claimed that strong trading figures at Walmart showed that the US is “doing great.”
Later, at a rally in New Hampshire, he told supporters that “you have no choice but to vote for me” because economy would go “down the tubes” if he loses to his Democratic rival.
While the White House has made no formal preparations for a recession, amid signs of a global economic slowdown, Treasury officials are keeping a close eye on bond markets for additional signs of economic strain, reported the New York Times.
Signs of economic difficulty are likely to continue to weigh on the president, who won office partly on the back of pledges to strengthen the US economy through aggressive America First trade policies.
He has pledged to win a trade war with China popular with voters in Rust Belt states that were crucial to his 2016 victory.
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However, he has also staked his reelection campaign on America’s economic strength during his presidency, putting pressure on him to strike a deal with China that would end the trade war.
Winning reelection during an economic downturn has historically proven to be a tough obstacle, with both Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George HW Bush in 1992 losing their bid for reelection after only one term amid recessions.
In fact, in the time since the US Civil War, only one president has been reelected after a recession in the final two years of his first term. That was William McKinley in 1900.