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Here's proof Donald Trump knows he's losing

CNN logo CNN 6/18/2020 Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie © Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Thursday, President Donald Trump's campaign began a push for more than the traditional three general election debates with former Vice President Joe Biden.

The effort, which is being led by none other than former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, amounts to the most clear evidence yet that -- despite all of his public bluster -- the President knows he is losing right now.

Remember that as recently as last December, Trump was contemplating sitting out the general election debate season entirely.

Biden's campaign isn't biting.

"We are not going to ride the roller coaster of the ever-changing Trump campaign position on debates, nor are we going to be distracted by his demands," his deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield, said in a statement.

So how did we get from there to here? Simple. Trump's political fortunes have declined significantly in recent months, with his uneven handling of the protests that arose in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd last month tanking his poll numbers.

Trump's approval rating in Gallup data took a double-digit hit in recent weeks and a slew of swing state and national polling shows him trailing Biden by significant margins.

It's absolutely no coincidence that faced with those numbers, the Trump campaign has reversed its position on debates.

Conventional political wisdom dictates that the candidate pushing for more debates is the candidate who is trailing. That person needs debates to create a moment (or moments) that can change the momentum and trajectory of the contest.

That person isn't usually the incumbent. Typically challengers push for more debates because they need a forum to land the one big punch that can change things.

And so, it's very telling that Trump now finds himself needing more than the standard three debates. It means that the President doesn't think he's winning right now -- and doesn't necessarily see a way to get to victory without more debates.

The Point: Ignore what Trump says and tweets about how great a shape his re-election bid is in. This push for more debates says more than a thousand of those tweets.

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