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Trump's Truth Social posts give him a megaphone and Dems an opening

Truth Social has become an integral part of former President Trump’s ability to communicate with his supporters, giving him an advantage because of the media’s coverage of his steady drumbeat of political missives.

Trump’s posts put his rivals on their heels, as was the case during the Republican primaries, when he trounced all of his opponents. 

But there are questions about whether posts on the platform he launched command the same kind of megaphone he enjoyed on Twitter, before the social media site banned him.

And at the same time, Democrats see Trump’s off-the-cuff posts — which can be riddled with untruths and spelling mistakes — as helpful to their cause. 

“In a lot of ways, he shoots himself in the foot,” acknowledged one Republican strategist, who supports Trump. “He hasn’t learned that sometimes silence is the best response. But that’s not his style. He wants everyone to know he’s right, the media covers it and [the Trump campaign] see that as translating to votes. 

“I don’t know if it does,” the strategist added. 

Trump has a much larger audience on X, formerly known as Twitter, compared to Truth Social. He boasts 87 million followers on the former, while he has just shy of 7 million followers on Truth Social.

In November 2022, the former president said he had no interest in returning to X after it was sold to Elon Musk, who lifted the ban imposed on the former president after the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump has only posted one time on X since regaining tweeting privileges. He shared an image of his mug shot from Fulton County, Ga., with a link to his campaign website. He had already posted the mug shot on Truth Social prior to sharing it on X.

The former president has otherwise talked up the success of Truth Social, telling reporters earlier this week after a court hearing that the website was “hot as a pistol.”

But some Republican strategists say that’s not enough. 

“I think he needs to get back on X,” said Republican strategist Shermichael Singleton. “His following there is significant, and he had incredible engagement. 

“He needs to be in multiples places at the same time,” Singleton added. “You want him to maximize his reach.” 

A recent study out published in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics showed that Trump’s reach on Truth Social is not nearly as effective as it was for Trump when he used Twitter during the 2016 race. 

“He’s reaching primarily loyalists,” said Josephine Lukito, an assistant professor of journalism and media at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the co-authors of the study. 

Still, Lukito added, that Trump benefits.   

“From an attention standpoint, Trump does not need everyone to be on Truth Social,” she said. “You don’t need to be on Truth Social to get Truth Social messages from Trump, especially if news organizations are covering it.”

In coming months, Trump will also have other ways of garnering attention, particularly because of his appearances in court for his criminal trials, in addition to his campaign appearances. 

“I don’t think it matters whether it’s on Truth Social or it’s on Twitter, or whatever the platform may be,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “Trump is a master of earned media. And when it comes to Truth Social, journalists follow it and obviously his surrogates and allies spread the message to a larger platform. So, in that case it helps.”

Biden has sought to use Trump’s posts to his advantage, highlighting controversial posts in fundraisers and through his own social media to ensure it reaches a wider audience.

The president has cited Trump’s posts calling for renewed efforts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and the Biden campaign has mocked Trump’s recent post congratulating himself on winning two trophies at his Florida golf club.

“Congratulations, Donald. Quite the accomplishment,” Biden wrote on his personal account on X, after his Republican challenger boasted about winning the trophies.  

The post went viral, immediately viewed by millions of people. 

Biden’s team has most recently jumped on a Truth Social post in which Trump asked if voters were better off than they were four years ago, cutting it into a digital ad in which they highlighted the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic and Trump’s controversial statements at the time.

A source close to the Biden campaign put it this way: “Just because he’s not as prominent on social media, doesn’t mean we don’t see plenty of opportunities to highlight how dangerous he is.”

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