on the cover

On The Cover: Inside Trump’s Reelection Campaign

Illustration by Tim O’Brien

On the cover of New York Magazine’s August 17-30, 2020 issue, Washington correspondent Olivia Nuzzi takes readers inside Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, which is currently facing a deficit not just bigger at this point in the race than any an incumbent has ever overcome, but bigger than any an incumbent has ever faced. Yet, at a time when the President’s prized “great economy” has tanked, likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden is polling ahead, and 160,000 Americans and counting have died of the novel coronavirus, many members of Trump’s camp still see a way forward. “I don’t think we’re gonna lose this campaign,” Bob Paduchik, Trump’s 2016 Ohio state director and a senior adviser to the 2020 campaign tells Nuzzi. “I don’t think we’re losing this campaign.”

“By the end of reporting this story, I was joking to my sources that I felt like I needed to hire a family therapist to moderate my conversations between senior officials in Donald Trump’s White House and campaign,” Nuzzi, who spoke with more than 30 sources from Trump’s 2020 and 2016 campaigns, says of the process of reporting this story. At the beginning, Nuzzi says, she wasn’t sure where to start. “In the age of the ‘plague,’ as the president grimly calls it, traditional campaign reporting is impossible, since the candidates are housebound,” she says. “But I still found a campaign trail to follow, and I learned a lot about the divide between what the Trump campaign says about their organization and what the reality of that organization looks like at the campaign’s headquarters itself, and on the ground with his supporters.”

For the cover image, New York Magazine commissioned illustrator Tim O’Brien, who is known for his portraits of notable figures and previously painted Trump for New York’s August 15, 1994 issue on how Trump clawed his way back from the abyss. O’Brien also contributed a portrait of the President’s offspring to the magazine in 2017.

On The Cover: Inside Trump’s Reelection Campaign