WASHINGTON It’s been a race like no other: held amid the coronavirus pandemic, economic turmoil, and a national reckoning on race—and after four turbulent years with Donald Trump as president.
Campaign 2020 has also featured a language all its own. Herewith is a look at the lexicon of the battle for the White House between Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, from A to Z.
A—America First. A top Trump mantra. He coined it in the 2016 campaign and still hammers away at it, in word and deed, nearly four years later.
B—Black Lives Matter. As the police killing of George Floyd sparked mass nationwide protests, Trump expressed no sympathy for the movement, instead depicting himself as a law and order president and the demonstrators as thugs and looters.
C—Coronavirus. Trump’s Achilles’ heel. For months, he promised it would just go away. Then he caught it. So did his wife and youngest son. The virus has now killed more than 225,000 people in America and new cases are surging. Biden has pledged to take scientists’ advice if he wins the White House.
D—Delaware. A small US state you never hear about except to say it is where Biden made his home and spent much of the campaign hunkered down in the basement to stay safe from the virus.
E—Electoral College. The 538-member body that decides who becomes president, no matter who wins the popular vote.
F—Fauci, Anthony. The scrappy infectious disease expert from Brooklyn who became a national hero for his no-nonsense talk about the pandemic and is now ridiculed by Trump as an “idiot.”
G—Gaffes. Biden is painfully prone to them, like saying he is running for the Senate or confusing his opponent with a previous US president by the name of “George.”
H—Hunter. Biden’s son, whose business dealings in Ukraine are a lightning rod for Trump accusations that the family is corrupt.
I—Intubation. The act of putting a seriously ill COVID patient on a respirator.
J—Joe, as in Sleepy. Trump’s way of dismissing Biden, 77, as not mentally alert. Trump is 74.
K—Kamala, as in Harris. She has made history as the first woman of color on a major US presidential ticket.
L—”Lock him up.” Trump likes to get crowds at rallies chanting this about Biden, claiming he is crooked. In 2016, Trump and his supporters yelled this about Hillary Clinton.
M—Masks. Trump often mocks people who wear them to fight COVID-19, like Biden. Masks are a fulcrum of America’s deep political divide.
N—Nomination, to the US Supreme Court. Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s base-pleasing choice, won approval a week before the election, boosting the conservative majority on the bench.
O—(Barack) Obama. Remember him? The former president is now campaigning for his former vice president.
Q—QAnon. A bizarre right-wing conspiracy theory that Trump avoids disavowing.
R—Russia. It is meddling to hurt Trump’s election rival, just as it did in 2016, US intelligence agencies say.
S—”(Will you) shut up, man.” The zinger that Biden hurled at Trump in the first, raucous presidential debate after the president would not stop interrupting him.
T—Tell all. As in insider memoirs about Trump, including one by an estranged niece who calls him a text-book narcissist and danger to the country.
U—Ukraine. The ex-Soviet republic that Trump tried to persuade to dig up dirt on Biden and help Trump win reelection. He was impeached for this but acquitted. This now seems like quaint, ancient history.
V—Vaccine. For COVID-19. Seemingly Trump’s only hope for ending the pandemic. He wanted one ready by Election Day.
W—Walter Reed. The military hospital outside Washington where Trump was treated for COVID-19.
X—(E)xperts. Trump says he has no need for them. “I have a gut, and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” he once said.
Y—Yuge. The New Yorker Trump’s way of pronouncing the word huge, which he says a lot, as in, “I’m not a huge believer in the global warming phenomenon.”
Z—Zoom. The way many politicians—but not Trump—talk to people these days, just like the rest of us.
Story by Daniel Woolls; Image by Gage Skidmore