Steve's Blog

Is The Trump Campaign Getting Back on Track?

The election is still nearly two and a half months down the road, but according to many in the mainstream press, the election is over, and Donald Trump has lost. Hillary might as well start measuring the drapes in the White House, and figure out how she’s going to keep her husband, our nation’s first “First Guy”, under control and away from the interns.

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And of course there’s some evidence that the press may just be right about this. After all, Trump’s losing to Hillary in most polling by anywhere from a few points to double digits. Particularly disconcerting is the lead Hillary has built up in such battleground states as Virginia, Colorado, and Florida.

In my view, the way she’s been able to do this is to spend millions and millions of dollars on TV ads attacking Donald Trump in those states, with virtually no response from the Trump campaign. Up to this point, Trump has believed he can offset this barrage of attack ads by dominating news coverage and the talk show circuit. The problem with that strategy, is that he gets the third-degree by, say George Stephanopoulos, and it’s his one slip-up, like how his sacrifices stack up to the Khans’ loss of a son, that gets all the coverage. As I’ve been saying for months now, Trump needs to be up on the air in all the battleground states.

Fortunately, I think there’s evidence that the Trump campaign may just be turning things around. First of all, bringing in Kellyanne Conway as campaign manager, was a great move. I’ve known Kellyanne since I was first elected to Congress 20 years ago, and she’s great. And most encouraging, Trump seems to be listening to her.

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A few examples. Trump recently expressed regret (apologized) to the various groups he may have offended thus far in the campaign.

“Sometimes, in the heat of debate and speaking on a multitude of issues, you don’t choose the right words, or you say the wrong thing. I have done that. And believe it or not, I regret it. And I do regret it, particularly where it may have caused personal pain. Too much is at stake for us to be consumed with these issues.”

Now this apology doesn’t mean his numbers are going to soar among Hispanics, or African Americans, or disabled people, or with Rosie O’Donnell, or Megyn Kelly. It may improve his chances with these folks somewhat (except with Rosie O’Donnell), but it also hopefully helps his appeal with a broader electorate, who generally rejects intolerance and insensitivity in a candidate.

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Trump also seems to be sticking to a more disciplined format in his speeches, even utilizing the hated teleprompter to accomplish this. His shoot-from-the-hip, take-no-prisoners style, which was so effective in front of a Trump-rally in a stadium, also got him into trouble over and over again. At this point, sticking to a message, and exploiting Hillary Clinton’s weaknesses, is the only way to win this thing. Picking fights with reporters and gold star parents only steps all over his message. He’s running against Hillary, and to some extent Barack Obama, and that’s where his attention needs to stay focused.

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And Hillary continues to provide a target-rich environment on which to focus the Trump campaign’s attention. For example, it’s getting clearer and clearer why Hillary Clinton fought so hard to keep her emails from becoming public. Just this week we learned that the Crown Prince of Bahrain was given a meeting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, only after a donation of $32 million was made to the Clinton Foundation. Before that donation was made, Hillary refused to meet with the Crown Prince. Interestingly, after making the donation, the Crown Prince was referred to as “a good friend of ours” which is the same way members of the mafia introduce a fellow member of the mafia to each other. No wonder many have compared the Clinton Foundation to a sophisticated criminal enterprise.

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Because this all looks so bad, the Clintons announced a few days ago that if Hillary becomes president, their foundation will stop accepting corporate and foreign donations. Big deal! They’ve already raked in hundreds of millions of dollars. And think about it. What they’re really telling people who want to buy influence with a prospective Clinton Administration is, give big bucks between now and Inauguration Day in January, and we’ll take care of you when I’m president. If they were serious about being above board, they’d stop this corrupt practice immediately, or even better, would never have started it in the first place.

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Okay, back to evidence that Trump may be attempting to get his campaign back on track. Whereas Republicans haven’t done well among African American voters for half a century, and among Hispanics for several decades, Trump, rather than ignoring these two groups, or in some cases, actually insulting them, is attempting, finally, to reach out. Trump in appealing to African American voters has been making the case recently that they’re doing terrible under a Democratic Administration and in Democrat run cities, and that he’s the one who can improve their access to jobs, and make sure now-crime-infested neighborhoods are safe. And things are now so bad under the Democrats that “what do you have to lose?” He has a point.

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And in reaching out to Hispanic voters, Trump seems to be re-thinking his to-date hardline policies on immigration. He now seems open to considering a “humane and efficient” way to deal with those who are in this country illegally. Of course he needs to be careful that in attempting to appeal to Hispanic voters on immigration, he doesn’t alienate an equal or greater number of his existing tough-on-illegal-immigration supporters.

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So will these moves work for Trump? Maybe. Maybe not. But either way, it’s far too early to declare that Hillary’s going to win, and Trump’s out of it. If he can stay disciplined and stick with a consistent message, be critical of Hillary Clinton and no one else, get good ads up on TV in all the key battleground states, and prepare for the upcoming debates, he can still win this thing.

At least that’s the way I see it.

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