It seems these days that you wake up turn on the television, flip through the channels, land on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, or another media outlet, and inevitably there’s a story about the Donald Trump campaign. Whether it has to do with incendiary remarks a la referring to a Hispanic judge as a Mexican that can’t be trusted to be fair or insinuating that gun owners could be the force that stops Secretary Clinton from becoming President of the United States, there’s always a controversy du jour that makes Trump supporters from Seattle to St. Louis, cringe.
Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager, was replaced by Paul Manafort, a former campaign operative for Gerald Ford, the guy that managed to wrest the nomination away from Ronald Reagan. Manafort, while squashing conservative dissenters including the NeverTrump crowd at the RNC, was brought on board to moderate Trump’s message and style, to pull in establishment support, to smooth over relations between Trump and the RNC (namely Chairman Priebus), and consolidate the Republican Party. However, teleprompter speeches have never really been Mr. Trump’s forte.
So now, with just under 90 days remaining in this presidential election, and with Trump trailing by as much as 13 points in a Monmouth poll a couple of weeks ago, it appears that Trump has decided it’s time to go back to the brash, no holds barred, off the cuff style that won him the nomination against a field of 16 other competitors. Here’s the question – will it work? Well, that all depends on what you as a voter believe to be Trump’s greatest challenge: did his brash style work well for him, given that he dispatched probably the largest field of competitors in Republican Party presidential campaign history, OR, does he need to tone it down for the general election? Given the gender card that Secretary Clinton will undoubtedly deploy with as much repetition as is required to paint Trump as a misogynistic pig, there is a severe risk involved with going further into the gutter. It’s one thing to toss red meat to the right-wing base of the party you’re running to represent on the ticket in November; it’s quite another to have to appeal to blue dog Democrats, independent voters while holding on to the people that belong to your party.
Now, I get it – the Trump supporters have repeatedly harped on the fact that he received more votes than ANY other Republican candidate to secure the nomination, which in their eyes proves that his style and method works. But, here’s the counterpoint to that argument – how many of those people that voted for Trump, voted in open primaries where Democrats are allowed to pull Republican ballots to vote for him? Or, how many people switched registration to vote for him, in closed primaries?
A moment for anecdotal evidence, if I may: upon Trump’s clinching the nomination as the “presumptive nominee” when Cruz formally suspended his campaign, I went to the local Supervisor of Elections office, and formally switched my registration information from Republican, to NPA (No Party Affiliation), because I couldn’t stomach being a member of a party with Donald Trump as it’s standard bearer. A friend of mine, who was an independent, opted to register as a Republican so he could vote for a friend of his, who’s running for a county commissioner seat this year. So, how many lifelong Republicans have left the party, because of Trump, as opposed to the number of people that voted for Trump and very possibly voted Democrat in the past?
And then there’s this piece I was reading about today, which I found to be another potential indictment against Trump’s genuine standing as the Republican nominee for president – does anyone remember how Trump lambasted Senator Cruz’s wife for being on Goldman Sachs’ payroll? He used that against Cruz because he chose to use the American peoples’ disdain for Wall St. against him, yet we come to find out that Stephen Bannon, Trump’s new campaign CEO, is an ex-Goldman Sachs banker! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people working for a successful firm like Goldman Sachs, and if they are successful they ought to be rewarded for that success; but it comes across as a hypocritical move to put such an individual in charge of your campaign operations.
Time will tell if hiring Mr. Bannon to head up Trump’s campaign operations was the right move. It may turn out to have been a brilliant move, and one that propels Mr. Trump into the lead in the polls, and into the White House on November 8th. Or, it could spell the end of the road for the real estate mogul, who in his words, is all about winning, and winning big.