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June 23, 2016

Time to Buckle Down

Patricia A. Kelly

It looks like the presidential candidates are buckling down for the general election, and making some changes. Tuesday I heard Hillary Clinton making a measured, anti-Donald Trump speech, without a single shriek. I hear she’s hired a speech coach.


That’s a brilliant idea and will make a real difference. Her smile Tuesday looked warm and kind, and she looked sensible and in control. Good moves all.


On the other side, Donald Trump has fired his long-time campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, in favor or more experienced – and insider knowledgeable – Paul Manafort, a man he brought in months ago to help bring order to his campaign and unity to the party. Of course, he then completely failed to listen to Manafort’s advice and stuck with Corey.


Now, the moment of reckoning has come. Suddenly, Mr. Trump is slipping at the polls, after two major gaffes. The first was the assertion that the judge in his Trump University lawsuit can’t be objective because he’s of Mexican heritage. The second, his assertion to the Republican Party that he can go it alone, without their support, and that they need to just be quiet.


Mr. Trump finds himself at the beginning of a campaign, sorely lacking in infrastructure, that even he can’t afford to pay for. In spite of his assertions, he does need the Republican Party, and he does need financial support. People, even his strong supporters, are beginning to decry some of his off-the-cuff comments. This could be a danger to his long term success.


It should be very interesting to see what happens as the campaigns proceed.


Both Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton still need the official seal of approval at their party’s conventions. Bernie Sanders seems to be holding out to make platform changes at the convention. On the Republican side, the Never Trump movement is gaining support as it works to find a way to eliminate him at the convention. Both Mr. Trump and Ms. Clinton will, in all likelihood, come out of their conventions with official nominations.


Next, they fight it out.


Ms. Clinton is vulnerable on many points – her emails, her record as secretary of state under Barack Obama, her lies about Benghazi, her function in the Clinton Foundation, and the failures of her nation-building ideology, to name a few. People don’t really trust her, and more than 55% disapprove of her.


Mr. Trump is vulnerable, too. His business history leaves him open to many questions, his bankruptcies are only one of them. His statements throughout the campaign, that he would order the killing of terrorists’ family members, that he would renege or negotiate down the national debt, that he is his own best foreign policy advisor, not to mention his name calling and inappropriate, often vulgar, comments about people who annoy him.


They both need change. Hillary needs to become likeable and trustworthy, not to mention discontinue screeching when she attempts to display emotion. Mr. Trump needs to show self-control, make clear statements, guided more by his teleprompter than by his impulsivity.


They both need to change their disapproval ratings, he’s at 70%, and she’s at 55%. They both need to make clear, fact-based assaults on the other, and come up with clear defenses for themselves.


They both have a big hill to climb.


Too bad there’s not another choice.


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