What a week it has been. Not only has PPFA had its first four-post week since before the hiatus, but it’s hard not to get the impression that this was the week Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination and general election all at once.
After Clinton started the week by securing the requisite number of delegates to win the nomination at the Democratic National Convention’s first ballot, it seemed like momentum swung dramatically toward her. The party completed its consolidation — though it was already pretty consolidated — culminating yesterday in her two biggest endorsements yet. President Obama detailed his excitement at helping her get elected, as did Massachusetts Senator and liberal darling Elizabeth Warren (or, as Donald Trump calls her, Pocahontas). It seems even Bernie Sanders himself has started to pivot toward party unity. We’re starting to get the impression that the Clinton Campaign will have a surrogacy dream team this summer and fall: President Obama (fresh off a +10 approval rating from Gallup) and Vice-President Biden will rally the party; their wives will reach out to women; Warren and Sanders will tighten up the left flank; and former President Bill Clinton will appeal to the moderate left.
Meanwhile, the entire Trump Campaign seems to be one guy tweeting.
Donald Trump’s comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel have left many Republicans unsure of what to do. It’s quite the contrast: as one party rallies, the other hesitates. High profile Republicans are pulling their support for him, openly searching for ways to deny him the nomination, or, at the very least, stopping short of full-throated endorsements. At times it seems as if Trump stands alone against the world. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for him, especially if you allow for the possibility that he is not well-spoken and his words were misconstrued.
All that being said, even though the Clinton Campaign is heating up, I think now is a good time to throw some cold water on this narrative. First, let’s remember that Trump withstood many-a-negative news cycle during the primary. At times, it did seem like it was him against every prominent Republican in America. They desperately tried to block him from the nomination. (Remember when “1,238” was a big deal?), but what ultimately happened? He blew out the field (and arrived at nearly 1,550 delegates). He was either very lucky, or he knew what he was doing.
How might this ostensibly disastrous stretch be another example of him knowing what he’s doing? This piece from Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics points out that while we talk about Trump’s supposed racism, we’re not talking about Trump University fraud or Clinton’s well-received foreign policy speech. Those are two areas where Trump could have suffered more consequential blows than yet another cycle of how he seems to be racist. Trump seems to have a knack for getting people to change the subject when necessary, and it’s usually on purpose.
Further, it remains to be seen if the average voter (read: NOT the liberal voter, mainstream media, or establishment politicians) sees his comments in the way the media wants to frame it. YouGov found that only half of all voters perceived his comments as racist, and two-thirds of Republican voters thought the comments were not racist. Do media and establishment leaders really seem evenly divided on the issue like the American people are? I think not.
In other words, I am not convinced we’ve seen the end of “Teflon Don.” It looks bad now, but Clinton’s official triumph now puts Trump in perfect position for a “campaign reset.” He’s avoided the talk shows for an unusually long stretch. He can come out of this crouch a more disciplined candidate who stays on message. The message? The Clintons are corrupt and four more years of Obama is a scary prospect. That message can put the Republican Party back together again, and Trump won’t have to go it alone anymore.
Before I pack it up for the weekend, I wanted to alert you to a new book. Are you looking for portable primary source material on the presidential candidates? Of course you are! I recommend The Horse’s Mouth: Speeches by the Candidates, hot off the presses and available via Amazon and Kindle. The book organizes 18 pivotal speeches by five candidates for president — Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Gary Johnson, and Jill Stein — and conveniently places them into a handy hard copy to peruse, reference, and annotate.
It’s edited by Glenn Alan Cheney, who has authored and edited dozens of books. The kicker, for loyal PPFA readers — the Foreword is written by yours truly: the author of Presidential Politics for America!