It may come as a relief to many but it seems somehow strange that we are finally within less than 100 days of Election Day. If you count early voting (the details of which are still being worked out in several states) we are even closer. Today I’m going to give the Democrats a multistep strategy for the remainder of the campaign. Step one is attack; every subsequent step is repeat step one.
I think that getting the persuadables to fall in love with Hillary Clinton is a difficult task. Clinton’s unfavorables are higher than any candidate who has ever run for the presidency prior to 2016. The saving grace is that Donald Trump’s unfavorables are even higher. In fact both are underwater in that department.
While I feel that on Election Day it is very possible that the majority of Americans may dislike Hillary Clinton it is almost guaranteed that they will hate and/or fear Donald Trump. The real challenge will be to get people to go out and vote for Hillary as opposed to sitting home or voting for a third Party candidate. The surest way to assure that people turn out and vote for Hillary is for them to fear and/or despise Trump. Interestingly it is the Democrats who have to play the fear card much like Dick Cheney in 2004; except the Democrats won’t be lying.
Trump’s record provides ample material and if he holds true to form over the next three months his performance will only add fodder. While certainly not isolated to his tax returns not being released, that is an issue that resonates with voters (look at what it did to Mitt Romney in 2012). Even more amazing is the number of unforced errors Trump personally commits. Last week alone he asked Russia to spy on us and insulted the parents of an Army officer who heroically lost his life in Iraq.
Trump plays well with his primary base because he never admits he is wrong. However that trait is a killer in the general election campaign and serves to keep negative stories alive for multiple news cycles. In fact we are now getting to the point where new gaffes resurrect old ones. Insulting the Khan family has not played well and Trump’s doubling and tripling down have resurrected the insult of John McCain and the donations to veterans scandal. Interestingly all of those were unforced errors. How many times can Trump make a mistake only to blame it on Hillary Clinton?
The beauty of this strategy is that Hillary can be selective in how often she personally participates in the attacks. She has a pack of attack dogs that are perhaps unequalled in American political history. They are led by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren. The more local or regional attack dogs are too numerous to list.
You may also add much of the media to the pack. The media is feeling somewhat guilty for the attention it gave to Trump which in part contributed to his success. If I was a candidate and ran around saying I was seven foot tall my opponents would certainly point out the inaccuracy of my statement. In my example I am either misstating or flat out lying about my height. In an attempt to appear objective and neutral, many in the media might say that perhaps I was using a measuring device that was improperly calibrated. The mainstream media often feels a responsibility to appear neutral to a fault. Outside of right wing talking heads, I don’t think Trump is going to get much of that kind of break coming down the stretch. Therefore much of the media will effectively be attack dogs from here to November. Remember, Donald Trump being caught in a lie still sells; and when he spins to deny the lie it sells even more keeping a one news cycle story alive for several.
Trump obviously believes that any publicity is good publicity. That may have worked in real estate, gambling and scam schools; politics is another thing. Ask Anthony Weiner about the effect of massive bad press.
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