In his pitch to black voters, Donald Trump condemns the legacy of failed Democratic policies and sells himself by saying something like, “What do you have to lose?”
From New York Post
Today, I ask him the same question. What do you have to lose by trying something different at Wednesday’s debate?
Something really different. I mean humility, as in making a heart-to-heart plea for Americans to trust you with their sacred vote and pledging never to violate that trust or embarrass them.
A Hail Mary pass is necessary because Trump has failed to quell doubts about his fitness, and the game could soon be out of reach. With most polls showing Hillary Clinton building a comfortable lead, Trump’s current course means he’ll need a visitor’s pass to get into the White House.
Some polls could be wrong, but not all of them. A realistic way to look at them is that Clinton’s average margin of seven points, as calculated by RealClearPolitics, means she has a lead of perhaps 10 million voters.
That’s a lot of people, and Clinton is so confident she’s the front-runner that she dropped out of sight for most of the last week. It’s a defensive strategy designed to avoid mistakes.
Having surely played a role in the emergence of women claiming Trump had groped or kissed them against their will, Clinton took a break knowing her media handmaidens would fan the flames for her. Even gaffe-prone Bubba has been lying low, hoping that being out of sight would keep his predator past out of mind.
The Clintons’ disappearing act coincided with a stepped-up speaking schedule for the best surrogates they have, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
The dynamics, then, show Democrats getting ready to close the deal. Think of it like a good football team playing the Jets. The game is close for a while, but the better team slowly piles up the advantage until the result is lopsided and there’s not enough time to overcome it. Occasionally, the Jets win, but it’s always a surprise.
That’s where the race stands now. Clinton’s got a sophisticated operation for turning out the vote in the swing states, and the gears are shifting. There is even talk of a wave election that would give her victory and produce a Democratic Congress.
The third debate is shaping up as a make-or-break night for Trump. With an audience of 50 million or more, a winning performance would keep him in the game, while a bad performance would give him a head start on his vacation.
Here’s why humility must be central to his game plan.
First, it would be a surprise. Ready to rumble at the drop of an insult, Trump could benefit from a change of tone. I’m not suggesting a half-hearted apology of the sort he gave after his crude comments on a tape surfaced. Once was enough.
Nor should he fail to remind voters about the WikiLeaks e-mails and the latest infuriating evidence of Clinton crimes ignored by the FBI. He will and must highlight both, with specifics, but bashing Clinton harder and harder probably won’t make much difference.
Voters already know she’s corrupt and dishonest, yet polls show that many who don’t like or trust her are nonetheless willing to vote for her.
My belief is that many of them, including some who remain undecided or say they will vote for a minor-party candidate, have been waiting for Trump to win them over by acting more consistently presidential, but are losing confidence that he can be anything other than a brawler and insult machine. Trump’s challenge is earn a second look from them.
Those voters, the so-called persuadables who make up perhaps 10 percent of the electorate, must be the target of his plea. He must show them that he understands their doubts and is ready for the awesome responsibility that comes with the Oval Office. He needs to win their confidence before he can win their votes.
Call it a test of character or temperament or fitness. I call it heart, and Trump must finally reveal his.
His running mate, Mike Pence, often says, “Donald has a good heart.” His wife and children and surrogates like Rudy Giuliani and Dr. Ben Carson attest to his character and strength of purpose.
Perhaps they are right, but not enough people believe it yet. Only Trump can persuade the doubters, and Wednesday will be his last, best chance to show America he’s up to the job.
Besides, what does he have to lose?
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