We have the first view into Donald Trump’s Campaign for the general election, past the primary contest stage. A very revealing episode that tells us reams of insights into this ‘unconventional’ campaign and candidate. We have the first performance of the new Trump 3.0 team and its operation after Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski was ousted and the power struggle between him and Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort left Manafort alone in charge. We witnessed Trump’s play into the VP selection. It is one of the most-watched single speeches a candidate gets to make in a political race: when the candidate announces the Vice Presidential pick. It is an event every campaign has, always.
The moment the VP is announced is a rare event that is totally in control of the campaign AND its exact timing is well under the control of the campagn as well (a Convention or debate date is set in stone weeks or even months in advance). It is the first formal ‘act’ by the just-selected Presumptive Nominee for President of the USA. The choice is seen as a measure of the thinking process and ‘seriousness’ of the candidate - Sarah Palin’s selection by John McCain while initially beloved by the base, was ultimately damaging to McCain because Palin was ultimately seen as incompetent for the position of Vice President. The selection was seen as bad judgment by the man who wanted to be President. Trump has shown us how his campaign runs and what kind of performance we can expect. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, this campaign is a tragedy, inside a calamity, wrapped inside a catastrophe. It is BY FAR the worst Presidential campaign by either major party in the modern TV era. I do not mean the candidate (which may also be) or the VP, Mike Pence. I mean the CAMPAIGN. Oh, and 'long blog warning' This article runs about 12,000 words, it will take you about an hour to read but its VERY detailed and deep. We have now the first true insight into how potent is Trump's radical 2016 political campaign (or impotent being the operative word).
ONE OF ONLY FIVE EVENTS
A US Presidential nominee for either major party usually clinches the nomination by June (if lucky, earlier. Trump clinched at the end of April.) From that moment in early June, there are 5 months to election day, in early November (this year, November 8). It is the toughest, longest political race in any democracy (and by far also the costliest, and one that employs the most staff as a full-time political campaign for only 5 months). And rightly so, the choice is about who gets to be the most powerful person in the free world. Running the campaign is seen also in some ways as a ‘trial run’ or ‘audition’ for President, many from the campaign will become staff for the winning side’s administration and running a US Presidential campaign has many of the pressures and issues that the job of President will also have. Choices made in the campaign will be scrutinized and always with the lens of ‘is this a Presidential decision’.
In those five months of feverish, high-pressure campaigning, with armies of journalists recording every move, there are only 5 occasions when a candidate gets the chance to create an actual ‘bounce’ in the race - where the candidate can get a significant bump in the polling support and help that side win (pull ahead, or catch up). There are only 5 that most campaigns get. They are the choice of VP; the Convention; and the 3 Presidential debates (the Vice Presidential debates do not produce bounces for the campaign unless something goes horribly wrong to the other side). These will happen in every election (number of debates may vary). And if one side is the sitting incumbent President running for re-election, then that side already has a sitting VP, that one event is denied that side, but they will have so many advantages of incumbency, that doesn’t really matter. But yes, only five such events per campaign.
Now, in most years, there are some ‘outside’ events that happen almost always without warning, that can cause an ‘opportunity’ for a campaign to benefit. For example in 2008, the economy ‘cratered’ and suddenly the election shifted to be all about the economy. then-candidate Barack Obama was able to benefit from that. Or sometimes the other side has a major cock-up, like also in 2008 when suddenly the McCain campaign ‘suspended’ its operation (to try to get out of a debate). This gave Obama the chance to talk about being able to chew gum and walk at the same time, and McCain was mocked and ridiculed and had to end his suspension and return and debate. But these kinds of outside events are beyond the control of campaigns. What campaigns will try to do, is to create some political event to cause a bounce - like say the ‘Swift Boat’ attacks by W Bush against John Kerry in 2004. But out of dozens of such ideas tried by both sides every year, only one or two manage to cause a bump within any decade of elections.
There are ONLY 5 such events that can cause a bump in support, a bounce, that a campaign knows it will ‘get’. And of those five, three are not in their own control. The debates have to be won, for a side to get a bounce. Won clearly, not on technical points. Like Romney did in the first debate of 2012 against a rusty and over-confident (and sleepy) Obama. Furthermore, it doesn’t happen that all 3 debates produce a bounce for the same side. If one candidate is clearly the better debater, by the third debate, the voters have fully baked in the expectation that the better candidate will win again, and thus, no more bounce. The MAXIMUM number of such ‘certain’ bounce-capable events in any election year is only 4, can be 3, and if the candidate can’t win in debates (and at best hope for a tie), then its down to 2.
Trump has been consistently behind Hillary Clinton all year. The Real Clear Polling average of polls has not been in Trump’s favor for any time at all. A few individual ‘outlier’ polls have come out (mostly by right-leaning Rasmussen and Quinnipiac polling outfits which are not among the most accurate pollsters) but Hillary has held a steady solid if not always big, lead in the average of recent polls, testing the race head-to-head, Trump vs Hillary. He is behind, so say almost all published polls, consistently. So say in-state polls and the ‘electoral college’ vote count too. So say betting markets. So say almost all pundits, from left to center to right. Going into the GOP Convention, the RCP polling average says the race is about +4 points in Hillary’s favor. Trump is definitely behind. His opportunities to capitalize on these ‘only 5’ events is more precious than gold. A strong VP choice in a well-run roll-out, can create a solid bounce for Trump, to possibly erase that deficit. VP bounces have been in that kind of scale: several points.
Every single campaign goes through this process. Every single manager in charge of anything in a campaign, who has any experience from past elections, knows this and how important it is, and how rare an opportunity it is. The debates are a gamble, even a great debater like Obama can fumble that one. The Convention, its a compromise and negotiation with the party, where the candidate doesn’t get everything he or she wants while the candidate can get a lot. A lot of the Convention is team-building, the unifying of the party for the big fight ahead. But the VP selection - that is totally in the hands of the candidate. The VP choice is up to the candidate and can be used in many ways. The roll-out is a show the candidate gets to design and time and run in a place of the candidate’s preference (Romney rolled out his VP pick Paul Ryan onboard a battleship).
And I cannot stress this enough. The VP selection is seen as the first act of a potential next President. It will get totally unprecedented scrutiny to that candiate, compared to anything he or she has done before, and it is of dramatically over-sized effect to the rest of the campaign. Most years the PERSON selected as VP is the main focus of the choice, and is used to measure a potential President and his (or now also her) judgment and decision criteria. And in some years when its been a mess (Sarah Palin) then the background of HOW the decision was made, is studied. But never before has the process of picking the VP been such a wreck as Trump had this year, and the announcement event been a total disaster as it was just now. More than that, its such a badly-run ship, that various leaks are already reporting on the internal turmoil that this divide and internally feuding, partly paranoid campaign is in.
Trump did run an unconventional primary race yes. He did win with it. Some have suggested he should continue doing what worked and that Trump could win that way also in the general election. We are now witnessing how that is going, with the first test of the calibre of the race that is for the general election. It is a DIFFERENT race, run under different rules, against different - and stronger - rivals, in a different schedule. All 51 contests will be decided on one day, not spread over as individual voting clusters of a handful of states every week. But while those 51 contests are not ‘visible’ yet, at this time the Hillary campaign is heavily contesting for those, campaigning feverishly in what are called the ‘battleground states’. A handful of states will decide the election, about a dozen states. The rest do not matter. Hillary has TV ads up and is spending most of her time in Florida, Colorado, Virginia etc. Trump was spending a lot of his time in California, West Virginia, Texas and Maine (wrong states, the race is not won in any of those) and Trump has yet not aired any of his own TV ads. He is behind in the race, and he seems to not have even ‘started’ to campaign. While one and a half of the five months of the general election have now been lost. Hillary has a lead in EVERY one of the ‘traditional 9’ of the battleground states. It means if the election was held today, Hillary would beat Trump by winning more states than Obama beat Romney in 2012. Trump cannot afford to waste a rare occasion to get a bump in his support. His VP selection and its announcement.
A BAD VP CANDIDATE...
Mike Pence is a former darling of the Republican party. He was considered a solid VP choice for Romney in 2012. He is a sitting Governor, has a history of being for all the ‘right things’ for Republicans and conservatives. He is a Tea Party member so the very right wing tends to like his positions. He is also very religious and the religious voters agree with his positions. This all seems good, so far. Until we find out the reality today. Pence is a Governor of a ‘red’ state, a state that votes pretty reliably for Republicans. He was headed to a re-election this year. His OWN party in Indiana was afraid their Governor would lose. His popularity is at 40%. He was behind in polling against his Democratic challenger - a sitting Republican Governor in a red state is behind in his home-state polling. Something has gone terribly wrong for Pence.
Pence was on everybody’s early radar from 2012, for running for President in 2016. He was loved by the Tea Party and Pence was one of the early favorites of the richest donors in the Republican party (in fact, in the world) the Koch brothers. In a year that favored very conservative candidates, Pence would have seemed a strong contender. Yet even as a whopping 17 candidates threw their hats in the ring, including such hopeless attempts as Lindsay Graham, George Pataki and Rick Santorum - what about Pence? He knew he could not win even in this incredibly broad field where true miracle candidacies could catch fire (Dr Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina) or actually win (Trump). Yes. Pence was such a doomed candidate that he knew he could not run. His sponsors, the Koch brothers said, don’t even try. This tells us something about how bad a candidate Pence is - for a Republican party - in a year when the party wanted conservatives and right wing candidates, not moderates. How will this un-electable Pence do in a general election with Trump? Worse of course.
The main gripe about Pence is his anti-gay legislation. He passed what is called for propaganda reasons a ‘religious freedom’ law, which is pure legalized hate, an anti-gay law. It gave LEGAL permission for businesses in Indiana to discriminate against gays. The backlash was immediate, huge, national and devastating. It cost Indiana 60 million dollars in lost business and it destroyed Pence’s chances to ever win any election in Indiana. And as this story is told to the general American voters, they will not love Pence either.
Thats before we add things like his lifelong crusades against women. He wants abortion to be illegal even if the woman’s life is at risk (this from a ‘Christian’ man) and of course he wants a woman who is raped, to be legally forced to carry that baby to birth. Nice man eh. He has defuded Planned Parenthood, and passed all sorts of nonsense laws about women. Then he is sponsored by the tobacco lobby. He has had the nerve to claim that cigarette smoking is not deadly (yes, an alleged ‘Christian’ wants to let cigarette companies kill Americans wantonly). He is a climate change denier. He is fully for the coal industry. He’s in the pocket of the NRA (but so are essentially all Republicans). He tried to block Syrian REFUGEES from being brought into his state (he couldn’t block it, but he tried). And on and on and on.
Now, that should all ‘at least’ make him the darling of the Tea Party and religious right wing, right? Except no. He also took Obamacare (strict no-no for right wing Republicans) and with the anti-gay law, he caved, and gutted the law, taking out the anti-gay bit, thus making the law toothless and useless. The religious wing believe that Pence gave in to pressure and is not on their side. So Pence. He brings all the baggage of right wing bigotry but without any of the right wing voter support. Good call, Trump! This is definitely a ‘winner’ (in the way Trump often doesn’t know what even the simplest words mean).
As to generic characteristics as a candidate? Mike Pence had a decade in Congress where he achieved nothing in that time. He wrote no laws that passed. As Governor of Indiana he barely won his election in a year when Romney carried his state by about 10 points. He is good on conservative talking points but if he has to think on his feet, we see his mind is, well, less than the sharpest. I don’t mean he’s a Sarah Palin but he’s not even a Michelle Bachmann. Think Governor Oops. Like Texas ex-Governor Rick Perry, don’t challenge Mike Pence to spontaneously count to three, he might not make it. Yeah. Not the sharpest knife in our drawer. But if you’re Donald Trump, perhaps the one thing you least would want to draw attention to - especially in a time where Trump is under audit and is refusing to show his tax returns, with his baggage of all the fraud and cons and bankruptcies in his past - is any further attention to financial scams and fraud. Mike Pence? He stole so much out of an early run for Congress, paying his mortgage out of campaign funds (this was technically legal at the time) that the campaign finance laws were changed. Pence is such an abuser of campaign finance that yes, they had to change the laws to prevent his scam. THIS is the guy Trump picked?
I wrote about Pence briefly when he was introduced. We will have time to dig more into his full baggage later. I just want to start off, by saying, this was a bad candidate, he doesn’t help Trump but he does hurt him.
So Pence is a bad VP candidate yes. He was also selected BADLY. No not badly. I don’t mean badly. What is that other word? Disastrously. Thats it. Again, this is THE worst process ever used to get to Pence. So where do we start? Oprah. Trump had been planning his run for President for at least 15 years (he was interviewed about a run for President in Fortune magazine in year 2000). Before June of last year, Trump had floated the idea, that he’d have a fantastic Vice President who would just be amazing. And Trump floated the name of Oprah (the only name, as far as I know, that Trump had mentioned before he started his run last June). A TV celebrity couple, Oprah of course a black woman and highly popular, if she’d say yes, Trump could have added to his appeal, especially early on when he was climbing in the polls. And other TV celebrities were drawn to this, most obviously ‘Morning Joe’ Scarborough the ex Republican Congressman, now TV morning news host. Joe was so kissing up to Trump in the late months of 2015 that it really did seem like Joe was using his show to audition for the VP slot.
Well, once Trump became viable as a front-runner, Oprah was asked and she of course shot that idea down immediately. Trump’s response? He didn’t want a celebrity alongside himself anyway, he wanted someone with experience in Washington DC. And perhaps coincidentally, Morning Joe suddenly cooled on Trump too, and became then a strong critic of Trump, perhaps over-compensating for having been so positivc early on. And Trump recipricated by attacking Morning Joe often creating another long-running media feud similar to what Trump had with Megyn Kelly over at Fox.
Then we started to see candidates drop out of the race and Chris Christie jumped onto the Trump bandwagon and endorsed. It was seen as an early and obvious play to try to become Trump’s VP. Many others who dropped out of the Republican field like Gov Rick Perry, Sen Rick Santorum and Gov Mike Huckabee also endorsed Trump and were mentioned as possible VP choices. When Sarah Palin endorsed Trump, he was asked about Sarah as VP but Trump said she would have a job in his Cabinet (suggesting that she would not be considered). Newt Gingrich soon became one of Trump’s entourage and elevated to the Veepstakes and an early currently-sitting Senator endorsing Trump, Jeff Sessions of Alabama. And this then adjusted to a steady trio, Christie, Newt and Sessions, always mentioned, as other names were brought into the mix.
What did Trump need? His support among women was bad, it kept getting worse. And with Hillary as the rival on the other side of the aisle, the argument was very strong to get a female VP. Then there are the minorities. Trump support among blacks, Hispanics, Asians etc was also bad, getting worse. The VP pick could be seen as a way to get some minority support. With Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz (Hispanics) and Dr Ben Carson (black) as rivals, one obvious path would be to pick one of them as the Veep. It could help with the minority demographic but not with the women obviously. So the next stage was the female vote. Ideally a woman minority choice. And now things get bad.
Its the normal ‘play’ with VP, that any still active rival in the party (competing against you) will say ‘I will definitely not accept’ the post of VP because they are still running against you. Then of others, the normal play is ‘I am not interested’ and ‘I have a great job currently’. Not to say ‘absolutely no, under any circumstances’ but not to seem too eager for the job. Some (like Christie and Newt) would nearly beg for the job, making it very clear they would like to be picked. So lets look at the preferred choices for Trump? Nikki Haley the popular young Governor from South Carolina, an Asian-American woman? Said no. Condi Rice the former Secretary of State and a black woman? Said no. Susana Martinez, the Hispanic popular Governor of New Mexico, a Hispanic woman? Said no. These are all women who would have jumped at the chance to be VP for some other Republican whether Mitt Romney or John McCain or most in the current field this time. But not Trump.
Then other leading Republican women? Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.. said no. Senator Susan Collins of Maine.. said no. At this point Trump became so annoyed by how many women were refusing to join his ticket, he said in public that he didn’t care, Vice Presidents didn’t matter and nobody voted for the VP anyway (great endorsement and great incentive to join his ticket). The pain kept coming in. Carly Fiorina, Trump’s rival earlier in the race, was one of those who did not endorse him, and was picked by Ted Cruz in Cruz’s weird pre-announcement of his VP pick. Then Arizona ex-Gov Jan Brewer.. said no. And Trump was stuck with completely hopeless options like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. He really tried to get a woman, no viable Republican woman who could be acceptable as VP said yes to Trump. But all of them would have said yes to Marco Rubio or John Kasich, and most probably also even to Ted Cruz. Just not Trump. All were totally against joining his ticket because of the hostility Trump himself had illustrated towards women and those smart women all knew, their political lives would be ruined (and they’d also lose all respect of their female colleagues too). One person mentioned was political pundit Ann Coulter (who also seemed to be actively lobbying for some gig with Trump) and that no doubt died the moment they Googled her and found that Ann has said - seriously - that women should not be ALLOWED to vote. Yeah, that’ll help win you the female vote and shrink the gender gap.
Trump shifted gears. The race had ended, so why not a rival. John Kasich. Not a woman or minority, but he’d bring in Ohio and help tons in neighboring ‘rust belt’ states. Kasich said no. What of Marco Rubio? He seemed willing to bury the hatchet, said he won’t endorse Trump but will vote for him. That was not enough. Trump held a grudge about the small hands and said he will not consider Rubio. Trump later warmed enough to allow Marco to address the Convention. Not in person, but via video. Cruz was on Trump’s VP vetting list even as Cruz never endorsed Trump. They had a private meeting and no doubt Cruz said at the meeting - no but give me a speaking slot. The second most obvious route was blocked for Trump. There were serious loser candidates who would be more baggage than benefit (Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee etc) but the serious choices among his strong rivals said no (or Trump rejected outright in the case of Rubio who seemed to have somewhat wanted it).
Now we were at the end of May and apart from Christie, Newt and Sessions (none that are enthusiastically embraced by voters anywhere) Trump had nothing else to consider. So they widened the net. Thats when Mike Pence was brought into the calculation (he was vetted for 7 weeks according to reporting). But Pence was nothing like Trump’s top choice at this stage. Iowa Senator Joni Ernst was the new darling. She said.. no. Next Trump vetted Tennessee Senator Bob Corker. He said.. No. Trump floated the idea of a Democrat (Republicans freaked out). Trump said he is considering two Generals, both retired. Lt Gen Stanley McChrystal.. turned Trump down. But Lt Gen Michael Flynn was vetted and Trump did really like the man and wanted him. Flynn turned out to be indeed a life-long registered Democrat with all that baggage like being pro-choice etc. Trump wanted him but could not have him. The Republicans made it very clear, Flynn was off the table. So Trump was down to Christie, Newt, Sessions and.. what was the one guy from Indiana? Yeah ‘my first choice’ haha indeed. Mike Pence. The loser Hoosier.
For a fact we know that of Trump’s preferred choice, he was turned down by at least a DOZEN very qualified top-tier Republican leaders who would have instantly had the ‘gravitas’ and credibility to be his Veep. I am pretty sure no presumptive nominee of a major party has bad a dozen direct rejections from members of his own party - before we look at the others that were denied (like Lt Gen Flynn) or Trump himself rejected (like Rubio). So Mike Pence? Is AT BEST the 13th choice by Trump. Which tells us something, that Trump would feel compelled to obviously blatantly and demostrably lie on camera claiming Pence was his first choice.
Now lets dig just a bit deeper into that process. The person Trump picked to lead the vetting of his VP candidates is.. AB Culvahouse. That name probably means nothing to you but if you’re a serious political junkie, it may ring some, slightly nagging alarm bell. Yes. AB Culvahouse is the SAME attorney who vetted .. Sarah Palin for John McCain in 2008 and didn’t notice that she’s a total airhead. Oh. Yeah. Don’t exactly expect AB Culvahouse to have the mental agility to spot that Mike Pence was left off the tree of intelligence at an early branch. That bodes well. Then on the bizarre selection process itself. The final 3 were according to many reports and also confirmed by Trump himself to be Newt, Christie and Pence. The family liked Newt. The professionals with Manafort liked Pence. Trump himself had grown to like and trust Christie. And let me pause here a bit. How gullible and stupid is Trump, to think Christie, a career selfish politician, who dropped out of the race early to get the head-start to come and lobby for the VP slot, was ‘genuine’ in his ‘affection’ of Trump? Mr burger-boy? Who was used to fetch Trump’s cheeseburgers? Christie played nice guy to Trump in the empty way a politician would and Trump - who hasn’t had a genuine friend for half a century at least (even his wives are purchases, expensive imports from Eastern Europe) - fell for it and thought Christie was his friend. Sad. Pathetic. But hey, Trump wanted to be loyal to his ‘friend’.
Newt managed to get under Trump’s skin, he dropped Newt from the finals, fearing he’ll upstage Trump or contradict him. He was down to two, but Trump, Mr nice guy, didn’t bother to tell Newt he is out. And then we get the decision-disaster. Trump was in California (why? What could possibly be more important than his VP selection?). Of the two, now the family sided with Manafort and the professionals that Trump’s primary need was to unify the party and thus it had to be Pence. Trump wanted his friend Christie. But Trump’s son-in-law argued that Trump cannot pick Christie because Christie had put that man’s father in prison (when Christie was Attorney General in New Jersey). Trump ‘made up his mind’ in a ‘final’ way to go with Pence. Now, time was of the essence. Manafort knew they had to get the VP out before the Convention started, and they needed the weekend news cycle (Hillary would definitely be doing that when her turn came a week later). So Manafort pushed things along. He told Pence, before Trump had said anything. And Manafort told Pence to get on a private plane and fly to New York for the announcement.
Trump felt annoyed and pushed by this, but he told privately Pence that he is the VP and then approved the announcement event timing for 11 AM for Friday morning, at Trump Tower in Manhattan. And Trump did not call Christie or Newt to tell them, he’s not picking them. But Pence, out of his own brilliance, then went and leaked the story to his local press and it went of course like wildfire to the national press. Christie and Newt learned of Trump’s choice via the media, not directly from Trump. And Trump was now angry not just at Manafort for going behind Trump’s back to fly Pence to New York and rushing Trump, but now that Pence had leaked the news. And Trump was still having a lot of second thoughts about Pence. Thats when the horrible terrorist incident happened in France in Nice and Trump used this as the excuse to postpone his Friday introduction event. And several news sources including CNN, NBC and NY Times have confirmed that Trump was still calling people and attempting to somehow un-select Pence. Trump found out that he could not do that.
...AND ROLLED OUT EVEN WORSE
This is the first act by a potential next President of the USA. This act is studied by magnifying glass. All details about it are scrutinized. And its one of only 5 events any candidate gets in an election, to actually move the polls in their favor; far more preciously, its only one of two events where they have total control. And worst of all, these same opportunities also come to the rivals - its certain Hillary will do her VP selection and roll-out professionally to get maximum boost out of it (as well as to run her Convention professionally too, for another polling bump from that). This is no surprise. Trump has known about a VP choice for years. He has been asked about it for a year. He has had names tossed about for six months. He has been asking for candidates to become VP and get into his vetting process for four months. He has had a formal vetting process going on for two months, at least. He has been FORCED to think about this, actively, for a long time. And while his fired Campaign Manager Lewandowski was incompetent, his new Campaign Chairman Manafort clearly knows what needs to be done and has been guiding Trump on this part. This is not a sudden crisis tossed in his lap. This was an ‘easy’ part of the process. This was something that could be planned, and conducted with professionals, with plenty of time.
When Trump feuds with women and minorities so badly, he is literally the most disliked candidate for women or minorities ever measured, then its no surprise most sensible and intelligent candidates - especially any women or minorities - will say no to Trump. But his process is made far worse if he shows so little respect that he openly belittles the job and says it doesn’t matter. Who would want that (other than total losers whose political lives have ended like Christie, Newt or Pence)? When Trump openly feuds with people he had courted - most disasterously the stupid fight with Gov Susana Martinez of New Mexico - that lasted more than a week - that is just idiotic and it makes it even more difficult to attract any good candidates. All will fear they will face the same fate as Martinez.
And then consider the second week of July. Trump was forced to take not his first choice of the last two men remaining (Christie) because of what? Because his party was so fractured. And why was that? Because as I have explained before, the duty of the candidate after they clinch, is to unify the party. To reach out to rivals, to heal. Trump did the exact opposite. He prolonged old fights and re-opened closing wounds, and Trump started new fights. Trump personally made the party less unified since May than where it was. Trump had a genuine revolt brewing that tried to deny him his nomination. That was the context of the final decision time in the second week of July, when Trump was forced to make his choice. And because of the damage Trump had personally done to his candidacy earlier, he was denied the chance to pick the candidate he wanted (Christie) and rather, take the ‘lesser choice’ the loser Hoosier, Mike Pence the unpopular Governor of Indiana.
But now the mess. Trump was angry and paranoid as his campaign was conspiring with his family against him, the candidate was flown without his blessing to New York, and then the story was leaked to the press. So Trump had a fit. And he used the excuse of the terrorism in France to postpone his announcement. Well. How badly did that go. Its a catalog of errors. First off, we find out via Manafort that Trump had an ‘emotional episode’ - something you do not want a ‘Presidential’ candidate to have. This is very damaging to Trump. And we witnessed him with that, when he was on TV twice that evening telling that he has not yet made up his mind, for a ‘final final’ choice and that he still had 3 candidates left, Christie, Newt and Pence. If you subscribe to the sterotype that women are overly emotional, then Trump was now behaving like that stereotype of a woman. A potential President to come unglued because of an ‘emotional episode’ is a disqualifying personal attribute. I am certain Trump will be hit hard on this point in the coming weeks.
Then we have the spectacle of two of his finalists (but only 1 of those 3 mentioned) rushing into the media to make a last-minute attempt to get back as the front-runner. Newt came out with his idea to persecute Muslims even more than Trump had suggested before. And Lt General Flynn for his part, suddenly flip-flopped on abortion in an attempt to get back into the game. But the most ridiculous lunacy from Trump was his call for a declaration of war against ISIS and ‘extreme vetting’ of all immigrants because of the event in France. First, the event was IN FRANCE. It was horrific yes, but it killed 84 but just the previous week over 200 died in Baghdad - and that WAS ISIS. Trump was silent then. What was this event in France? As of Sunday (three days AFTER Trump demanded a war) the French police say they don’t know what was the motive but that it was a lone driver, he was not a devout Muslim, he ate pork during Ramadan, he never attended a Mosque. So what ISIS here? So Trump, going totally mental would want to launch a war ‘with boots on the ground’ to go fight against ISIS when one deranged non-religious driver kills 84 in France. Seriously? This is ‘Presidential’? When the previous week ISIS directly attacked Baghdad with bombings and killed over 200 and Trump felt no interest to even comment. Yet now he wants 30,000 troops (that is Trump’s previous count of what number of US soldiers should be sent to fight) should go fight in Syria and Iraq, because nobody attacked in the USA. And some single criminal mass-murdered people in France. Lets go launch yet another war in Iraq. Nice move, moron.
But we’re not done. Then Trump did his nightly calls to try to un-select Pence. That was out of the question. So Trump finally sent out the formal announcement that yes, Pence is his choice and a new ‘News Conference’ will be held on Saturday at 11 AM. This formal announcement came.. via a Tweet, yes on Twitter.
Now I love Twitter. And there is nothing inherently wrong with using a new communciation technology to announce your VP if you want to be geeky about it - President Obama announced his VP pick of Joe Biden using SMS text messaging in 2008, a hot technology at that time and a bold move. But Trump did it - of course - all wrong. First, he is supposedly an expert at Twitter. He did not follow Pence and didn’t have Pence following Trump back, before this announcement. Ouch. You picked the person one heartbeat away from being the most powerful person on the planet, and its someone you haven’t even bothered to ever follow before this Tweet? Seriously Trump? You have 9 million followers but you couldn’t be bothered to follow Pence when he was one of your final 3? Nice (or possibly just slightly bit narcissistic).
Trump - a ‘Twitter pro’ - didn’t include Pence’s Twitter handle!!! So when Trump announced, anyone of his 9 million followers could not go to the correct Mike Pence. Oh, this is ‘professional’ but yeah, it gets worse. Of course it does. There was NO LINK to any campaign website or ANY website. And yeah, on and on a digital nightmare. The websites did not link. There was no biography page for journalists now rushing to write the first Pence stories - THIS IS TOTALLY MAD, it means the journalists had to go find Pence’s bio details from random sources - meaning, often their FIRST impression is the NEGATIVE stories about Pence - that will also go into those vital ‘first impression’ press stories to make Pence seem less fabulous as Trump’s first choice.
Trump and the campaign was then silent for hours. One Tweet. So what was the second move in cyberspace? 25 minutes after Trump’s official Tweet announcing Pence, the second move was .. by Hillary’s nimble online team. They published their first ATTACK ad online about Pence. Yes. Before Trump has managed to send a second Tweet, or update their web pages to include mentions of Pence or links across, or post biography summaries, the competition already posted a VIDEO against their guy. Yes on Twitter, yes on YouTube and Facebook and plenty more. When you had months to prepare for this moment, you really let the opposition gain an edge only 25 MINUTES after your first move. Politico outlined the major social media mistakes in this article. How incredibly incompetent IS the Trump campaign? This is the Mickey Mouse club!
So the Pence roll-out was not exactly a cyber-success. What about the optics. Is Trump taking his VP in any way seriously? Can this man possibly help unify a party that Trump personally was ripping apart? Did he embrace his ‘final final’ choice after all? Well. At the event there is no Trump+Pence logo on the podium. It only says Trump. Note, that was after the event was DELAYED by a day. Yet they couldn’t manage to go to Kinko’s to print out a sign with both names on it? The Rolling Stones song playing before Trump spoke was ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ (how subtle is that).
The two did not appear in any dramatic ‘introduction’. The event itself is tiny - Romney introduced Paul Ryan at the Battleship USS Wisconsin (Ryan is from Wisconsin), a massive WW2 Battleship now a museum ship, anchored in Virginia - a battlegound state. They had a huge crowd. Trump couldn’t be bothered to step out of his home Trump Tower to introduce Pence. The event was in a small conference room with a slight audience - including people who were invited in literally from the street moments before the event (which partly explains why Trump’s audience reactions were so muted). Yes. Trump who genuinely can draw a crowd of 10,000 almost anywhere, didn’t even book a room for 500. And people were hustled in from the street to come attend a Trump event. Nothing dramatic or exciting or photogenic to help the ticket or to show any kind of pride Trump might have in his 13th choice for Vice President.
When Trump finally gave the podium for Pence to speak, Trump walked away and didn’t bother to stand there to support Pence. Trump’s wife didn’t bother to show up to this historic moment when her husband introduced potentially the new Vice President of the USA (and recall, its in their HOME building). After the brief speeches there were no press interviews (at an event labeled a ‘Press Conference’) and worst slap in the face. Trump left Pence to fend for himself and his family in New York who were stuck going to a local Chili’s restaurant - with no Trumps. Then the Pence family flew home to Indiana and Trump doesn’t bother to campaign with this ‘partner’ in his administration. Yeah I think the Republicans can read from those signals quite clearly, that selecting Pence signals no movement by Trump towards any of the conservative positions that Pence represent and that Trump will not ever bother to listen to Pence on anything.
A CATASTROPHIC SPEECH EVEN BY TRUMP STANDARDS
So we get to Trump’s speech. It was beyond ridiculous. So. Trump has one of his largest TV audiences of his whole political career. It is the most momentous executive decision he will make during the election season and if he were to become the 45th President of the USA, it is the first actual decision relating to that Presidency. A momentous, historical occasion. And one of only 5 chances Trump has to get a bump in his lagging poll numbers. So did he hit this out of the park? No, its pretty fair to say he did not hit the ball at all. I don’t think he even remembered to bring his baseball bat when he walked up to take the pitch.
There is a set protocol for how this pair of speeches is done. It is a set protocol for good reason, because it works. You do not want to brag about your OWN achievements. Its far more ‘humbling’ and ‘Presidential’ to have the OTHER guy praise you. And this is the INTRO of the VP to the national stage. The candidate has been campaigning for a year. This is the time to ELEVATE the game, to now rise to the rare level of ‘Presidential’. So the purpose is to be ‘incredibly impressed’ by that VP (who has been vetted for many weeks and in reality the candidate knows - or should know - fully well everything about the VP). This is where you put your own ego totally aside. You give a relatively short intro, but of highlights that really serve YOUR campaign, out of what your VP has done, and what will ENDEAR your VP to the voters. To show how brilliant YOU are out of that SELECTION. Make them really fall in love with the VP. Look at how McCain introduced Sarah Palin; how Romney introduced Paul Ryan; or how Obama introduced Joe Biden. Its not a difficult thing to understand, there is a clear formula for this and it makes YOU seem Presidential, after a year of seeing petty in the party-inside politics.
Then shut up. Let the Veep talk. And your VP candidate then heaps enormous praise about YOU the candidate. That is how you do it. The VP will be given a series of items to speak about - quite possibly the whole part about you - by your speech-writers. But written so that obvously your Veep wants to highlight parts that make you the candidate seem great - many who are watching this broadcast have not followed the campaign in the primary race and for some BOTH of you are still uknowns. So how the VP speaks about the candidate, that is VERY important. And then the VP will pivot to attack the enemy, the rival candidate (not their VP haha, the top of the ticket of course). This is the traditional role of the VP. So you, the candidate do not spend one moment talking about your rival - in THIS speech. And you do ABSOLUTELY not talk about youself at all. Everybody knows YOU. This is about ‘your’ Veep. See how bright my Veep is, this is what my brilliant administration will be like. Don’t you feel impressed?
You absolutely do not talk about youself. Why? Because your VP is there to do just that. You only show your immense admiration and respect of how incredibly talented and qualified is that candidate for VP that you just got to accept to run with you, and express how pleased and proud you are. And come on, memorize at least that VP’s name haha.
Yeah. Trump did none of that. He spoke for 28 MINUTES before he remembered to discuss Pence and his biography. In those 28 minutes Trump did his meandering stream-of-consiousness jazz odyssey of Sarah Palinesque nonsense, often on rambling sentences and of thoughts not completed, etc. So. For example. He of course attacked Hillary (for 14 minutes!!!). Then he reminded audiences again that he won his primaries (why. Why on earth. The fact he won primaries has ZERO relevance to being President, what he did BEFORE this primary season started, that would be of relevance, not that he won the primaries. We KNOW that, he wouldn’t be here now if it didn’t happen). But Trump can’t stop himself, so of course this is his vengefulness, sticking the knife in, opening old wounds - and then new wounds - now he decided its a good time to do a victory lap about the convention revolt that was brewing. WHY mention this? At this moment? At this speech? Doesn’t he get it, that this will only anger those revolutionaries to pull other futile stunts next week to mess up a ‘smoothly running’ Convention even more than they already now had planned to do. But Trump just has to brag about how he’s the alpha-dog and how he crushes his rivals (that’ll help fi rifts in the party, haha, yeah, no it won’t. It will only make those wounds deeper). And yes, Trump had the brilliant brain-fart to first sell his new hotel (in Ireland! how many New Yorkers will ever even go there) before he bothers to tell the audience in attendance about the MAN he was supposed to sell, his VP named Pence.
Then if you feel somehow compelled to talk about random other topics, in this, your biggest speech to the largest TV audience you have ever had in your life up to this point, then please do not draw attention to those few areas where your fresh new VP and you happen to DISAGREE. Yes, if you want to talk about something else for some reason (the terrorism in France, ok, that is appropriate since it was your excuse to delay the event). But gosh darn it, don’t use this occasion to mention ANY areas where you and the VP disagree. Do you want THAT to be the lead story in the press? Why oh why oh why would you mention Hillary voting about the Iraq war? Don’t you idiot know that Pence voted the same way? Why would you talk about trade wars - don’t you know Pence was a strong supporter of NAFTA? There were I think six separate areas that Trump mentioned in his meandering non-speech part, that were EXACTLY those same type of issues, where Pence DOES have an opposite view to you.
Then he did mercifully get to Pence. And again, how little was he prepared. Trump had to tilt his head down to read from his notes, as he started the actual intro and biography part, as if Trump had forgotten the name of his Vice President. But on the bio. Whoever wrote the notes to that actual intended speech before the Trumpisms that preceeded it (very likely Trump himself) was a child’s attempt. Trump had taken what is probably Pence’s PR bio and read that. Items that may perhaps impress a local and somewhat ignorant audience about Pence but items that are truly not remarkable and not worth mentioning now. And Trump was reacting to those items as if he was really reading the bio for the first time in his life, then and there, on the stage, like an MC to some conference with a slew of uknown speakers. Trump was impressed that Pence balanced the budget of Indiana each year he was Governor. That sounds impressive, Donald Moron, but many who are into politics know, and most who write this news story will at least almost instantly find out - there is a legal requirement in the State of Indiana (as most states) to balance the budget. He cannot have passed a budget that wasn’t balanced. Its NOTHING to be impressed about. Its a stupid thing to mention and it shows TRUMP’s ignorance to underline that point and be so personally impressed about this. The whole speech was like this. Again, I cannot do justice to the level of weird that it was, but Ezra Klein at Vox has a great article that is short and captures how bizarre it was.
But how much does Trump love himself? His speech to introduce Pence was measured by WaPo to spend 39% of the speech on Trump himself, and 13% on Hillary, with only 21% on Pence (rest on other topics like haha his hotel). Yes, Trump spoke almost twice as much about himself than his VP speech - in the speech that was supposed to introduce Pence. And only one FIFTH of the intro speech was devoted to talking about his ‘running mate’. Yet of that alleged ‘running mate’. Trump blatantly lied to open camera that Pence was his first choice when everybody knows and its child’s play to check, he wasn’t anywhere near even Trump’s FIFTH choice (with a little more digging less than 5 minutes, he wasn’t the TENTH choice). Why would Trump make such a blatant obvious lie, straight to camera? Because he is a serial liar who lies 78% of the time. If a truth happens to slip by Trump’s lips, its a total coincidence that occurs only 22% of the time. But this again is yet another bit of evidence that Trump’s campaign is inherently self-destructive; every thing he does is counter-productive, the only question is, how long until this latest problem exposes itself. As if Trump was sowing a minefield onto the very road he has to pass.
One more thing about that speech. Of all its faults, this is truly the biggest. Trump admitted openly and very clearly that Pence was selected to fix the broken party. Don’t ever EVER say that. It undermines EVERYTHING you just did and will do. Now everybody who ever could be considering Pence as a reason to vote for you, will dismiss it, because they know Pence was just a pawn. You don’t care one iota what Pence is or thinks or values or could possibly do. You picked Pence because you needed to fix the party (that you have been breaking). So the whole process, days of preparation, weeks of vetting, and events arranged about Pence, and his role in the next four months - all of that is thrown away. By that stupid devastating line. Yeah, I picked him so the party would not be as broken. And by every action around Pence Trump then signalled that he truly doesn’t rate Pence worth his attention. Not even to memorize his name. Yeah. I could imagine the speech-writer who wrote the actual intended speech must have been sobbing backstage, Mr Manafort, I swear I didn’t write that. He is ad-libbing again.
This speech is so epic in how bad it was, it can be given as a final exam by Political Science professors in Speech Writing 101: Introduction to Political Speeches - as the test, identify all mistakes in this speech and then just hand them the transcript. Its that thoroughly and comprehensively aweful and self-destructive. It was a ‘how-to’ on everything you should never do in a political speech.
Everything about the actual intro event signalled both verbally and visually that Trump didn’t care about Pence and that if Trump was ever elected President, Pence would be among the least relevant VPs ever elected, possibly THE least relevant. This now means, that those Republicans and conservatives who wanted to believe that Pence will balance this ticket and help bring Trump towards their views, are clearly told that it won’t happen. But note also, Trump is shooting his strongest surrogate in public view, essentially in the face by shotgun like Dick Cheney. So normally if you can’t get the candidate for President to come to your event (if you’re a local politician for example) its still a good honor to ‘at least’ get the VP candidate to come and campaign with you. What good will it be to send the man that Trump doesn’t even remember his name. Whose name was not on the sign at the podium. The man Trump cares so little for, that he didn’t even go treat for a nice dinner together on the biggest day of his life (Pence’s) that the Pence family is embarrassed to go eat at Chico’s alone. Eat up darling, daddy is going to be the Vice President...
When Romney introduced Ryan, they campaigned feverishly TOGETHER for many days, and had FOUR events together that very same day. Trump left Pence to his own devices, to fly alone back home to Indiana (not a battleground state). And yeah, to be clear, New York is not a battleground state either. And are they campaigning together Saturday, Sunday, Monday? No. Pence will speak at the Convention on Tuesday.
Wait. There is more. Then the logo. Yeah. Its rare for a graphic artist to come up with a logo that has an obvious sexual act suggested by it, but the original Trump Pence logo managed to suggest TWO sexual acts, either that Trump was penetrating Pence or else that Pence was pleasuring Trump. The logo drew immediate massive online ridicule and was taken down in less than a day. Again its total amateur hour. Then the first interview. 60 Minutes had been given the first interview of the two candidates together. In it Pence was asked about negative campaigning and he deflected in a very clumsy way away from the question but Trump jumped in and said yeah, they’ll do negative campaigning. Pence has a strong moral position and history against negative campaigning. When Trump was asked about Pence’s vote on the Iraq War, Trump said it doesn’t matter at all, because it was so long ago. Yet its one of the strongest arguments Trump has made against Hillary (the identical same vote). And on and on, a disaster again as an interview. Trump dominating it taking over and speaking 80% of the time. Pence only being diminished and looking like he’d want to be back in Indiana now where 6 out of 10 of his citizens hate him. The 60 Minutes interview ALONE is fodder for several NEW attack ads on Trump (and Pence). It was that bad.
WHAT DO WE LEARN
Boy this is revealing. About Trump. About Pence too. But most of all about the Campaign. And its all bad. All of it, is bad. Trump. What do we know. We see now, that he SEES the damage he has been doing (even though he never makes mistakes and has nothing to apologize for). Pence was selected over Trump’s preferred finalist, Christie, because Trump was told Pence will help unify the party. If Trump felt the party was unified, he’d not have taken Pence. So we do know, there is some semblance of reality lurking in the private thoughts of Trump’s evaluation of this train-wreck of a campaign. He therefore does know that he is behind. He knows he is not making progress against Hillary. It must be frustrating because he was leading so easily against the Republican field. It may explain part of Trump’s unpredictability and irritability. He knows he’s losing, he knows what he is doing isn’t working - but this being Trump, he will never admit that in public.
The we saw the instinctive Trump. He will lie even when he knows that we know he is lying. The ridiculous - and utterly useless - line that Pence was his first choice. That was not in his notes. It was part of his ad-libbing. But why would he EVER feel a need to say that? Its Trump. He needs to lie to make everything always be either the absolute best, or the total worst. Yes, of course this man whose exact name he can’t recall, and who was at best the 13th choice when everybody ahead of him refused to accept Trump’s offer, of course this would then have been Trump’s first choice all along. When Trump didn’t know who he was before June. And admitted on Thursday night on Fox TV that actually, he was still pondering 3 choices after Pence had already landed in New York.
We also saw the same in the desperate late night TV interviews, trying to backtrack out of the Pence choice. Calling in to Fox and saying no, he hasn’t made his ‘final final’ choice and he still has three candidates he is considering (Hillary rushed out an online ad already! Mocking Trump for his ‘final final’ style of decision-making). We then saw his thought-process with the emergency situation - the solo mass-murderer of likely no religious motivation in France, that prompted Trump to demand a full war on ISIS in a whole other country (and one where we already have military operations under Congressional approval). Trump’s world-destabilizing first instinct is to launch a war. This action alone should disqualify Trump from consideration for President.
We witnessed how lazy Trump is. He didn’t bother to memorize the main points of Pence’s biography (was even unsure of his name at one point). A professional speaker, serious about a really important speech, will memorize its critical parts and practise that passage at least 10 times can be 20 times to know it instinctively, to be able to ‘sell the line’ where needed. To KNOW the speech. Trump didn’t bother. He mailed this one in. He winged it. The most important speech of his Presidential run up to this point, and Turmp winged it. Thats how lazy he is. He doesn’t care.
This tells us more, that Trump is delusional. This tells us that Trump thinks he is instinctively, naturally such a strong talent he can wing this kind of event and speech. Trump has fallen into the habit of repeating himself when doing speeches. He thinks the repetition in the speech is a powerful rhetorical tool that makes him seem smart. If used once or twice in a season, it may. If used many times in each speech, it makes Trump seem particularly dense, like a Forrest Gump. But Trump isn’t learning, he is not improving. He is delusional. He thinks because his adoring fans at his rallies love him promising a wall or to waterboard terrorists, undecided voters will think Trump is a great speaker with uplifting motivational and inspirational style, and vote for him. They won’t. Only his loyal supporters like him and even those would like him more, if he structured his speeches better and delivered them more professionally. Trump has fallen into many bad habits of lazy speakers and his delusions will not let him learn to improve. Soon it will be too late.
But most of all, in Trump, we saw his vindictiveness. Pence leaked the story, yes thats pretty selfish and stupid. Where was the professional Campaign Management hiding away Pence’s mobile phones and keeping him locked and watched from ‘the call’ from Trump until 11 AM? But Trump? He then punishes this man and won’t give him any dignity and acts the full alpha-male superiority and diminishes Pence in the speech and on and on. And leaves Pence alone to dine with his family at Chico’s. What a total asshole as a person, but gosh how vindictive. Are we sure Trump’s heritage Drumpf is German? He sounds more like Sicilian haha (or Corsican).
What of his family? The kids are at the very least meddling heavily in the campaign. At worst they are constantly overruling the campaign. There is clearly tension inside the campaign. And the amateur hour is at least partly causing the problems. A professional campaign without continuous family interference would not be this chaotic and disfunctional.
Which gets us to the main findings. The campaign. This is the worst campaign in the modern TV era. Yes, its likely Trump is the worst candidate ever (we don’t yet know but signs are strong) but certainly now we know, this is the worst campaign ever run. And now we see a lot into the inside. First off, Paul Manafort Campaign Chairman is forced to do two duties. Manage the relations to Washington DC and donors (the level a Chairman is expected to work at) AND do the daily management of the campaign itself (speeches, events, political positions, media, travel etc). He is totally overwhelmed and constantly items fall through the cracks. His work is made FAR worse by the constant meddling of the kids and the recalcitrance of his candidate, Trump himself. And Manafort is constantly uncovering more time-bombs and landmines that were laid into his path in the previous 10 months before Manafort joined the team in April.
Trump is clearly paranoid and frustrated and fearful of his campaign taking control over his life and is rebelling. We see occasional moments when Trump is let loose and he goes on Twitter, or he goes off-script in a speech and all mayhem breaks out. Trump’s alpha-dog personality wants to regain control and he already now lashed out taking his frustrations on Pence. I am pretty sure at least part of that is targeted at Manafort and we may soon see Trump dropping Manafort or relegating him to a less prominent role. But its not that Manafort is evil or wrong, Manafort’s instincts are golden for Trump. What Trump needs is a really competent, top-tier Campaign Manager who has run a Presidential general election campaign before (not many of those around, and look how hard it was for Trump to get a VP, he may well have to settle for the 13th best Campaign Manager too, when he finally gets around to hiring him, when Manafort is near a heart attack from exhaustion). By the way, that professional Campaign Manager will cost an arm and a leg by now, to try to salvage this nearly-sunken ship.
But the digital team? The Trump logo. The Twitter nonsense. The online confusion. Its a total mess and either it has some family members running it or some interns, or else its severely undermanned. Compare to Hillary who has a top-notch very deep digital team who hit Pence in 25 minutes; who have already turned Trump’s ‘final final’ into another online video ad; and a team that has Hillary out-Tweeting Trump by 50% already (obviously she doesn’t send out most Tweets in her name, as now also Trump’s Twitter handle doesn’t only send Trump-authored Tweets anymore).
The events/apperances team. The Pence announcement held in New York (State)? Why on earth? New York will never vote for a Republican, its a safely ‘blue’ state voting Democratic. One of the most Democratic states there is. Why not use this rare opportunity to go to a battleground state. Pennsylvania is only two hours away by car. The events team is at least underfunded if not also undermanned. They tend to do events at Trump properties. Not many of those in Iowa or Wisconsin or New Hampshire. But those are battleground states that Trump has to campaign in, or he will never be President.
Speech-writing? The Pence speech was ok, not great. Trump’s notes to his (intended) speech were atrocious. He may have written those himself (cheapskate! Hire a team - a TEAM - of pro speech writers already. You can’t have Manafort spending his time authoring your Teleprompter speeches).
The campaign is attempting a ‘pivot’ and Manafort has been pushing it. Trump resists. When Trump is forced onto a Teleprompter speech he mostly stays on message and delivers reasonably rational speeches and arguably defensible positions. When Trump goes off script or does one of these ‘from notes’ speeches, he is a disaster. And the campaign so far has not extinguished that. As the Democrats have said, nothing is more powerful to their side, than letting Trump speak spontaneously. There are jokes now that Hillary should insist on a debate every week and let Trump get twice the time she takes. It would all just go to damage Trump further. He is a handgrenade rolling around with the pin pulled.
The next four and half months will uncover a ton of the landmines that Trump had already meticulously laid in front of his own path. We saw a few in this episode. Trump admitting he had to pick Pence even though he didn’t want to - because he had not been able to unite his party before. So, moron, why didn’t you do what your own party BEGGED for the past 3 months since you clinched in late April? Why are you still now, two DAYS before the Convention, reminding Republicans about your primary victories? Do you not get it, that it serves nothing except keeps wounds still sore? You WON the primary. Get over it, never mention it again, focus on winning the general election. Be magnanimous in your victory, heap praise on your losing rivals and try to get them to feel better. No, Trump is vindictive and bears a grudge and has to take umpteen victory laps. He literally showers more pain onto the vanquished. Those of his OWN party who will be needed to carry Trump to victory in November.
The campaign is ill-prepared. This was the LEAST stressful task they had, and they utterly fumbled it. The campaign is weak in reacting (see logo fiasco). The campaign is a one-trick pony. Trump sits in Trump Tower and telephones TV shows. Well, that is wearing thin and the advantage is no longer 50 to 1 as it was in the primaries. Hillary can play that game too, and while she isn’t a celebrity TV star, she is the Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States of America. How’s your advantage? Media Matters measured TV interview time for Trump vs Hillary in the month of June. Trump was ahead yes, but only by a factor of 2 to 1. Even worse, the only network where Trump dominated was Fox. Similarly Hillary dominated MSNBC. If we remove those networks with strong partisan audiences, the rest of the four networks (ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC) the TV time is tied. TIED. The only natural advantage that Trump’s ‘radical new’ campaign had, has now been neutralized by Hillary. On Twitter, where the popular myth suggests Trump leads, Hillary is WAY ahead of Trump.
There was doubt in the past, of was Trump going to get away with his lies or his various gaffes. No. Its only that the damage is appearing on a significant delay. Trump’s popularity keeps sinking. He has hit 0% among black voter support in two in-state polls in two major battleground states, Ohio and Pennsylvania. This is a first in any polling ever. Literally Trump currently gets zero black votes in those two states. Among Hispanics we have a brand new poll just now saying nationally Trump is at 14%. It is the lowest ever measured by any national candidate of a major party. Trump is losing WHITE college-educated voters, something Republicans have not lost ever. And with women voters, Trump has a record gender gap. The only voters that love Trump are less educated white older men. Trump’s behavior is not immune to political effects but they have a cumulative effect, over time. Like cancer. It just keeps growing. And while he has his very very loyal 33% who just absolutely love him (and slowly there is erosion out of those who joined early, who become disillusioned suddenly when they discover he is a scam, a con artist, a fraud), Trump has hit his ceiling and can’t break 40% nationally no matter what he tries. Now, Hillary is no peach. She has high negatives too, and can’t get to 50% but a 45% to 33% election is a 12 point epic landslide. Obama beat Romney by 5% and Obama’s victory over McCain was called a landslide. It was only by 7%.
Hillary can pick up some support as her campaign runs a well-produced Convention. She is getting ‘Bernistas’ to join her. She has her VP choice to use. She has the most powerful surrogate team ever to campaign for a Presidential candidate, headlined by two past and popular Presidents, Bill Clinton and Obama. Trump can’t get either of the Bush Presidents to even say they can vote for Trump or to show up at his Convention. Toss in highly popular Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to campaign for Hillary and you have perhaps the biggest ‘famous five’ of one party ever to campaign on one ticket. Trump can’t get Romney to endorse, John McCain who said he will vote for Trump will not appear with him or at the Convention, and while yes Ted Cruz will speak at the Convention, he is nearly as much disliked nationally as Trump is.
Every stupid statement ever made by Trump is recorded, on tape. In most of those, there are a slew of highly visible Republicans who condemned Trump for saying that, whatever it happened to be. We have seen that Hillary has these and is fast in producing the attack ads. Trump’s campaign? It has no idea even of what Trump himself has said, as often in Trump’s Teleprompter speeches he presents positions diametrically opposed to what Trump has said in the recent past. And Trump will not take the time to be prepped for the press and questions. We saw that in the 60 Minutes interview, where he spouts out what comes into his head. Talented well-prepped interviewers will run rings around Trump, like on the question about blaming Hillary for her vote on Iraq. If Trump now brings it up, Hillary will run the TV ad where Trump says clearly - on Pence - that the vote in Iraq is ancient history and doesn’t matter. He will look like a total fool to now ever raise that issue again (and yet, we know he will, because he has no Campaign Manager to hold him to the slightest bit of messaging discipline).
Of logic and sense? The Campaign just acquired its most valuable resource after the Candidate. Its prime surrogate speaker. The only campaign resource that cannot be replicated is the time of the Presidential candidate. But the Veep is a substitute who should be used to exhaustion for every request of the main candidate’s time that the campaign cannot spare but wants to still do that other event. The VP time has to be booked solid. What happened? Trump sent Pence to go fly back home. As I said, Romney went on the road for many days with Ryan and they did four events on the day Ryan was introduced. Trump didn’t go campaign with Pence. And if he didn’t want to, then they should be campaigning separately. But for no other events that day, and then just send Pence home to Indiana with no events? This is a clueless and gross negligence by the Trump Campaign. Watch how Hillary does it next week and learn. But the Trump campaign has only 112 days left and its squandering again days, days wasted.
SO WHAT NOW?
I wrote in March, when it was clear that this race will feature Trump against Hillary, that the race will be a 20 point landslide for Hillary by November. I made that assumption on a two-way race, now we do have Johnson and Stein as the third-party candidates to take some votes. But a 20 point victory would be 60/40. That assumed that Trump ran a smart campaign, a disciplined campaign, and pivoted clearly to a general election. It assumed the campaign was going to be sane. And that Trump did not voluntarily throw away his chances like the VP event just now.
We now know that Trump is a horrid candidate (and human being, if that wasn’t obvious before). He is also mostly out of control. We know that a professional campaign is attempting to do right somewhere in the dungeons of Trump Tower but the family is interfering constantly in the daily operations. The campaign is totally outclassed, undermanned and underfunded. It is failing on all fronts. The race that should remain close will just split apart. After the Conventions are over, Hillary will be in the first four polls out in August, at an average lead of at least 10 points and could be 12 to 15 points - on average. Thats before we get to the debates and the stretch-run of the campaign.
We know enough of the CAMPAIGN now, that we see its a fully professional operation on Hillary’s side against a total kiddie Mickey Mouse gang doing Keystone Cops on Trump’s side. He is losing every battle and the losses are truly epic, historic. He is not destroyed in polling simply because that poorly educated, severely mis-informed Fox viewer white male audience loves their guy. But his polling has peaked and will take a very slow erosion down from 33%. This campaign (and this candidate and this VP) doesn’t have the ability to recover.
So yes, the loss by Trump will be more than 20 points (in a 2-way race where total third party vote would be less than 3% combined). I don’t know yet how much, lets wait for Hillary’s VP choice and see the Conventions, and I will then make a new estimate. But to factor Johnson and Stein, most of Trump’s erosion from his base will not go to Hillary, it will go to Johnson. So one way to consider the election is where will Trump land. He will not get more than 35% in November. That is what the ‘more than 20%’ means now. Hillary may not get to 60%, she may not get even to 55%, because the third party candidates will take more votes. That doesn’t matter anymore because Trump has destroyed his chances to win in November. Even if Hillary wins by ‘only’ 15 points but Trump is at 35% - Hillary wins by a MASSIVE electoral college vote taking such red states as Texas, Mississippi, Montana, Alaska and North Dakota. Yes. I am already now saying November Texas goes to Hillary. Trump is so messed up, he won’t get more than 35% of the vote nationally. That means he loses all battleground states, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hamsphire, Nevada, New Mexico, and of course yes Pennsyvlania too. And those states that Obama lost but are now targeted by Hillary, yes, she wins them all too: North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and Arizona. The question for Trump is, will he keep Utah or might Johnson steal Utah. What about Wyoming or Alabama, if Johnson does well in the debates, he could steal 5 or more states.
Which gives the last possible view. What Trump is doing is not consistent with a Presidential campaign. It just is not consistent with a campaign. What Trump is doing, is consistent with a scam. We will know a lot more when the next campaign finance filings are due on 20 July, third day of the Convention, but yeah. I do think Trump is running a scam. He may well drop out suddenly, even as early as during the Convention, but very very likely Trump will drop out before the first debate. If Trump suddenly promises to release his taxes, and the release date is just after the first debate - then its time to go take that bet from the betting markets that Trump may drop out. It would be a VERY strong sign that is what he actually is intending to do. If you want to read more about my analysis of why is this possibly a scam, come to this blog: Trump may be running a money scam disguised as a Presidential campaign.