An analysis of where things stand in the presidential arena for 2016
Texas Gov. Rick Perry used the term ‘Trumpism’ to define the lack of conservative creds in his GOP opponent Donald Trump. Media, meanwhile, are having an emotional orgy over Trump’s snarks towards Sen. John McCain. The same media rolled over and played possum after Hollywood activist George Takei called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “a blackface clown.”
On Twitter and other social media, Republicans and leaners debate Trump’s sincerity, his past contributions to Democrats, and the fact he attended the Clintons’ daughter’s wedding. GOP contenders and media can’t seem to get enough of Trump. Meanwhile, savvy media-master that he is, Trump continues to dominate the discussion and rise in the polls.
THE TRUMP PHENOMENON
The latest poll conducted by ABC News/WaPo shows Trump at 24 percent with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 13 percent. Included in other spots in the top tier are Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Gov. Jeb Bush (Fla.), and Dr. Ben Carson. Among those at the bottom is the talented but less known Carly Fiorina.
Why aren’t the other top-runners in the GOP field overcoming the Trump phenomenon? Even remarkably gifted candidates like Rubio [@marcorubio] aren’t getting a lot of attention on Main Street as Trump dominates every news cycle.
Part of the reason has to do with media savvy. Rightly perceiving Americans’ frustration with the federal government’s border and visa policy trickling straight from the Oval Office, Trump did something not a single other candidate has done. He called attention to crime the government appears to be deliberately importing and/or tolerating.
Current policies, by the way, don’t just endanger Americans who are native-born. Crime impacts immigrants, guest workers, and anyone else in the country. Why, with levels of violence we see in cities like Chicago and Baltimore coupled with an obvious national security vulnerability, we would import and harbor more crime makes no sense.
Trump has also focused on veterans, an issue that perpetually resonates with opponents of policy set by the current regime. He doesn’t hesitate to bash the media the majority of Americans neither like nor trust. He is brash, not cautious, and remarkably unscripted. Above all, Trump isn’t talking to pundits and politicos. Watch him. Trump talks directly to us regardless of the media venue.
Compare his style and substance to other top tier candidates. At present Walker [@ScottWalker] is in second place and he has something Trump also has—outsider status. Walker has never been the darling of the GOP country club set. For that matter, nor has Rubio since his Senate run. I know for a fact GOP power brokers weren’t happy Rubio chose to jump into the presidential competition. His vacant Senate seat will be a challenge for the GOP.
Here’s one example of a missed opportunity. In an excellent interview Jake Tapper did with Rubio, Tapper asked him about Sen. McCain’s criticism of Rubio over the Gang of Eight immigration bill. McCain, said Tapper, said “some not very nice words” about Rubio in a New Yorker interview. McCain implied Rubio was wishy-washy and backed away from the deal.
Rubio was gracious—“That was just John McCain being John McCain.” Why, Senator Rubio, are you being gracious to a politician who is a war hero no doubt but who has also routinely insulted the people who consistently vote Republican? FYI, GOP, McCain the politico is not popular with the base.
“That bill had no chance to pass in the House. I repeatedly warned the people working with me—you can see the record—I told them if this bill is not stronger on the enforcement front, it will go nowhere. That’s exactly how it played out. And as a result, we’ve made no progress on immigration reform.”
Rubio said he wanted the “enforcement aspects clearer and stronger” but they weren’t. Rubio then said first we have to secure our borders, prevent visa overstays, and have an e-verify system.
If I could face Rubio right now, I’d say, damn, Senator, you should have been front and center with that message as soon as that bill fell. That matter is key to voters’ trust because we have been deceived by Gang-of-Eighters like Chuck Schumer, the New York senator who so easily abandoned what he promised after helping bring the 1986 Immigration and Control Act into being. That act, coupled with previous acts stressing extended family ties way beyond parents and children, helped lead directly to the explosion in undocumented residents this country is dealing with at a time when jobs are very hard to come by for many in the unskilled labor sector. Many teens can’t subsidize their college education as I did because they can’t find a part-time job.
WHAT MATTERS OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY?
Republican leaders may not care, but many traditional GOP voters are very frustrated with the party.
From sanctuary cities to an alphabet soup of secretive trade deals Republicans helped the president close, everyday Americans feel the crunch of big government. Obamacare taxes (direct and indirect), regulatory fees (on utility, Internet provider, and other bills), the rising cost of food and other staples, the ridiculous increases in fees attached to hard-to-get (for average earners) mortgages, and matters like the Environmental Protection Agency treating a ditch on your property as a navigable waterway. Toss in the egregious invasion of property—your wealth is your property, right?—the deceptively labeled Consumer Financial Protection Bureau represents, and you have just a few matters everyday Americans should, in their best interests, be told about. While you’re at it, remind voters Democrats have repeatedly turned this federal bureaucracy against the people, from false-pretense raids on guitar companies to seizing small merchants’ bank accounts.
Tell people next time they get paid, look at the check stub. Add up what the federal government takes from you, and then tell them how that same government misspent more than $100 billion dollars in a single year with Democrats at the helm. Remind voters that is their money being tossed into a dark federal drain.
GOP candidates are currently talking about Obama’s deal with Iran on nuclear weapons. It’s a terrible deal, but I’d wager 90 percent of the public couldn’t utter a constructive sentence about it.
Writing off concerns about foreign nationals here illegally as a matter of “love” or something will lose you both trust and votes. This isn’t about you, it’s about the country.
Cruz [@SenTedCruz] and Paul [@RandPaul], whose brands are associated with fealty to the US Constitution, have addressed matters like Obamacare and the tax code, but their efforts are subordinated by a media cycle fixated on clash and drama rather than substantive policy issues.
I do like Paul’s video showing him feeding that monstrous tax code into the wood chipper. I hope he pushes that video.
Fiorina [@CarlyFiorina] has shown a willingness to fight and engage not seen in recent Republican candidates. Dr. Ben Carson [@RealBenCarson], whose life work should qualify him for near-sainthood, has focused on unity, a message Americans need to hear over and over to offset the current regime’s policy of divisiveness via victimhood dogma.
Just today Bush [@JebBush] talked on Twitter about reforming D.C. and shrinking the federal workforce—more of that, please.
TRUMP WILL DRAW INTEREST IN FIRST DEBATE
As media relay campaign messaging, Trump is on fire on Twitter, using that conduit to media to his full benefit. Today he announced he’s created a veterans’ hotline. If you follow him [@realDonaldTrump], you will see supporters seem to have a personal connection with him. His timeline isn’t just a potpourri of appearances or wonkish statements. It’s electric, ongoing, and designed to engage.
Twitter produces headlines. Every pundit and reporter in the land hangs out there, and much news breaks on those 140-character posts dinosaur pundits love to ridicule. Those posts filter down to the public who may nor may not engage on that social media.
At this point in time, I have no idea who will win the GOP presidential nomination. I haven’t decided on a candidate. I want to see the first debate; I think that debate will be very telling.
I suspect the audience for the first debate may be larger than that for past debates. In large measure, Trump has done the GOP a favor of sorts. He has spiked interest in a party whose communication skills in the leadership realm are weak. He is a showman and a businessman who knows how to build support and who knows to never break the cardinal rule of politics—don’t apologize.
The GOP has the most talented field of candidates. Democrats have the remarkably untalented Hillary Clinton and her long paper trail replete with enough baggage to sink the Titanic. Dems also have the self-declared socialist-on- steroids Bernie Sanders. So the Dems’ nominee has basically been anointed.
To beat Mrs. Clinton and her massive fabrication machine will require a fighter who has skills that Republican candidates did not bring to the arena in 2008 and 2012.
Instead of bashing Trump, GOP candidates should come up with their own initiatives and do what successful leaders do—engage in communications that aim outward rather than inward at your personal philosophy. Create a connection with everyday Americans. This country is up for grabs and if we send another Clinton to the White House, we will see four more years of the same stagnant 1960s activist nonsense we have witnessed for far too long at the hands of the most inept Democrat party I have witnessed since the 1970s.
Selling your brand is the only way to be seen and heard. Snark gets you only so far. And if your campaign staff’s efforts aren’t leading to your ascension in the polls, find new talent. The only way to get your message out is to deliver it effectively whatever your style may be. Despite what the pundit class says, the field is still very fluid.
Talk to us regular folks about what we care about.
Leave the snark about Trump to the pundits, and finally, never trust legacy media.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/July 21, 2015)
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