Donald Trump is in danger of losing the presidential election, and becoming a historical asterisk. It’s not over yet for The Donald, but his own supporters need to see him fight smarter than he has, and overcome the media in the way only he can.
Trump soared to the nomination for one reason: he was seen as a candidate who would fight harder, and better, than his rivals. Moreover, he was fighting for people the GOP had forgotten. But we have not seen that Donald Trump since Cleveland.
The only people who are enjoying the spectacle are #NeverTrump Republicans, like Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), who have convinced themselves that we “can live to win or lose another day.”
No, we will not. With several Supreme Court picks in the near future, Hillary Clinton can install far-left liberal judges for generations. Conservatism, as we know it, will not survive.
Trump has counted on that threat to unify the party behind him. That is not enough. He needs to lead, starting as follows:
1. Remind supporters he stands with military families. Trump needs to gather his legion of military supporters — the veterans, the Gold Star parents, the Benghazi families — and hold a “huge” press event to acknowledge his error in responding to the Khan family, and to renew the unwritten agreement between the commander-in-chief and every soldier’s family. In doing so, he will provide a contrast to Hillary Clinton, who to this day continues to lie about and insult the Benghazi families.
2. Focus on “Clinton Cash.” The Clintons say they left the White House “dead broke,” but are now the super-rich. They achieved that by selling influence, often for the benefit of foreign powers, including Russia. They used the Clinton Foundation to subsidize their lavish lifestyles, and as a conduit for what amounted to bribes. They ensured Haiti remains a wasteland and delivered 20% of American uranium to Vladimir Putin. They are running away from their own “charity.” Stick it to them.
3. Remind Americans of Libya. Hillary’s foreign policy problems go beyond Benghazi or emails. She masterminded the war in Libya, undertaken without congressional approval and in violation of the Constitution. The result is that the whole of North Africa is a terrorist playground today. Boko Haram, ISIS, Al Qaeda — all are running rampant thanks to Clinton’s vanity and incompetence. And, yes — when Americans were in grave danger, she did nothing to help. That’s her “responsible” leadership.
4. Introduce his Cabinet. There are serious policy minds involved in the Trump campaign. He needs to use them, and fulfill his promise to introduce his Cabinet to the nation. Americans need to visualize what the Trump presidency will look like — and it will have to be more than an entertaining Twitter feed, and more than mass rallies where he shadow-boxes the media. Trump needs to get his smartest advisers out in front of the cameras on a daily basis talking about things other than Trump.
5. Mock Hillary on “Systemic Racism.” The day after five Dallas police officers were murdered in cold blood at a Black Lives Matter rally, Hillary Clinton was hectoring white Americans about “systemic racism,” effectively siding with the killer. “White Americans need to do a better job of listening when African Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face every day,” she tweeted. What? She is the opposite of law and order: she is encouraging chaos. Remind people of that.
6. Stick to the target: Hillary Clinton. Trump has let the 2016 election become a referendum about him, when it should be a referendum on his rival, who has achieved almost nothing over decades in public life and has done much to disqualify herself. He has a winning line with “I’m with you,” a counter to her asinine “I’m with her” campaign slogan. He needs to back that up by surrounding himself with people onstage — people who Hillary Clinton has harmed in the past and would suffer in future.
7. Stay on the issues. Trump’s message is virtually unbeatable. He alone has the pulse of the electorate on trade, immigration, radical Islam, and law-and-order. Any time he talks about anything other than these issues, he risks losing. Hillary can only copy his position on trade; she is running in the other direction on immigration, refuses to acknowledge radical Islam, and has no credibility on law and order. Every speech, every statement, should reiterate Trump’s position on these four key issues.
8. Don’t take the bait. Before the weekend, Peggy Noonan warned: “The big thing we found out in the convention is exactly how Democrats will attempt to dismantle Mr. Trump … They’ll try to drive him crazy, too, quite deliberately. They’ll do this not by quoting him accurately and denouncing his views, but by misquoting him, putting a twist on what he said, and then denouncing him. They’ll try to get him to whine, whinge, blow his top. They’re doing it already, to their profit. They’ll play the picador tormenting the bull, goading him, weakened, into an unfortunate charge.” Trump should stop falling for it.
The point of these changes is not to reach out to Hillary Clinton’s voters — they are lost. Nor is it to appease the #NeverTrump pundits, who have a vested professional interests in seeing Donald Trump lose, regardless of the consequences for the nation.
Right now, Donald Trump’s own voters need to see him behave like a leader and a president. Otherwise, too many of us will stay home. And those of us for whom Trump once spoke, who risked everything with him, will never forgive him for losing.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.