The election 2016 cycle has been a campaign season unlike any other: on one hand, Hillary Clinton is the first woman ever to win the presidential nomination of a major party. On the other, Donald Trump is a reality star with no qualifications of any kind for the presidency. And with just over two months until election day, the candidates’ strategies have diverged dramatically, due largely to the tone each of their campaigns has struck with voters thus far.
Donald Trump’s efforts have been riddled with xenophobic, racist, bigoted, misogynistic and generally hateful comments towards anyone he disagrees with, and anyone that may dare criticize him. Trump has alienated and ridiculed reporters, political opponents, and even popular members of his own party.
Trump has made certain media persona non grata at his events and feuded with those covering his campaign every step of the way. Trump’s problem, however, has not been the media: it’s been his own uncontrollable mouth.
Although Trump has been on a downward spiral for some time, his poll numbers truly began to tank when he attacked the Gold Star family of a slain Muslim American soldier. Khizr Khan, father of Army captain Humayan Khan, gave an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Convention urging voters not to cast their ballot for Trump, and asking the GOP nominee nominee openly if he had ever read the Constitution of the United States, as it explicitly protects religious freedom and equal protection under the law.
Trump’s downfall continued after he hinted that “second amendment people” could “do something” about Hillary Clinton’s alleged assault on gun rights, and then called President Obama the “founder” of ISIS and initially refused to walk back his comments.
It seemed, for a while, that Trump may have actually been trying to destroy his own campaign. He was a presidential candidate who showed no consideration for anyone other than himself. Members of his own party wrote an open letter to the Republican National Committee asking them to cut off his funding. Still more Republican security officials participated in another open letter calling him a threat to national security.
Now, however, Trump may be trying to turn his campaign around, which is likely too little, too late. The Washington Post reports this week that Trump is desperately trying to shed the primary label that’s continued to drive voters away from his campaign: racist. According to the Post, the GOP nominee has begun reaching out to black and Latino voters, or at least making a show of doing so.
Trump’s new strategy is reported to include trips to primarily black and Latino communities — even though that would be standard for any other Republican candidate. Insiders also told The Washington Post that Trump may try to use Bill Clinton’s crime policy record against Hillary Clinton in an effort to win black voters. He may even undertake a tour with early rival Ben Carson through Detroit.
The goal, then, would be to snatch away some of huge lead Clinton has maintained against him in poll after poll among black voters, Hispanic voters, and women.
Unfortunately for Trump, his attempt to turn toward minority voters and the issues specifically important to them already appears to be flailing. No one is buying the “new” Trump. His first tone-deaf remark came in the form of a speech directed at black and Hispanic voters: “What have you got to lose?” he asked of a community that he usually either ignores or directly targets.
His immigration policies, too, have changed faster than any normal voter can follow. He first appeared to slightly open his stance, calling for a “humane and efficient” solution to undocumented immigrants living in the States, then dismissed a media report that stated he was doing the same, then reverted back to his original hard line stance of mass deportations, before finally publicly agreeing that he would be open to “softening” his position. Throughout each of these changes, however, he’s continued to call immigrants “bad people” and refer to them as criminals.
The Clinton’s camp, on the other hand, is poised to win with a dramatically different approach. Although Clinton has been plagued by questions over her use of a private email server, insiders tell Politico that her strategy may be to simply run down the clock.
Clinton’s most recent headache involves her meetings with Clinton Foundation donors at the State Department. Trump has called for a special prosecutor to look into what he calls a “pay-for-play” system, though evidence of that is scarce.
But Trump has been torpedoing his own run without any real help from his opponent. Allies of the Clinton campaign tell Politico the team plans to “ride out” the negativity.
Those close to Clinton report that she believes voters are tired of hearing about the email controversy, a belief that is bolstered a Monmouth University poll from last year which found that nearly two-thirds of voters were sick of hearing about the Clinton emails.
Photos via Flickr/Gage Skidmore; Composite via The National Memo