Coming out of the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and her supporters had every right to feel that her campaign was right where it needed to be. She had gotten what looked like at the time a modest bounce, whereas the same modest bounce that Donald Trump had received coming out of the Cleveland RNC had disappeared. There was even talk in the Clinton campaign of cutting her television ad spending in a number of battleground states. I can virtually guarantee you that Hillary had already started think about what color the drapes she should have in the Oval Office.
Then, all of a sudden, you had the Trump campaign shake-up at the top, followed by a series of on-point speeches before audiences that increasingly targeted the African-American and Hispanic votes, then the trip to the flood-stricken folks in Louisiana that caught everyone – the White House and the Clinton campaign – by surprise. At the same time, the previous dribble of documents from WikiLeaks involving Clinton Foundation and Clinton Global Initiative interactions with Hillary and the State Department became a deluge that even the mainstream media couldn’t overlook. The media, thirsty to counteract the Clinton campaign’s absence from the campaign trail in the face of all this and focus instead on Trump, looked everywhere for Trump gaffes and misspeaks they could use, but couldn’t find anyway – he was using the Teleprompter and on message every day. Trump’s accusations of “pay for play” at the State Department with foreign donors were then only given greater credence when the Clinton campaign resisted calls from even their biggest supporters in the mainstream press to shut the Foundation down, saying it would only consider doing so if Clinton were elected.
The polls started to close, virtually overnight. Trump’s remark about Hillary being a bigot became a major topic of discussion all over the cable news networks. This in particular had to have stung and stung mightily; the internal polling being done by the Clinton campaign must have begun showing a slow erosion in Hillary’s support amongst African-Americans because the Clinton campaign obviously panicked: yet, instead of having Clinton appear before a friendly audience of African-Americans and speak in a measured, confident tone to contrast her style of leadership against Trump’s, it instead rushed her out in front of a largely-white (not to mention small) audience in Reno, Nevada (of all places!) to deliver a wild screech against a new vast right-wing conspiracy known as the “alternate right”.
In baseball terms it would be called a wild swing and miss, for all it did was highlight the very aspects of her personality and reputation that made folks remember why they didn’t like her in the first place. She sounded harsh, petty, paranoid, and vindictive. Not to mention joyless. The result of which saw her poll numbers continue to slide into what has become a virtual tie with Trump. And that with seventy days still to go.
Then today the Trump campaign delivered what could only be called a double haymaker to the Clinton campaign: Trump accepting an invitation from Mexican president Pena Nieto and then appearing with him at a brief press conference, followed shortly thereafter with his major speech on illegal immigration delivered on all the major cable networks in front of 15,000 people in Phoenix. As for the first event of the day, Byron York writes in the Washington Examiner:
About an hour before Donald Trump made his joint statement with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, a strategist in Trump’s extended circle saw success on the horizon.
“I bet they have a nice meeting where they both explain their positions and promise to talk further — it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that,” the strategist explained. “If [Trump] just has a calm, behind-closed-doors meeting, has a photo taken, looks presidential, and gets out of town, that’s a big win.”
Indeed, it was a big win — a very big win — for Trump. Going into a meeting with the potential for disaster — who knew how [Mexican president] Pena Nieto would receive the world’s most controversial presidential candidate or what embarrassments might lie ahead? — Trump came out of the meeting looking very much like a potential President of the United States. Standing beside the Mexican leader in front of a green-gray granite wall reminiscent of the United Nations, Trump presented the picture of a statesman.
Contrast Trump’s moment with the Mexican president with Hillary Clinton’s appearance in Cincinnati, Ohio earlier to speak about “American exceptionalism” before a sparse American Legion crowd. Looking tired and like she just rolled out of bed, Clinton offered yet another speech where she appeared to be simply going to the motions, offering nothing new, saying nothing memorable. This on a day where it was revealed she had e-mailed classified information even after she left the State Department and the State Department being ordered by a federal judge to hand over the files of Clinton’s closest aide, Huma Abedin.
And further contrast her appearance with Trump’s in Phoenix where, forceful and energized, he laid out a detailed ten-point plan to overhaul America’s immigration system. As Sundance so ably lists in his Conservative Treehouse post:
One: We will build a wall along the Southern Border.
Two: End Catch-And-Release
Three: Zero tolerance for criminal aliens.
Four: Block Funding For Sanctuary Cities
Five: Cancel Unconstitutional Executive Orders & Enforce All Immigration Laws
Six: We Are Going To Suspend The Issuance Of Visas To Any Place Where Adequate Screening Cannot Occur
Seven: We will ensure that other countries take their people back when we order them deported.
Eight: We will finally complete the biometric entry-exit visa tracking system.
Nine: We will turn off the jobs and benefits magnet [E-Verify].
Ten: We will reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers.
Were the speech solely a litany of what the Obama administration has done and what a Clinton administration would do, that would have been forceful enough, but bringing up the parents of children killed by illegal immigrants made it even more forceful and brought more than a human element to it. More than that, it stuck a finger in the eye of all the mainstream media pundits who had spent the last week accusing Trump of “softening” his approach on illegal immigration. Trump’s call to them in his speech, to basically do their jobs and focus less on the so-called plight of illegal immigrants and more on the plight of American workers whose jobs are being taken from them by illegal immigrants and wages that have stagnated with the influx of unskilled and undocumented workers was simply the cap to what was, perhaps, the most memorable day in the 2016 campaign thus far.
Expect this message to be pounded home further when Trump brings his campaign directly to African-Americans in Detroit this coming weekend. And then watch mainstream media heads explode in faux outrage.
It’s all starting to coming apart at the seams for the Clinton campaign – not as if we haven’t seen this kind of thing before – and if Democrats are starting to panic behind the scenes they have damned good reason to. I can guarantee you that the Clinton campaign is starting to panic, and I would expect you’ll see some tell-tale signs of it in the coming days.
What the Trump campaign is doing is showing what a winning campaign looks like: it’s deft, quick on their feet, and several steps ahead of both the Clinton campaign and the mainstream media. For example, we now know why Trump’s immigration speech planned for last week was postponed until this week – it was rescheduled to a larger venue for greater impact, and coordinated around the meeting with President Pieto for maximum impact. Of course, all you heard from the naysayers in the press was how “confused” the Trump campaign was over the event, and how Trump’s hard line on illegal immigration was “softening”. How foolish they now look.
It’s clear the Trump campaign is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. And watch for more of it in the coming days.