Trump Must Attack and Stay on Message in Wednesday Night’s Debate

As Elvis Presley once sang, “It’s now or never.” He could have been writing it directly to Donald Trump who faces that situation tomorrow night in Las Vegas. The third and last presidential debate will be broadcast at 6 pm (PDT). The billionaire mogul needs to ditch the iPhone tweets, stay on message and use the abundance of material at his disposal to put Hillary on the defensive from minute one.

The question everyone is thinking; can he do it? Can Trump drive home the absolute corruptness of the Clinton Foundation and its list of shady donors from foreign countries and the dirt on monies distributed after the Haiti earthquake several years ago? Can he tie Hillary directly to a select few of the many personal emails flowing to the Internet from WikiLeaks and make it stick with the millions watching?

Time is not on Trump’s side and Wednesday night may be his last real opportunity to close the gap where he is trailing in some polls by double digits. In fact, data forecasting site FiveThirtyEight gives him only about a 14 percent chance of winning the White House.

Trump will have nothing to lose and everything to gain if he can stay on message. He must focus like a laser on the most disturbing weaknesses of this 30-year politician whose net worth is estimated at $300 million. “This may be the single nastiest debate of the cycle,” a noted political science professor said.

The Republican presidential nominee, who has much of his own party striking out against him, must make some kind of effort to really do something dramatic. If Trump continues down the road of fending off Hillary’s innuendo and media spin, he is cooked.

trump vs. clinton debate.
Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton debate. Trump must stay on message.

According to the FiveThirtyEight count, Trump has 207 field offices nationwide, compared to 489 for the Democratic nominee. His message must resonate on national TV in this last golden chance to reach an estimated 50 million people.

On Monday, new CNN/ORC polls showed Trump to be competitive in three battleground states: Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. Trump led by 4 points in Ohio, while Clinton had narrower leads in the other two. He must win three out of four key battleground states; Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida.

Trump’s biggest hope is the revelations from Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks organization that could knock Clinton off-track. He must change the venue from the left-leaning media’s delight in printing Trump’s bimbo eruptions on page one. The Donald must get the electorate to stop looking at the shiny object over there and focus on Hillary’s past conduct, treachery and corruption.

He will have to start with a strong performance on the debate stage Wednesday night. He was widely believed to have been more effective in the second debate, held in St. Louis on Oct. 9, than he was in his first encounter with Clinton, held just outside New York City on Sep. 26.

The question is whether he can go the extra mile in his attacks without offending the female audience with his approach? A good showing will provide momentum. The degree of anger about Washington, congress, the state of the country, etc. is there for Trump to resonate, but it has to be decisive and targeted; he must be disciplined.

Fifty million Americans must be reminded of Clinton’s past, her many failures, corruption, lying, FBI criminal investigations, top secret violations, private server, “pay for play” as secretary of state, Wall Street hypocrisy, Benghazi, Syria, Russian re-set button, Crimea, Ukraine, Libya, total withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the rise of ISIS.

Can Trump get the TV electorate to rise in anger over the past eight-years and tie Hillary directly to unemployment, record low GNP, the huge surge in food stamps, illegal immigration, and national security? It is very much like a box of M&M’s, which color do I pick first?

Dwight L. Schwab Jr.
Dwight L. Schwab Jr. is a moderate conservative who looks at all sides of a story, then speaks his mind. He has written more than 3500 national political and foreign affairs columns. His BS in journalism from the University of Oregon, with minors in political science and American history stands him in good stead for his writing.


Dwight has 30-years in the publishing industry, including ABC/Cap Cities and International Thomson. His first book, "Redistribution of Common Sense - Selective Commentaries on the Obama Administration 2009-2014," was published in July, 2014. "The Game Changer - America's Most Stunning Presidential Election in History," was published in April 2017.


Dwight is a native of Portland, Oregon, and now a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area.