Republican nominee Donald Trump’s momentum has reached a cooling off period after the Monday night debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. The real issues became bimbo topics, income taxes and the Iraq War and Trump took the bait. Debate Two is next.
Although to many viewers, Trump tied or lost the debate, Hillary Clinton was cast as the loser in most port-debate surveys. The first polls in the days after the debate have shown movement in favor of the Democrat. And media coverage since the clash at Hofstra University has also exposed discontent within the Trump camp.
Trump is still very much in the race. Clinton leads by around 3 points in the RealClearPolitics national polling average. Trump is given almost a 40 percent chance of prevailing by forecasting site FiveThirtyEight, which is easily within striking distance with 39-days until the election and two debates left on the campaign calendar.
Trump can be forgiven for taking the bait the Hillary campaign had tested in recent weeks as she researched his trigger points for the debate. It was the non-politicians first at-bat in a national debate of any kind, unlike the seasoned veteran Clinton.
There is no doubt Trump must stay on script for his theme of Make America Great Again, but he must take command of the heavily armed talking points Hillary provided. She was virtually unscathed by Trump’s weak rebuttals and obvious openings the former secretary of state would show her variety of solid weaknesses.
But both those data points have moved in Clinton’s direction in recent days. Here are five things that Trump could do to try to re-establish momentum.
For the billionaire real estate mogul to be more effective, he needs to put the Monday debate behind him. Hillary’s last minute question about women left the door wide open for sleaze talk about a former Miss Universe and her version of what happened between Trump and the Miss Universe of Venezuela. Forget about it and keep the Clintons’ bimbo eruptions away from the next clash.
Stop playing into Hillary’s game plan of shiny objects to avoid real policy discussion and her lackluster record as secretary of state and her foreign policy disasters with Obama. It is what the country wants to hear and he must play up the role of rebel, untarnished by lobbyists or outside influences and his private sector experience.
The first debate was a setback for Trump but not a catastrophe. He went toe-to-toe the first 20 minutes or so. His free trade argument was hit out of the ball park. He scored points by portraying Clinton as part of the political status quo for three decades. Detail their differences and put Clinton under pressure to defend her record. The free trade issue, in particular, is potent in critical Rust Belt states such as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Where is his vice presidential nominee Mike Pence? The even-tempered governor from Indiana is the perfect balance for the fiery Trump. He is a vital part of the campaign and should look good with his logic in his upcoming debate with Hillary’s further left vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine? The vice-presidential debate will take place in Farmville, Va., on Tuesday.
A strong performance from Pence could be the ticket for another rise in the polls although the TV audience is expected to be shadowed by the first presidential debate. It’s the perfect venue to precede Trump’s second debate five days later on October 10th. History has shown that vice presidential candidate Joe Biden steadied the ship against Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan after Obama’s shaky first debate against Mitt Romney in 2012.
Trump is a master of driving the media at 24/7 pace. He failed to do that in the first debate. He must change the conversation. Perhaps think about delivering a major policy speech to grab the headlines prior to the debate.
The next Clinton-Trump debate is only nine-days away. Trump must be more disciplined with his preparation before the debate and needs a better focus for its duration. Can he pull that off with a more seasoned Hillary Clinton and her campaign advisors? If not, an eager anti-Trump media will gladly destroy him after the debate.
We know what Trump must do to win, but can he stay on track long enough to do it?