Trump still has to win reluctant voters
With 23 weeks until Election Day, Donald Trump — the unlikeliest, most unconventional nominee of a major party in modern times — faces two challenges.Hewitt also has suggestions for cabinet positions that would calm the conservative angst. He clearly has to do more than just say he is not Hillary Clinton. He and his supporters got those high negatives by insulting opponents that they now need of they are going to win. Accusing reluctant voters of supporting Hillary is not going to be a winning argument by itself. They have to give them a reason to support Trump and not just vote against Hillary.
The first is to rally the 30 percent of the GOP faithful who remain at least reluctant to rally to his banner; the second is to lower his unfavorable ratings among the general electorate. (Gallup's numbers from last week led the polling giant to remark that "Trump has a significantly more negative image than has been the norm for his party's nominees at this point in recent campaigns," and that the "relative lack of enthusiasm for Trump among his own party may not be his biggest challenge to winning the presidency — twice as many Americans overall have an unfavorable (60 percent) as a favorable (34 percent) opinion of him.").
I have written elsewhere on the steps Trump could take to reduce the 30 percent of GOP holdouts to a hard core 5 percent of dead-enders whose principles prevent them from ever voting for Trump. (Honorable folk, but from the perspective of a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine in harm's way, someone is going to be commander in chief, and citizens, it seems to me, owe them the better of the two realistic choices and best efforts to deliver that better choice.)
But what about the general electorate, the independents and lightly committed Democrats who view Trump with eyebrows arched and who, however quietly they sit seething with disgust at Clinton cronyism, haven't been persuaded they can trust Trump with their kids' and grandkids' futures?
This is the "Trump's too dangerous, too unstable" tune that the former secretary of state began to play last week. Like Disney's "It's A Small World," it is a melody almost impossible to exile once introduced into the head. Trump needs to move quickly and with more than rally rhetoric to dispel the idea that he is a ticking time bomb of international confrontation over minor matters, a walking, talking insult machine that will escalate every diplomatic tiff into a triple overtime, knockdown, drag-out combat situation.
The path out of this dilemma is for Trump to unveil the Trump Team, starting with the vice presidential selection but not ending there. Put Sen. Tom Cotton on the ticket and let the young, cool Arkansas Harvard lawyer turned Army Ranger turned congressman and then senator methodically destroy the pretensions of the frat boys on the Obama National Security Council and Clinton foreign policy team. ("Former van drivers," "chumps," "failed novelists and campaign flaks" who had never faced anything more dangerous than a shoving match after beer pong battles, Cotton told me about the kids club at the White House last week after its mouthpiece Josh Earnest called Cotton a liar.) Cotton brings seriousness, steadiness and the unflappability one would expect from a platoon leader in Baghdad during the Surge as Cotton was. He is the perfect balance to Trump on the ticket.