The media have been using the word “pivot” when referring to the Trump campaign for months now. They’ve been expecting (or pushing) some kind of “pivot” to a more refined, general election type candidate. After all, conventional wisdom states that Trump should be running a conventional campaign against a conventional politician.
However, in recent days, Trump has indeed pivoted, but not in the direction the Republican Party would like him to. The report comes from CNN:
Donald Trump’s campaign is undergoing a major staff shake-up with less than three months to Election Day, adding two officials to top posts overseeing his struggling campaign and signaling a shift toward campaigning as a scorched earth outsider in order to win.
Trump has named Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News and a former investment banker, to the post of chief executive and promoted Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser and pollster to his campaign, to the position of campaign manager, Conway confirmed to CNN early Wednesday morning.
The addition of Bannon — known for his brass-knuckled demeanor and his website’s sharp tone — came hours after reports surfaced that Roger Ailes, the recently ousted head of Fox News, will begin to advise Trump as he prepares for the presidential debates. The influence of both men lays the groundwork for unleashing Trump this fall from the more traditional presidential candidate framework, which Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s leadership was brought on to create.
Manafort, the campaign’s chief strategist, will stay on in his campaign chairman role, Conway said.
“I look at it as an expansion of the team. Paul remains as chairman,” Conway told CNN.
Being this close to Election Day, with a mere eighty-one days until voters make their decision, a campaign change such as this might ordinarily constitute a dead end for most candidates. However, with Trump, the conventional wisdom has proven wrong time and time again during this campaign, so it’s up in the air.
Now, let me get to the point of this article.
The real catalyst in this campaign will be the presidential debates, the first of three start at the end of September. I don’t believe the polling or the race will change much until Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appear on stage together in front of 70+ million people. Right now Donald Trump is locked in a battle (some would argue a self-made battle) with the media over what he says and doesn’t say on a daily basis. When he has the debate stage, it will be his widest audience to date in this campaign.
Hillary Clinton is assuredly spending time prepping for the showdown and working on her polished debate skills. She is no stranger to the debate stage, having gone through 2008 with Barack Obama, and 2016 with Bernie Sanders. Furthermore, she is skilled at controlling a narrative and staying on message. She will be preparing against a moving target who may say anything that comes to mind at any opportune moment.
Trump will begin buying ads soon in several swing states, though again, I doubt this will impact the race all that much. Rallies, media appearances, and TV ad time are good for small bumps here and there, but mostly in certain regions depending on the issue of the day.
At the first debate, I believe the race will change by either giving Hillary Clinton a lead that Trump cannot catch, or serve to put Trump back in contention by bringing some undecideds over to his side.
So let’s take a jump into the future and pretend it’s September 26th, and we’re all gathered around the TV (or your smart phone) watching the epic historical event unfold before our very eyes and ears…
MODERATOR: Candidates, welcome to you both. Let’s start the economy, segment one, and let’s begin with jobs. What are the major differences between the two of you about how you would go about creating new jobs?
You have one minute. Each of you have one minute to start. A coin toss has determined, Secretary Clinton, you go first.
CLINTON: Well, thank you very much for this opportunity. I want to thank Mr. Trump and Hofstra University for your hospitality.
There are a lot of points I want to make tonight, especially when it comes to the divide that exists in America with regard to economic disparity and the income gap. There are millions of hardworking families in this country that continue to struggle even as the wealthiest continue to grow their accounts at alarming rate.
There is nothing wrong with asking the top earners in America to shoulder some of the responsibility for their fellow Americans by providing us a revenue stream through which we can initiate one of the largest infrastructure projects in American history, a plan that will let us create jobs, create good paying jobs, to lift children from poverty and secure our middle class without compromising who we are as a nation.
Thank you and I look forward to this debate.
MODERATOR: Thank you Secretary Clinton, Mr. Trump, you have 60 seconds, same question.
TRUMP: It’s wonderful to be here tonight, it’s been, it’s an amazing thing we’ve seen this campaign season, the thousands and thousands of people coming out to support us, support making America great again. We started last year with people saying ‘he won’t run, he won’t run,’ but we did it, we’re here, the American people back this message.
People want jobs, they need good paying jobs. America used to have high paying manufacturing jobs in places like Ohio, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. Our politicians used to put America first, put our workers first when it came to trade and immigration, we don’t do that anymore. Our jobs get shipped overseas, we get beaten by China, by Japan, and yes, especially by Mexico, and I don’t blame them. Our politicians have run this country into the ground for twenty-five years and we need a change. We need to put America first once again. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you both. Let’s stay on the topic of jobs for right now. Mr. Trump, you’ve been a self-proclaimed champion of American workers, but your critics have pointed out that much of the merchandise manufactured for your Trump brand is made in foreign countries, from Malaysia to Indonesia, among others. How can you champion American workers if you have outsourced your own manufacturing?
Stay tuned next week for the response…