There are two prongs to the campaign’s strategy the rest of the way, according to a Trump inner-circler who spoke to Yahoo News. One is cynical yet smart, one is … not so smart. The smart part:
Trump’s all-out offensive is not just designed to defend against the groping allegations or to serve red meat to what the source described as his “populist” and “nationalist base.” According to the source, who requested anonymity to discuss high-level strategy candidly, the attacks on the Clintons are also aimed at the “suppression of votes” from millennial women, African-Americans and the “idealistic Bernie Sanders supporter.”…
That’s why many of Trump’s attacks on the Clinton Foundation will focus on its dealings in Haiti and sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Nigeria. The source described these countries as places where the Clintons “treat blacks as people they can make money off.” The source said Trump came up with this line of attack, which he brought up in the last presidential debate, to appoint a special prosecutor as president and potentially jail Hillary Clinton, as he was conducting an event in Miami’s Little Haiti, where locals were venting their dissatisfaction with the Clinton family’s dealings in their country.
The source predicted that these attacks, coupled with Trump’s “populist message,” would help “get 10 to 15 percent of the black vote,” but said that the move was primarily an attempt to get other African-Americans to stay away from the polls on Election Day.
The last bit is unlikely, especially on the high-end estimate, but even if Trump doesn’t cut into Clinton’s share of the black vote he’d benefit greatly if he can demoralize key parts of her base into not turning out. That’s a sound plan for a candidate who may have hit his ceiling in the polls: If you can’t build on your own numbers, try driving down your opponent’s. Highlight Bill Clinton’s accusers to inspire disgust in young women who never learned much about the Clinton scandals; chatter about shenanigans in Haiti and secret speeches to Wall Street to alienate blacks and progressives. In major battlegrounds where the race is tight, i.e. Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, every liberal who stays home gets Trump an inch closer to winning. And ironically, the predictions lately of electoral doom for Trump might further help him by convincing low-information voters on the left that their votes aren’t needed after all. It’s gonna be a landslide. Why bother getting out of bed on November 8th? Meanwhile, Trump’s polling is more or less steady despite the avalanche of oppo he’s been hit with lately. The liberal base could begin tuning out this month on the assumption that there’s no way Trump can win, only to have him quietly hanging around long enough in the polls to benefit from a major late surprise.
So far, so good. This part, though? Not so good:
But the Trump source played down the political risks of the recent spate of sexual misconduct claims against the Republican nominee, saying that such allegations could help Trump in arguing that he’s a crusading outsider under attack by a fixed system.
“I think it reinforces the fact of — the corporate media/establishment apparatus that we’re against,” the source explained. “Also, remember, you know, we’re not trying to sell Trump to millennial women. That’s the difference. So, does this hurt? We look at it as a positive for the fact of: It’s once again a gang, a pile-on.”
In fairness, the advisor isn’t saying he’s glad the sexual-assault stories are coming out. He’s trying to make lemonade from the lemons he’s been given. There’s a silver lining to the “pile-on,” and it’s the fact that nothing unites Republicans like their shared contempt for the media. But … which Republicans? Trump’s hardcore supporters are already all aboard the Trump train. They would walk through fire to turn out next month, media pile-on or no. It’s the softer supporters he needs to worry about turning out. And as it turns out, bombshells bursting daily about him groping women, “grabbing them by the p***y,” and then mocking his accusers’ looks might not mean a net gain in soft support. Gallup:
That period, October 7-11, covers the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape and the second debate but not the sexual assault allegations this week. His rating within his own party could be even lower now. Meanwhile, here’s the trend in Clinton’s favorable rating among Democrats over the same period:
Maybe that surge is due to her (highly mediocre) debate performance, but I’d guess it has more to do with Dems getting revved up to beat Trump after the tape came out. And although his polling hasn’t tanked overall, there were individual polls that came out this week suggesting a sharp dive — most notably Fox News, which now has him down seven points nationally after he trailed by two just a week before. The Trump advisor who spoke to Yahoo News is betting, essentially, that media-bashing will win you more votes in a general election than a weeks-long scandal involving damaging audio followed by daily accusations of sexual misconduct will lose you. That might be true in a Republican primary, embarrassingly, but it’s not true when the other parties get to vote too.
And at least one person close to the top seems to know it:
The Trump advisor quoted up top claims that Conway is all aboard with the campaign’s strategy, but that tweet feels like a wink to the media that she knows Trump rambling at length about the accusations against him at his rallies is, well, nuts. (This short Twitter thread about the game Conway is playing with the media is incisive, and worth your time.) That’s the other weird thing about treating the media pile-on as a “positive.” It’s fine to deflect questions about the allegations by bashing the media when they ask about it, but it’s beyond stupid for Trump to introduce the subject himself at his events. Like Conway says, he should be full bore on his core issues — build the wall, Clinton is corrupt, it’s time for a change from the corrupt status quo in Washington. But then, Trump is Trump: When he’s getting punched hard, as he is every day now, he’s going to punch back almost every time whether that’s smart or not. (He at least had the good sense not to take the Democrats’ bait by attacking Michelle Obama.) Maybe Wikileaks will bail him out with some nuclear Hillary oppo next week.