Ed flagged this earlier in an update but it’s the soundbite of the day, so here’s a separate thread. A Twitter pal argues that Trump is obviously joking here. Sort of, yeah — he’s trolling, knowing that the media has spent the last 12 hours hyperventilating over what he said last night at the debate and that this will have them reaching for an oxygen tank. I think this is best described as “kidding on the square,” though. He’s saying it half-jokingly, knowing that his fans will love his defiance (note the dramatic pointing at the crowd followed by a big smile), but this really is the Trump ethos in microcosm. Whatever favors Trump is good and legitimate, whatever disfavors him is bad and illegitimate. No process can truly be fair if it produces a bad outcome for him. You see this all the time from him, in ways very big and small. Much of the reason he refuses to slam Putin, I think, is because Putin’s a rare member of the international political class who’s spoken admiringly of Trump. How bad a guy can he really be?
Whether it’s the best use of a major-party nominee’s time to be trolling the media 19 days out from election day, I leave to you to decide. It does, however, fit the nature of Trump’s campaign at this point, which is mostly “fan service” for core supporters. He tried outreach to the middle in September by briefly softening on immigration and speaking to some black audiences. And it worked! The polls narrowed. But then he lost the first debate and things started going sideways, then the tape came out, then his accusers started coming forward, and now we’re here. He might as well make his fans happy, not only to buoy morale and keep them excited to turn out next month but to shore up their interest in TrumpTV or whatever’s coming after the election.
Speaking of outreach to the middle, here’s an … interesting tweet last night from the person who’s widely assumed to have quarterbacked that strategy within the campaign.
That’s the second time in a week that Conway’s used her Twitter account to suggest displeasure with Trump’s Trumpier excesses. Kellyanne’s inching towards the lifeboats.
Interestingly, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who’s probably the Trumpiest politician in the GOP apart from Trump himself, said this morning of the debate last night, “Not accepting the results, I think, is a stupid comment. I mean, c’mon. Get over yourself.” Trump may find himself with fewer allies than he expects on election night if he loses by, say, five points and then goes out for his concession speech and calls the results bogus. The members of his inner circle with nothing to lose, like Giuliani or Gingrich, will back him up, but the wider party might just throw up its hands and disown him. Reince Priebus, in fact, said just last night that the RNC will accept the results of the election. All of these people — LePage, Priebus, Conway, Pence — are trying to signal to Trump right now that if he goes down the “rigged” road when this is over, he’d better understand that he’s going alone. But maybe Trump’s okay with that. The lonelier he is in crying that the election’s illegitimate, the more it’ll polish his reputation among his biggest fans that he’s willing to do and say the politically incorrect things that cowardly Republicans aren’t willing to.
Here’s this morning’s soundbite followed by a clip of disgraced DNC hack Debbie Wasserman Schultz insisting one month ago that Al Gore won Florida in 2000, which is an out-and-out lie but flattering to cranks on the left who need to believe, despite all evidence, that George W. Bush was “selected, not elected.” Among those cranks, by the way: Hillary Clinton.