U.S. Politics

Donald Trump’s New Attack Strategy: Curb Clinton Vote

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump greeted supporters Saturday outside of Trump Tower in New York City.

PHOTO: SPENCER PLATT/GETTY IMAGES

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The Republican nominee has given up the conventional wisdom of trying to reach voters far outside his core of support

Donald Trump, faced with opposition inside and outside his party, plans to renew the nationalist themes that built his base and amplify his no-holds-barred attacks against Hillary Clinton to try to depress Democratic voter turnout, his advisers said.

Following the release of a tape-recording of his lewd comments about women and severalhigh-profile Republican defections over the weekend, Mr. Trump has effectively given up the conventional wisdom of trying to reach voters far outside his core of support, one high-level Republican supporter said.

The new strategy emerged Tuesday on Mr. Trump’s Twitter account when he sent out messages attacking Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan as a weak leader after Mr. Ryan announced he wouldn’t appear with the nominee.

“It’s so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to,” Mr. Trump wrote.

Later, in an interview with Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, Mr. Trump seemed to suggest that if he wins the election Mr. Ryan should be removed, saying Mr. Ryan “maybe wouldn’t be there, maybe he’ll be in a different position.”

Mr. Trump, in fact, is trying to use his break with many party leaders as a lever to ramp up support among his base, which includes many voters who feel equally estranged from the party establishment.

The decision means that a campaign already marked by intensely personal attacks is primed to grow even uglier in the remaining four weeks. Mr. Trump plans to keep up a relentless assault on Mrs. Clinton, including her use of a private email server and allegations about her husband, former President Bill Clinton, with the intention of keeping some of her supporters home on Election Day, his advisers said.

 

“As more and more Republicans defect, it’s no surprise that Donald Trump is getting more and more desperate,” said Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon. “In the closing weeks, he can run his campaign however he chooses, but Hillary Clinton is going to continue talking about her positive vision for improving the lives for everyday Americans.”

It remains questionable whether Mr. Trump’s strategy can turn around the electoral math. His core supporters don’t make up a majority of the electorate, and most analysts see no path to victory unless he adds to them, even if Mrs. Clinton’s vote total is driven down. And a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows him trailing the Democratic nominee by nine percentage points among likely voters, though his standing improved after his performance in Sunday’s debate, particularly with Republicans.

3-muskateers-4-trump

PHOTOS:EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS(3)

Mr. Trump’s advisers said they and their candidate are convinced he can win, noting that in the three weeks before the first debate, Mr. Trump climbed in the polls to even or ahead of Mrs. Clinton.

Most Republican lawmakers wouldn’t comment on their candidate’s announced change of tone. A written statement provided by Mr. Ryan said the Wisconsin congressman was “focusing the next month on defeating Democrats, and all Republicans running for office should probably do the same.”

Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who worked on the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney and George W. Bush, said Mr. Trump’s approach would drive turnout among his base, “but alienating his own party and swing voters won’t grow his vote. His remarks and tactics can have the adverse effect of energizing the Democratic base.”

Mr. Trump began losing ground after his panned performance in the first presidential debate last month, which was followed by news of a nearly billion-dollar business loss in the mid-1990s that may have shielded him for years from federal income taxes.

After the debate, Mr. Trump persisted in tweets and in comments on the campaign trail about the weight gains of a former Miss Universe , the woman mentioned by Mrs. Clinton during the first debate as the target of humiliating remarks by Mr. Trump.

Then on Friday, all attention turned to the video of Mr. Trump’s talking about groping women’s genitals and forcibly kissing women.

Mr. Trump huddled with advisers at the Trump Tower building in New York City that night. That is when they resolved to implement the “scorched-earth” strategy that had been held in reserve, one adviser said.

The campaign recruited appearances by three women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, and a fourth angry at Mrs. Clinton for her work as a legal-aid lawyer defending a man accused of raping the woman when she was a girl. Mr. Clinton has denied the allegations.

On Saturday, as leading Republicans withdrew their endorsements for the GOP nominee, Mr. Trump prepared for the debate in his glass-encased conference room of the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus received many calls and emails from Republicans urging him to pull his funding from the Trump campaign. Most donors and elected officials weren’t aware that Mr. Priebus participated in Mr. Trump’s debate prep.

In rapid-fire fashion, according to two people there, the RNC chairman asked Mr. Trump questions such as: “I’m a dreamer with illegal-immigrant parents and a little brother, what will you do with me?” and, “I’m a laid-off factory worker, how specifically can you bring back my job?”

Supporters had gathered on the street below, and Mr. Trump put on a suit jacket and went downstairs to greet them. He returned upbeat, several advisers said, and resolved to fight harder against his opponents, including those in his own party. Around 6 p.m., he retired to his penthouse for the night.

The advisers looked at each other. They wanted their boss to prepare more, but they also noticed that Mr. Trump seemed re-energized.

Only five people in the campaign knew the four women would appear with Mr. Trump before the debate. On Sunday, they were brought before news cameras. The Trump campaign had tried to seat them in a box reserved for the family of the two opponents but was refused permission.

When the debate began, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump didn’t shake hands. The Republican nominee took the stage ready to deliver on his goal of going on the attack. Mrs. Clinton raised public revulsion over Mr. Trump’s taped comments about women, as well as his earlier remarks disparaging Hispanics and Muslims.

A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests Mr. Trump’s performance might have stopped his political bleeding. He had trailed Mrs. Clinton by 11 points in Journal/NBC News polling on Saturday and Sunday, conducted shortly after disclosure of the videotape.

Mrs. Clinton’s lead in the polls fell in polling Monday. Mr. Trump narrowed the gap with more support from Republicans, the poll found. Some 83% of Republicans said in postdebate polling that they would vote for Mr. Trump in a head-to-head matchup against Mrs. Clinton, up from a weak 60% in weekend surveys.

Over the three days of polling, before and after the debate, Mrs. Clinton’s lead stood at 9 percentage points, 46% to 37%, among likely voters on a ballot including third-party candidates

After attacking the Clintons during Sunday’s debate, Mr. Trump moved against GOP leaders who had never fully embraced him as candidate or nominee. Mr. Trump has said they risk alienating his supporters who make up the biggest share of the Republican base.

“I may be limping across that finish line,” Mr. Trump said at a a rally Monday. “But I’m getting across that finish line.”

By MONICA LANGLEY

See also:

Trump Renews Warning About ‘Stolen’ Election

Republican presidential nominee talks at two Pennsylvania campaign stops about ‘rigged’ results

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s