Republican candidate for US president vows to institute “extreme vetting” of immigrants.
When political scientists and historians look back at the 2016 presidential race in the United States, they will remember August 17 as a pivotal day in the campaign.
This is the day that Republican nominee Donald Trump shuffled his campaign staff. He has basically demoted Paul Manafort, who had been in charge.
The new chief executive is a man named Stephen Bannon. You might be thinking it’s just a personnel shift, but in presidential elections, the person in that position is as responsible for a win or a loss as the actual candidate.
This swap is about much more than just the name, it is what it represents.
Donald Trump was facing a choice. He could “pivot” as the Republican Party establishment had urged and appear more “presidential”, or he could do what he did in the primary, which is speak off the cuff and not worry about who it offends. He has made his choice and it is clear by picking Bannon he is going with the latter.
Bannon is a former banker turned Hollywood heavyweight who was responsible for running Breitbart News, a website known for attacking Democrats. His mission has been to take on the establishment regardless of political party. He has angered Republicans as much as Democrats in Washington.
By all reports, he got the top job by telling Trump he has to go back to doing what he did in the primaries. He wants him to run a blatantly nationalist, populist, anti-establishment campaign.
There is no question that since the conventions, Trump has been plummeting in the polls. He is losing to Hillary Clinton in national polls. But more importantly in many of the critical swing states that will determine the election, he is behind by double digits.
Donald Trump has made it clear that he pays careful attention to polls, television ratings and vote totals.
I’m sure he looked at the polls and asked himself why he was falling behind.
There could have been two answers. First, he could have decided that what works in a primary does not in the general election.
Since the convention he has caused controversy almost every single time he has spoken. He did everything from insult the parents of a fallen soldier to seemingly encourage gun violence against his opponent and her Supreme Court selections.
The second answer could have been that in recent days he seemed to be trying something new. His policies didn’t change but he gave a few speeches using a teleprompter.
With this decision, Trump has decided that by not “being himself” he was losing.
So now expect what has been a controversial candidacy to become even more so.
The attacks on Clinton will become stronger and more frequent. He will attack all things establishment and Washington.
Trump plans to say things that will make headlines that will offend many. By making this choice he is choosing what kind of campaign he wants to run. At the very least it will be one that people will be talking about a lot.