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‘Teleprompter Donald’ vs. Poker-faced Clinton: This Could be a Done Deal

EPPERHART ON POLITICS--I, along with about 84 million or so of my fellow Americans, myself Monday evening watching the Democrat and Republican candidates trying to not make fools of themselves. (One of them, anyway.) This will be my 11th presidential campaign as a voter and, like just about everybody, I’ve never seen one like 2016. 

A year ago, few took Donald Trump seriously. His Republican opponents certainly didn’t. Over the following months, what their campaign operatives came to understand was that a rock solid core of G.O.P. voters (about a third) started out for Trump and never wavered. This was all he needed to carry him through the early primaries. As his opponents fell by the wayside, he picked up enough to keep going all the way to Cleveland and the nomination. 

Trump’s strategy, if you can call it that, has been to drive home the same message that America is a dark place, broken and in desperate need of the remedies that only he can provide. It is a pitch that works, but only for those who want the product. Who are these people? 

They are the “disaffected” — folks whose vision of the United States got obscured when all those black and brown and gay people proliferated on their TV screens. They wonder why The Simpsons and South Park are still on and King of the Hill isn’t. They don’t understand why an NFL player, who should be grateful for the opportunity afforded him in this great nation of ours, won’t stand for the National Anthem. 

No matter what Trump says or how he behaves, these folks will stand with him. But they are not enough to get him past the finish line ahead of Hillary Clinton. 

Despite the back-and-forth in national polls, electoral vote prognosticators consistently predict a Clinton win. None have shown Trump at or near the 270 electoral votes he needs to become president. To do that, he will need to persuade the handful of undecideds who could swing the outcome in his favor. 

It’s the deal of his lifetime and he’s blowing it. 

Monday night he tried and failed to make the pivot to “Teleprompter Donald” (as the media have dubbed the more presidential persona.) The split screen showing both candidates provided a stark contrast between the constantly moving Trump and the still, poker-faced Clinton. She looked cool and collected. He looked like he needed to use the restroom. 

Trump’s constant interruptions didn’t rattle Clinton. She is the consummate pro and it showed Monday night. When he tried to distract her, she kept on talking like he wasn’t there. 

His assertion that not paying taxes made him smart (as opposed to us dummies who do) and making money off people who lost property in the recession is good business was a naked display of ego. Telling people you’re bright and they’re dim isn’t a winning strategy. 

Donald Trump has his solid 40 percent of the electorate. They live in his alternate reality and will turn out for him come hell or high water. But, the other 10 percent he needs aren’t buying his sales pitch. With every day that passes, it’s looking more like a done deal.

 

(Doug Epperhart is publisher, a longtime neighborhood council activist and former Board of Neighborhood Commissioners commissioner. He is an occasional contributor to CityWatch and can be reached at: Epperhart@cox.net) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.