Helping Trump isn’t easy
Donald Trump actually looked like a statesman in Mexico City last Wednesday afternoon. It didn’t matter what he and the president of Mexico talked about. It didn’t even matter if they made a secret handshake deal to split the cost of building the great Wall of Trump.
For the first time in his long campaign, Trump actually looked presidential. The visual gravitas didn’t last long, though.
Six hours later in Arizona the old Trump was back, reading a speech from the teleprompter and throwing big slabs of U.S. Prime red meat to his hardcore fan base. He erased all thoughts that he was headed to a kinder, gentler place on immigration, which, unfortunately, remains the signature issue of his campaign.
Not only did he promise to build his wall taller and deeper and stronger, and make Mexico pay for it, but he also promised to get tougher on illegal immigrants in every way.
That’s great. But Trump —- and his campaign —- still don’t get it. He’s still pounding away at immigration when he should be talking about the economy, Obamacare and making the country safe. His tough stand on immigration is what won him the Republican primary. It’s what keeps his hardcore base applauding and cheering for him at his rallies.
But he doesn’t have to pander to that base anymore. He also doesn’t need to be boosting Fox’s ratings every night by appearing with his soulmates Greta, Bill and Sean. He doesn’t need to please the conservative Fox audience anymore, either, who tune in to see everyone beat up on Hillary. They’re already in his bag of votes.
How hard is this? Trump needs to address all those people out there who are not part of his base —- people who aren’t Republicans but who dislike Hillary enough to vote for him because of issues like the economy or trust.
Speaking to a black audience this weekend and pointing out how the Democrat Party has failed blacks for 50 years is the right idea. He has to do more of that.
Next, I’d like to see him shaking hands at a corner taco stand in L.A. After that, he should show up on CNN and even PBS, if they’ll have him. He needs to eat away at Hillary’s base. And that means talking about the economy, jobs and lying Hillary’s personal failings, which are huge. Trump’s campaign staff had a good week.
But calling Hillary a bigot because she takes the black vote for granted was a total waste of time. It’s not going to win Trump votes in November. When I tried to tell the Trump team that in a tweet this week, the response I got from a campaign operative in Trump Tower was, “Oh, are you on the Hillary Clinton payroll?
That’s the common response from Trumpsters and the campaign’s brain trust. If you say anything critical they say, “You must be on Hillary’s payroll.” They don’t want my advice, but everything I’ve said about Trump’s campaign has been proven to be true.
I told them not to hire Paul Manafort to run the campaign. But they did —- and then had to fire him. I told them long ago Trump had to soften his approach to Latinos —- and eventually he did. I think. I refuse to be a Trump enabler. I’ve decided to be a consultant to him via Twitter or my columns. But when I criticize Trump’s campaign I get grief from his followers and his campaign people for being a Hillary lover.
When I told my father in 1980 to fire Paul Manafort and the rest of his campaign team because I could see they were losing the Iowa caucuses to George H.W. Bush, did that mean I was a supporter of Jimmy Carter? No.
There are too many major differences between Trump and my father to count. But one difference is that my father had the sense to listen to me when I gave him good advice.
Michael Reagan is a political columnist. He is the eldest son of President Ronald Reagan, and is heard daily by over 5 million listeners via his nationally syndicated talk radio program.