Will attacks on Clinton be enough?
Coming off of a truly disastrous few weeks that have seen polls shifting against him, Donald Trump took the stage in New York City today and tried to get his campaign back on track by doing the thing that unites Republicans like nothing else—bashing Hillary Clinton. But it like won’t be enough to get his campaign totally back on schedule.
“Hillary Clinton wants to be President,” he said. “But she doesn’t have the temperament, or, as Bernie Sanders’ said, the judgement, to be president.”
It was an interesting attempt by Trump to flip Clinton’s biggest attack on him—that he lacks the temperament to be president—back on her. And he continued his attempt to woo Sanders voters, something he did one other time in the speech, urging Sanders supporters to “join our movement.” He also indirectly referenced one of the main thrusts of Sanders’ campaign, saying “it’s not just the political system that’s rigged. It’s the whole economy.”
On the whole, the speech was among Trump’s better public appearances. He mostly stuck to the script provided to reporters beforehand, rather than going off on tangents and asides as has been his wont to do. That’s perhaps another sign that Trump is trying to professionalize his campaign, which may have started with the firing of his very untraditional and controversial campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.
In short, he was a presidential candidate, rather than the carnival barker he’s mostly tried to be so far.
In terms of content, Trump mostly stuck to the points that have worked for him so far. He bashed Clinton on trade deals like NAFTA. He talked about appointing conservative judges and Supreme Court Justices. He hammered Clinton on her e-mail scandal and accused her of using the State Department to get donations for the Clinton Foundation. Calling the State Department under Clinton a “personal hedge fund.” But he did it in a way that sounded professional and adult.
Giving a speech where you sound like a presidential candidate, though, is fairly easy. It won’t be nearly enough, though, to get Trump back into the race. To do that he’ll need to act like a real candidate behind the scenes as well; fundraising, bringing in a real staff, and establishing a real communications team. Whether or not Trump is willing and able to do that is what will determine his fate.