by Dmitry Minin, Strategic-Culture:
If Hillary Clinton’s illness had not materialized, someone would probably have had to have made one up for her. The Democratic presidential candidate’s dramatic drop in popularity just over the course of the last month has been attributed to her sudden health issues and pneumonia. Of course they’re claiming that Clinton will recover and that her extraordinary determination to keep fighting will make voters even more sympathetic to her. The biggest US media outlets are helping her spin that.
But without delving into the details of Ms. Clinton’s medical reports, if we just rewind the tape, the timeline of events looks somewhat different. The polls showing Donald Trump’s popularity across the nation quickly gaining on Hillary’s – and perhaps even surpassing hers – began to emerge in late August, back when she still seemed quite vigorous and no one was talking about her health. The tipping point in the presidential race did not materialize after Hillary’s unfortunate fainting episode, but before it. But it’s not the Democratic candidate’s health issues that are responsible for the shifting tide, but rather the strategic missteps by Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff.
The inordinate personification of the entire campaign by the Democratic camp was the initial miscalculation. Donald Trump does love to get a rise out of his audience, but – seeing him as an easy target – they focused on his persona instead of trying to attack his quite serious political platform.
In the Democratic campaign it all came down to Trump’s personality – after all he’s a racist who is unpredictable and incompetent, he gushes over America’s enemies and is himself a threat to his nation’s security, and so on. So, thus distracted, Clinton and her advisers failed to notice when her Republican challenger radically altered his behavior, suddenly metamorphosing into a level-headed and observant politician who delves deeply into every issue. In his campaign he has refused to exploit Clinton’s ill health and has stopped his aides from doing so. He now launches far fewer personal attacks on his opponent. He currently prefers to lambaste the last traces of President Obama’s dwindling popularity, making it clear that Clinton would be nothing more than «Obama Part Two».
This billionaire candidate is nothing if not wily. In the beginning, his outrageous pronouncements drew nationwide attention and mobilized the radical fringe of the population most fed up with America’s political regime. Now he’s working with politically moderate Americans. Trump speaks to audiences of widely varying ethnic and faith backgrounds, assuring his listeners that his purported hostility to minorities is pure fiction. This could be seen in Trump’s very significant visit to Mexico and his meeting with the president of that country.
In the end, he demonstrated that he can have a very friendly relationship with Mexicans (who had been portrayed as his probable first victims upon taking office), and he can negotiate successfully with them. It turns out that Trump’s much-lampooned idea of walling off the US-Mexican border is actually quite acceptable to the Mexican government, which is every bit as concerned as the US government by the criminal elements crossing back and forth across the border. The only issue is about who is going to pay to build it. But if push comes to shove, Trump will undoubtedly be able to force the Mexicans to cough up the cash. And after Trump came back from Mexico no one was mocking his wall anymore.
The Republican candidate is also actively pursuing the union vote, which had always been seen as Democratic turf. The ace up his sleeve will be his careful preparation prior to meetings with them and his ability to allude to the nuances of any particular trade. Several influential unions have already declared their support. And impressive data is coming in from places that until quite recently were seen as utterly out of reach for Trump. He holds a commanding lead in Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and even Iowa, which has swung Republican in only one of the last seven presidential campaigns.
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