Don­ald Trump needs to shut up and lis­ten

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Michael Rea­gan Michael Rea­gan is syn­di­cated by Ca­gle Car­toons.

Colum­nist Michael Rea­gan has some ad­vice for the GOP can­di­date in the wake of Mon­day's de­bate.

I watched ev­ery minute of the de­bate with my wife and daugh­ter and a glass of good wine.

I’ve found it’s the heart-health­i­est way to watch a pres­i­den­tial de­bate, be­cause you can’t scream like hell and wave your arms around with a glass of wine in your hand.

We all know that Don­ald Trump did well in the first 20 min­utes of Mon­day’s de­bate be­cause he stayed on mes­sage. We also know he lost the de­bate and missed a dozen op­por­tu­ni­ties to hit Hil­lary.

Don­ald’s main prob­lem was the same one I talked about weeks ago — he doesn’t know when it’s time to just shut up.

What’s worse, as he proved over and over again, he still hasn’t learned how to pivot like a politi­cian.

One of Trump’s most appealing traits is that he’s not a pro­fes­sional politi­cian who’s had decades to prac­tice the low art of ly­ing and speak­ing in legalese — like Hil­lary.

But all suc­cess­ful politi­cians, good and bad, have to know how to pivot.

When a re­porter asks how your health is, you say, “Great. I’m feel­ing al­most as good as I did last week when I heard the FBI direc­tor say Hil­lary Clin­ton was care­less with her clas­si­fied emails.”

When Lester Holt asked Trump the Obama birth cer­tifi­cate ques­tion — which ev­ery­one knew was com­ing — Don­ald should have said some­thing like:

“Glad you asked, Lester. That is­sue’s set­tled. Pres­i­dent Obama is like Bruce Spring­steen. He was born in the USA. Now let’s talk about some­thing that ac­tu­ally mat­ters to vot­ers — like Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s deleted emails or her failures in the Mid­dle East.”

In­stead, when Trump got the birther ques­tion, he flew into his nar­cis­sist mode. He sounded petty and stupid, and ev­ery­one watch­ing the split-screen knew it.

It got even worse when Hil­lary and her team sprang their wellplanned sur­prise and brought up the ugly things Trump sup­pos­edly said 20 years ago to or about Miss Uni­verse Ali­cia Machado.

It was a great de­bate stunt. Trump had no way of see­ing it com­ing. But as usual, he didn’t have the sense to just shut up.

He took the bait, and now all this week the former Venezue­lan beauty queen has been on the front pages in­stead of Trump or Hil­lary’s emails.

Mil­lions of women, es­pe­cially the ones in the news me­dia, are now outraged at Trump for pub­licly “weight-sham­ing” Machado.

They don’t care that Machado broke her con­tract with the Miss Uni­verse pageant or that Trump ap­par­ently saved her from be­ing fired for her weight gain and helped her slim down.

The lib­eral me­dia will never let the real story or the facts get in the way of their pet nar­ra­tive that Trump is a sex­ist pig.

Machado is their in­no­cent vic­tim of the week. And the me­dia will be­lieve her version of the story even if Sean Han­nity digs up a video of her ma­chine-gun­ning a bank teller in Caracas or go­ing out with Bill Clin­ton.

With or with­out Machado, ev­ery­one — in­clud­ing by now, I hope, Trump — knows Hil­lary Clin­ton kicked his butt.

He won the first 25 min­utes of the de­bate, but Hil­lary won the rest. When Trump was on mes­sage, he was good. But when he went into the weeds, he fell apart.

Worst of all, it was clear to 85 mil­lion peo­ple that she was pre­pared and pres­i­den­tial. He was nei­ther.

Trump has two more chances to prove he’s not as aw­ful, in­com­pe­tent and stupid as he was Mon­day.

Maybe he can learn a lot from his mis­takes. Let’s hope so, be­cause he made too many of them to count.

My fa­ther re­cov­ered from his first de­bate against Wal­ter Mon­dale in 1984. Pres­i­dent Obama did the same against Mitt Rom­ney in 2012.

Trump can do the same thing. But like my mother al­ways said to me, “Michael, you’ll never learn any­thing with your mouth open.”

It’s time for the Don­ald to shut up and start lis­ten­ing.

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