Un­scripted Trump drowns his eco­nomic mes­sage

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Steve Peo­ples

Thou­sands of Michi­gan vot­ers roared with ap­proval as Don­ald Trump lashed out at an eco­nomic sys­tem he said was rigged against ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans. They cheered louder when he de­clared that Hil­lary Clin­ton was to blame.

“I am go­ing to fight so hard for all of you,” the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee boomed as he read from a teleprompter, “and I am go­ing to bring back the jobs that have been stripped away from you and your coun­try.”

Friends and foes agree he is at his best in those scripted mo­ments. But Trump’s fre­quent un-

scripted mo­ments are of­ten drown­ing them out — di­vert­ing at­ten­tion from his eco­nomic mes­sage and alien­at­ing women and mi­nori­ties with early vot­ing al­ready un­der­way in some states.

The Fri­day night speech was the lat­est ex­am­ple of Trump’s sharp­ened fo­cus on the econ­omy — and his Demo­cratic op­po­nent’s short­com­ings — as he treks across the Mid­west­ern bat­tle­grounds he needs to be­come the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States.

But on Twit­ter and in in­ter­views, the for­mer real­ity tele­vi­sion star this week fu­eled a self-in­flicted po­lit­i­cal firestorm af­ter an un­der­whelm­ing de­bate per­for­mance by at­tack­ing a for­mer Miss Uni­verse, first seiz­ing on her weight and then call­ing on the world to view her

“sex tape.”

“He’s not go­ing to change. This is who he re­ally is,” said for­mer Min­nesota Con­gress­man Vin We­ber, a Repub­li­can. “It’s ridicu­lous to even ar­gue this, but if he could stay on mes­sage, which is to say if he could be some­body else, he could win.”

Life­long Repub­li­can loy­al­ists across the coun­try are be­yond frus­trated that Trump’s du­el­ing per­sonas ap­pear to be jeop­ar­diz­ing the GOP’s chance to take back the White House. De­spite Trump’s faults, Clin­ton re­mains deeply un­pop­u­lar and un­trusted by a large seg­ment of the elec­torate.

Yet there is lit­tle room in the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion for Clin­ton’s faults when Trump tweets about sex tapes.

Ohio GOP Chair­man Matt Borges calls Clin­ton a “liar” and says she de­serves to lose. “And just when it’s look­ing like it’s a good bet that she will lose, we’re talk­ing about things that I be­lieve don’t help us win,” he

says.

There is lit­tle sign that Trump’s ap­proach will help him ex­pand his sup­port be­yond the white work­ing­class vot­ers who cram into his ral­lies. Dur­ing Mon­day’s open­ing de­bate, the New York bil­lion­aire said African Amer­i­can vot­ers are “liv­ing in hell.” And his four-day feud with for­mer Miss Uni­verse Ali­cia Machado, a Venezue­lan who is now an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen, threat­ens to push his al­ready-low stand­ing among women and His­pan­ics even lower.

Trump is also gam­bling he can help him­self by high­light­ing Clin­ton’s role in her hus­band’s in­fi­deli­ties.

“Hil­lary was an en­abler,” Trump told the New York Times on Fri­day. “And she at­tacked the women who Bill Clin­ton mis­treated af­ter­ward. I think it’s a se­ri­ous prob­lem for them, and it’s some­thing that I’m con­sid­er­ing talk­ing about more in the near fu­ture.”

That’s even as Trump’s ac­knowl­edged his own mar­i­tal in­fi­deli­ties, al­though he tried to draw a dis­tinc­tion with Bill Clin­ton. “I wasn’t pres­i­dent of the United States,” he told the Times when asked about his af­fair with Marla Maples when he was mar­ried to Ivana Trump. “I don’t talk about it.”

Machado took to Face­book to say Trump’s tweets were part of a pat­tern of “de­mor­al­iz­ing women,” call­ing them “cheap lies with bad in­ten­tions.” Planned Par­ent­hood said it showed that Trump’s “misog­yny knows no bounds.” And Clin­ton said they showed anew why some­one with Trump’s tem­per­a­ment “should not be any­where near the nu­clear codes.”

Trump again took to Twit­ter on Satur­day, this time to com­plain about his mi­cro­phone dur­ing the first

de­bate five days ago. The Com­mis­sion of Pres­i­den­tial De­bates ac­knowl­edged on Fri­day that there was an is­sue with Trump’s mi­cro­phone, which was qui­eter than Clin­ton’s at times.

“The so-called Com­mis­sion on Pres­i­den­tial De­bates ad­mit­ted to us that the DJT au­dio & sound level was very bad. So why didn’t they fix it?” Trump tweeted.

Even Trump’s most vo­cal al­lies seemed at a loss for words.

“He’s be­ing Trump. I don’t have any com­ment be­yond that,” said for­mer House Speaker Newt Gin­grich, a top sup­porter. Gen­er­ally chatty and oc­ca­sion­ally crit­i­cal of Trump, Gin­grich said tersely that Trump some­times does “strange things,” but that Clin­ton lies. “I’ll let you de­cide which is worse for Amer­ica.”

JOHN LOCHER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump meets with sup­port­ers af­ter a rally, Fri­day in Novi, Mich.

JOHN LOCHER — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump takes the stage at a rally, Fri­day in Novi, Mich.

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