Scott has written about President Trump’s rally in Florida with which he kicked off his reelection campaign. Scott pointed to this quote from Trump:
Our radical Democrat opponents are driven by hatred, prejudice and rage. They want to destroy you and they want to destroy our country as we know it. Not acceptable. It’s not going to happen.
This statement, I feel sure, resonated with those who attended the rally. I also believe that there is some truth to the statement.
The problem is that Trump’s war cry isn’t what the voters he likely needs to win want to hear. Yes, it will energize his core supporters, but may well put off the voters he needs to get close to 50 percent of the vote.
Think back to Trump’s acceptance speech at the Republican Convention in 2016. It did not contain the same kind of broad demonizing rhetoric Trump served up yesterday in Orlando. He accused Hillary Clinton of “bad instincts and bad judgment,” not of wanting to destroy America.
Trump thus displayed good instincts and judgment. Most voters didn’t want to hear Hillary accused of being anti-American.
Perhaps Trump plans to proceed on dual rhetorical tracks. When speaking to core supporters, he’ll talk about how the Democrats want to destroy America; when speaking to the nation as a whole, as when he accepts the nomination, he’ll eschew this kind of off-putting talk.
But the mainstream media will trumpet any statement Trump makes that it thinks will alienate swing voters. Thus, I question whether he can succeed with a dual track approach.
During yesterday’s rally, Trump also said:
They went after my family, my business, my finances, my employees, almost everyone that I have ever known or worked with, but they are really going after you. That’s what it is all about. It’s not about us. It’s about you. . . .
I doubt Trump believes the last part of this statement. For Trump, it’s always about Trump.
That’s why, I fear, he may be unable to wage his campaign as other than a revenge war against the Democrats who “went after [his] family, [his business],” etc. Suburbanites in Michigan and Pennsylvania don’t want a war of revenge and aren’t likely to agree that Joe Biden (if he’s the Democratic nominee) is out to destroy America as we know it.
But Trump must be Trump, and given the garbage he’s had to endure from Democrats, being Trump may entail a reckless, sub-optimal kind of campaign.