Donald Trump is playing us for fools. By breaking nearly every ‘rule’ about running a successful campaign, he’s managed to increase his lead in the polls to 32%.
Meanwhile, almost every political pundit who has predicted Trump’s immediate demise has been proven wrong. Trump is here, he’s staying, and he’s a powerful force.
But He’s Not Invincible
The appeal of Trump is that finally someone is saying what most everyone else has been thinking. And for a lot of us, what we’ve been thinking doesn’t sound all that good when we say them aloud.
Despite Trump’s seemingly Teflon exterior, he’s not invincible. Even though he’s leading in the polls, he’s still highly unlikely to win the nomination with his high unfavorable ratings. When other candidates begin to drop out (I’m looking at you, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal), their supporters are likely to coalesce around other candidates.
But why wait until the primaries? Here are 5 things other candidates need to do right away to stop Trump.
1. Hammer His Crony Capitalism
Donald Trump is a crony capitalist. During the August 6th debate, Trump said, “Most of the people on stage, I’ve given to. A lot of money.” (here’s how much to the people on that stage received from Trump)
This is crony capitalism at its worst. Of course, Trump’s brash admittance of his crony capitalism is one of the reasons he’s successful. Supporters simply say, “he’s just using the system that’s in place! ”
But it’s an area where Trump is vulnerable to attack.
2. Force Him On Specifics
Donald Trump speaks in generic platitudes. “I’ll make this country great again!” “I’ll know so much about the military your head will spin.”
It makes for a great soundbite.
Unfortunately, however, Trump has little to say that is specific, and when he is pressed on details, Trump can get squirrelly (like “big league”, as Trump might say).
Trump got “big league” squirrelly with Hew Hewitt. Rather than answer a tough question honestly, Trump followed his usual formula:
- Deflect: “I thought you were talking about Kurds”
- Made up an answer: “they’ll all be gone by the time I’m president”
- Complained that he was being treated poorly: “I’m not interested in gotcha questions”,
- Insult the questioner: “he’s a third rate radio announcer”
- Then lie: “it was all ‘do you know this one or that one'”
So hammer him on specifics. When he deflects to criticizing, hammer him again. It’s time we started to hear some concrete plans from the frontrunner.
3. Occupy Trump with Counterpunching
If there is one thing Trump loves to do, it’s to get in a fight. It gets him press, and he’s really good at it. He loves it so much, he just hopes someone insults him, like Ben Carson:
“Well, I’m much better as a counterpuncher, so I’d rather have, and I’m hoping for Ben to really hit me at some point, because I love to counterpunch”
There is no doubt that Trump is great on the counter-attack. His attacks on Lindsey Graham will go down as one of the great moments in presidential history.
But for as much as Trump is great at the counterpunch, that act wears thin over time.
More important, Trump has a tendency to cross the line. Force him to do more counterpunching and he’ll eventually cross the line.
When Trump Crosses the Line, His Polls Dip
The only times when Trump has seen a decline in the polls is when he crosses over the line. When Trump said that McCain was not a war hero, it impacted his poll numbers. When Trump attacked Megyn Kelly, his numbers among women dipped.
The fact is, Donald Trump is the ultimate troll, and he’s good at it. But he can also be trolled, and the Republican candidates should do just that. Prod him, poke him, get him to say those things he’ll eventually regret and explain away.
“Mr. Trump made Megyn Kelly look really bad––she was a mess with her anger and totally caught off guard. Mr. Trump said “blood was coming out of her eyes and whatever” meaning nose, but wanted to move on to more important topics. Only a deviant would think anything else.”
4. Conservative Women Need to Attack Trump
Conservatives need to encourage conservative women to go after Trump.
No supporter of Trump can deny that Trump sounds like a misogynist. Given Trump’s incessant desire to counterpunch, especially against women, will solidify him as a mysogynist.
It has, in fact, just shown itself again yesterday when he claimed Carly Fiorina couldn’t be president because she has an ugly face:
Look at that face!” he cries. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” The laughter grows halting and faint behind him. “I mean, she’s a woman, and I’m not s’posedta say bad things, but really, folks, come on. Are we serious?
But Trump doesn’t apologize, he just lies about what he said:
“Probably I did say something like that about Carly,” Trump said. “I’m talking about persona. I’m not talking about look.”
Do you believe him? “Look at that face!” means “persona”?
For conservatives who do not support Trump, this is the template to defeat Trump. Let Trump be Trump.
5. Ask Voters Who Trump Stands For
Voters need to ask who Trump thinks is important. He claims that he wants to make America great again, but why, and for whom?
Trump admits to being a crony capitalist for his own gain. He admits “taking advantage of the law” for his own gain. So what makes voters think he wouldn’t use the presidency for his own gain?
I have never gone bankrupt … Four times I’ve taken advantage of these laws.
Evidently, this selfish use of the laws was OK because the lenders were the really bad people:
Let me tell you about the lenders. First of all these lenders aren’t babies. These are total killers. These are not the nice sweet little people that you think, OK? You know. You are living in a work of the make-believe Chris if you want to know the truth.
Hello kettle, meet pot. He may see these lenders as “killers”, but who was killed in that transaction?
How do we know Trump won’t use the Whitehouse – take ‘advantage of’ the Whitehouse – to build a company that he’s really proud of?
Trump Can Be Defeated, But Don’t Wait
The worst strategy conservatives can employ would be a “sit back and wait” strategy. Trump needs to be engaged before he takes out every candidate and completely tricks Americans into the notion that he will finally work for others rather than work for himself.