With negative perceptions hardened, his late adjustments on policy and rhetoric could sway too few people to matter
(Politico: Eli Stokols) — Donald Trump and his new team think they have 71 days to turn this campaign around. They’re wrong.
The Republican nominee — three months after clinching the nomination — has begun frantically trying to reposition himself in the past week, installing a new campaign manager and controversial CEO to help him escape the straitjacket that his 14 months of incendiary comments and hard-edged policy positions have him in.
His task, GOP insiders readily concede, seems close to impossible. In an interview Wednesday night, Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, recognized how long it may take to improve the public’s negative perceptions of the GOP nominee, likening her turnaround project to turning a tanker.
Trump may not have that kind of time. Early voting begins in 26 days in Minnesota and in 32 other states soon after that. And already, as summer inches to its end, 90 percent of Americans say they’ve decided. For all the televised daily drama this race has provided, the final outcome itself is shaping up to be less dramatic than any presidential election since 1984.
“Kellyanne is good at this, but she’s got a very damaged candidate and it’s very late in the game,” said Tony Fratto, a GOP operative in Washington and former deputy press secretary to President George W. Bush. “I think it’s too late, in fact. I don’t believe he can change. All of this is trying to trick voters into thinking there is a better Donald Trump out there. There is no better Donald Trump.”
Although Trump has been seemingly slow to realize it, the more than $2 billion in free media he rode to the GOP nomination was simultaneously hardening the broader country’s negative view of Trump just as it was endearing him to the conservative base.
The cascade of Trump-created controversies following the conventions that precipitated Conway’s hiring appear to have irrevocably damaged his credibility as a plausible commander in chief and could prove to be the turning point in the general election itself.