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My Turn 8-28
Whither Donald Trump?
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Following a frightful fortnight in the media and the polls, Donald Trump appears to be making a modest comeback. Whether he is turning the corner, or merely circling the block, is anybody’s guess.
What bemuses me is how a man who has long boasted about being lord and master of “The Art of the Deal,” has been considerably less than masterful in making the transition from the Primary campaign cycle to the General Election campaign cycle.
During the primaries, Trump not only mowed down his formidable field of 16 GOP foes, he also garnered some 14 million votes along the way. The latter is reportedly a record for a primary season. From the day he announced his bid for the White House, Trump has touted his success as an entrepreneur par excellence and a political outsider, to boot. Surviving gaffe after gaffe earned him the sobriquet, “Teflon Trump” from others and me.
But that was then and this is now. Trump’s historic success in the primaries doesn’t cut much ice in the general election campaign. He’s already learned that the hard way. Or has he? Given his record of insults toward people of practically all races, creeds, ethnicities, genders, and national origins, a healthy dose of skepticism on the “new and improved Donald Trump” is certainly justified.
To overcome his detractors, including many in his own party, and to sway enough other voters to swing his way, Mr. Trump will have to move way beyond his base. Moreover, he will have to state and make the case he, warts and all, is a better bet for president than Hillary Clinton.
Despite being political polar opposites, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton share the dubious distinction of being among the least liked party nominees in American presidential history. Hardly a motto to run on, but a good one to run from.
At this point, most of the pollsters and pundits view Trump’s chances of winning the White House somewhere between “slim and none.” Sure, he’s facing a steep, uphill battle, but he’s confounded the so-called “political experts” before -- and he could do so again.
The battle between Trump and Clinton reminds me of the story of two hikers named Bubba and Bo, who were taking a break in the woods when they saw a big bear rumbling their way.
Bubba panicked, but Bo reached calmly into his rucksack, retrieved his Nike running shoes and quickly laced them on. Bubba shouted, “Are you crazy, Bo? You can’t outrun that bear!” Bo replied, “I don’t have to outrun that bear. I just have to outrun you!” And off he ran.
Like Bo, Donald and Hillary don’t have to outrun some mythical bear, donkey or elephant.
Each of them just has to outrun the other one. With barely 70 days remaining before the voters go to the polls that really count -- in 50 states and the District of Columbia, anything could happen to help or hinder either candidate.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at