Ivanka Trump introduces her father at the Republican National Convention
Ivanka’s dad for president!
Now that’s a man a lot of people could get behind. Ivanka Trump’s introduction of her father Thursday night was almost enough to forget what the real candidate is like. If Donald Trump had given Ivanka’s speech, he would have come out of his convention on a roll.
Instead, anyone who thought this might be the debut of a new, improved fall-campaign Donald Trump was sorely disappointed. He sounded only a half tick more presidential than he usually does, filling the longest presidential nomination acceptance speech in at least 48 years (and perhaps ever) with his familiar foreboding, dark, exclusionary rhetoric.
It was a huge missed opportunity. Voters are just begging for a chance to vote for someone other than Hillary Clinton and the man Ivanka portrayed is what they’re looking for.
Donald Trump, Ivanka said, is the people’s champion. To Ivanka, he is the people’s nominee. He is a hard worker. A brilliant businessman. He cares about his employees, his family and the country. He marries vision and passion with work ethic. He reaches out to help others who are less fortunate in a personal, compassionate, anonymous way. He cares deeply about things like affordable childcare, equal pay for equal work and student debt.
Sign us up!
Then the real Donald Trump took the stage. To be sure, he touched on some of those same themes, and that’s when he was most effective.
He spoke of the laid-off factory workers, forgotten men and women. “These are people who work hard but no longer have a voice. I AM YOUR VOICE,” he said.
Clinton wants her supporters to pledge, “I’m with her.” “I choose to recite a different pledge,” Trump said. “My pledge reads: ‘I’m with you, the American people.’”
That’s powerful stuff, because it taps into many voters’ sentiment that the system – from Wall Street to Washington to the workplace – is rigged against them. They are hungry for a champion, someone in their corner.
But that’s not how Trump spent most of his time. He returned to the familiar themes that have made him the most unpopular presidential candidate in U.S. history (with Clinton close behind): Primarily, branding all foreigners as violent and dangerous. In a rapidly diversifying country, Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric, and thousands of delegates chanting “Build the wall! Build the wall!” (or “Lock her up! Lock her up!”) shrink the party’s reach. Everyone agrees we should be a “law-and-order” country, but Trump’s delivery of that message sounds threatening and makes him appear unappreciative of the complex tensions currently dividing blacks and whites, civilians and police.
Trump needs swing voters to carry battleground states, and Thursday night’s speech was unlikely to attract them.
He scored points with his assessment of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy dossier, because Obama has tripped on that stage and there are so many global hotspots right now.
After a week, though, in which speaker after speaker decried the nation’s $19 trillion debt, Trump’s budget proposals don’t come close to adding up. He boasted about proposing the largest tax cuts of any presidential candidate while simultaneously promising to beef up the military, care for veterans and invest heavily in roads, bridges and other infrastructure. Not once did he mention the country’s biggest fiscal crisis: An unsustainable path on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.
This week’s Republican National Convention held promise for the GOP and it featured strong performances, including from Mike Pence, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump. A majority of Americans might get behind them. But then the candidate himself takes the stage, and it all comes crashing down.