A "Presidential" Speech

Trump thumps Hillary: looking more presidential than ever.

Reaction from conservative talk radio hosts to Donald Trump’s rhetorical blows against Hillary Clinton on Wednesday was instantaneous. Even before the speech concluded, Rush Limbaugh said his email in-box was swamped with overwhelmingly positive responses. “This is what we have been waiting for,” he said characterized the overall theme.

These conservatives are tired of split the difference, go along to get along, reach out to the ”other side,” kumbayah rhetoric which accomplishes little and which they believe Democrats never do. They want to win, not just the next election, but the argument. They are not intimidated by the “first woman” to be nominated by a major party. Trump’s claim that Clinton is a “liar” and “corrupt” and a “failure” at every position she has held resonates with much of the conservative base.

Trump’s speech, which he read from a Teleprompter, was measured and lacking the off-the-cuff bombast and repetition that has characterized most of his speeches. In short, it was what many of his supporters and critics have been asking for. It seemed “presidential.”

Trump’s charge that the political and economic system is “rigged” will resonate with a lot of voters who are unemployed, or underemployed, possibly including some Bernie Sanders voters to whom Trump openly appealed for support.

Trump made it clear that not only Hillary Clinton’s record will be a target during the general election campaign, but also what he regards as her integrity and character deficit. He called her “a world-class liar,” something presidential candidates usually couch in much nicer language, such as “my opponent has a minimum high regard for the truth.”

There was also a dash of an ingredient we have heretofore not seen in Trump: humility. I know, if you fake humility you can fake anything, but consider this line: “I love what I do, and I am grateful beyond words to the nation that has allowed me to do it.” That is almost, dare I say, Reaganesque?

Expect to hear this oneagain during the campaign: “Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her.’ You know what my response to that is? I’m with you: the American people.”

Trump issued a laundry list of what he said proves Clinton’s corruption, including gifts to the Clinton Foundation from regimes that execute gays. This time he didn’t mention his frequent promise to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, he pivoted and put the open border problem in a way that might catch the attention of a broader section of the electorate: “For the amount of money Hillary Clinton would like to spend on refugees, we could rebuild every inner city in America.” That is not a pledge most Republican voters are used to hearing since Republicans usually write-off the inner cities and minority voters as unobtainable.

This was Trump’s best speech so far and if it filters down to what Limbaugh calls “low information voters” and strikes a chord it might lower his currently high negatives (Clinton’s already high negatives, which are lower than Trump’s, might be driven up by this line of attack).

He included more substance in this speech than any other he has made. There is much more needed and some of the sources he quotes may not stand up to fact-check scrutiny, but if Trump’s campaign turns around, this speech will be seen as the starting point.

USA Today URL: 
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/columnist/2016/06/23/trump-thumps-hillary-cal-thomas/86250812/