Hillary Clinton should follow the advice of Fox TV host Megyn Kelly in how to deal with Donald Trump when Clinton faces Trump in the General Election.
Kelly wisely chose not to respond to Trump’s crude references to her bodily functions after an early Presidential Debate.
In a recent TIME interview, Kelly said, “If I came out there and started fighting Trump, he would have just turned around and said, she can’t be fair, right? At times, I think it drove him nuts that I wasn’t responding. But that was clearly the right course to pursue.”
It is clear from observing Trump who has blown up every rule of political etiquette in his onslaught toward the nomination—and especially toward women— that the one thing he will not tolerate is to be ignored.
When he attacks he expects to be attacked back and his manhood appears bruised if he feels he has not hit the mark.
A street fighter wants to see blood drawn and when one is not man (or woman) enough to strike back it is viewed as a sign of weakness. Trump appears thrown off balance when all he gets is a passive reaction. This invites escalation of the aggression to get the desired result, but it may only compound the offensive conduct evoking sympathy for the intended target.
Of course Trump can crow that each opponent daring enough to take him on during the primaries—and very few even tried—became just more road kill.
The only woman candidate to suffer his insults was Carly Fiorina who did her gender no favor when she caved under Trump’s famous assault on her looks, and there was hardly any noticeable chivalry among the men who shared the platform.
However, as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz learned to their dismay there is little to suggest that wallowing in the mud bath with Trump improves one’s prospects.
John Kasich, who more than any others resisted the temptation to slug it out but even so failed to gain any traction may have preserved some chance of becoming Trump’s running mate by restraining himself leading some to speculate that was the plan all along.
Chris Christie, considered the toughest counter-puncher in the field, roughed up the Manhattan brawler, but has since repudiated his own criticisms of Trump and has been openly auditioning for second place on the ticket.
For nomination purposes, the time to bring down Trump for his repugnant conduct is long past. The question now is can Trump’s unwavering “no limits” philosophy continue to reap rewards, and what should Hillary Clinton, his likely opponent, do to counteract it.
On the assumption that Trump will see little reason to moderate the alpha dog behavior that has worked so effectively, Clinton can anticipate an all-out assault on her character, her personality, her family name, her history and even her grandmotherly looks.
The temptation to retaliate will be high. The extent to which she will exercise restraint could have a major impact on the final outcome.
Since Trump has a predisposition to go for the jugular and his handlers realize he could be badly out-classed in an issue-oriented campaign, he will do everything he can to get under her skin.
Clinton will need to shore up her image with the one group that somewhat surprisingly she is having the most trouble connecting: Women!
The polls show that many of them are single and college-educated white women who voted overwhelmingly for her husband but have found it difficult to transfer that affection.
She faces an even stiffer challenge among the non-college educated white women as well as recent college grads who, just like many of their male counterparts, are not sharing in the resurgent economy and are not convinced she has the solutions.
This is one reason Bernie Sanders continues to win primaries.
The good news for Clinton is that Trump is even less popular among the white college-educated women segment and has almost no following among blacks and Hispanics.
An April 2016 Gallup poll found that 70% of women held an unfavorable view of Trump. According to the same poll, only 37% of women view Clinton unfavorably.
In a hypothetical November match-up between Trump and Clinton, among registered women voters, Clinton leads Trump 58 – 31 percent, according to a CBS News national poll this month. In comparison, 42 percent of men would cast their ballots for Clinton versus 50 percent that would support Trump.
Trump has already done grievous damage to himself in the female population for which he will have great difficulty being absolved no matter how many times he professes high regard for women. Trump: ‘Nobody has more respect for women than me’ | The Hill.
However, those willing to forgive him mainly out of a profound distaste for Clinton do not necessarily represent a majority of women who will be voting in the general election and will demand more than facile throwaway lines.
Clinton will have no trouble showcasing her championship of women’s, family and children’s issues as a Senator and Secretary.
Granted, some feminists are still angered that she did not just pack up and leave the White House after her husband’s dalliance with “that woman” and lying about it.
Others put the onus on him alone. But by most measures his popularity among Democrats continues to soar and the bigger issue for the Clinton campaign will be exerting controls on his irrepressible combativeness when his wife comes under fierce attack.
Either way, it is Hillary Clinton’s qualifications and fitness to be president that matter not that of her husband who passed the test twice.
Trump has already signaled that he plans on pummeling Clinton in presidential debates for serving as an “enabler” of the former president’s misconduct. That line of attack will have little credibility coming from one whose sexist remarks border on misogyny and has openly flaunted his obsession with numerous women to a degree never witnessed in a presidential aspirant.
Trump dismisses all these contradictions in the usual way by ignoring their existence or presenting evidence that his critics are, as usual, all wrong.
Trump boasts in his book, “The Art of the Deal,” that he hired “a lot of women for top jobs, and they’re among my best people.” And he has gathered testimonials from some of them, which support that statement.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t square with his long ago debate exchange with Megyn Kelly when she famously questioned him about calling women “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.” His answer was less than reassuring.
The fact that Hillary Clinton is poised to become the first woman candidate of a major political party for the presidency in the nation’s history is in itself a singular feat.
Still, women do not vote as one monolithic bloc deliverable to the least unacceptable candidate and many other factors will likely determine who gets to claim the presidential crown.
Donald Trump has also broken new ground as the first candidate of his party who will claim the nomination despite its overwhelming opposition to his candidacy and unpopularity across a broad segment of the electorate, and particularly women.
Can Trump win by heaping insults upon a woman candidate and can Hillary fend them off successfully and avoid losing by focusing instead on an issue offensive that will also bring large numbers of doubting women and wary middle class voters to her side?