Conway’s Attempt to Create An Alternative Trump Fails

It’s not news that Donald Trump grabbed all the headlines yesterday. But in doing so, he demonstrated something that had been building since he brought on new management a couple of weeks ago: this is a campaign in disarray. We’ve seen signs of that with scheduled and then cancelled speeches, conflicting statements about the candidate’s policy on various issues, and his muddled “outreach” to people of color (not to mention their completely non-existent ground game). While it is still impossible to know what kind of internal battles are actually going on – yesterday we got a pretty good glimpse of what is happening.

Trump had been scheduled to give a speech to clarify his immigration proposals in Arizona last night. At the last minute, the campaign announced that he would be traveling to Mexico beforehand to meet with President Pena Nieto. After meeting, they both gave speeches. Some media outlets jumped on Trump’s presentation and tone to suggest that he was “presidential.” Others commented that he came off as subdued and even lethargic.

On the whole, when it comes to Latino voters, Jorge Ramos summed up what a lot of them saw in all of that.

But just as African Americans were never the target of Trump’s “outreach” attempts to them, it became obvious that garnering votes from Latinos was not the point of yesterday’s events. More on that later.

I’m going to let Josh Mashall describe what happened at Trump’s speech in Arizona last night.

More than anything, perhaps the most chilling part of this day is the contrast between the two men – a measured, calm statesman figure we saw this afternoon and this railing, angry demagogue figure who captured the emotional tenor of a Klan rally. As I said, the ability to shift from one persona to the other is a sign of danger in itself…

The debate about immigration has become so polarized that it can be difficult to remember that there are reasonable policy questions to be debated and wrestled with over the terms, scope and numbers of immigrants the country should absorb at any one time. But what we saw tonight isn’t a tense version of that debate. It really has nothing to do with that debate at all. This is a blood soaked white nationalist politics that has caught fire with a significant minority of the electorate.

The Trump we saw in Mexico appears to be the one that Kellyanne Conway is trying to create. To get an idea of what she was up to with that, take a look at this tweet.

Here are the first two paragraphs of that article:

Donald J. Trump made an audacious attempt on Wednesday to remake his image on the divisive issue of immigration, shelving his plan to deport 11 million undocumented people and arguing that a Trump administration and Mexico would secure the border together.

In a spirited bid for undecided American voters to see him anew, Mr. Trump swept into Mexico City to make overtures to a nation he has repeatedly denigrated, then flew to Phoenix to outline in his usual bullying tone his latest priorities on immigration.

But she wasn’t as interested in highlighting the third paragraph.

Yet the juxtaposition of Mr. Trump’s dual performances was so jarring that his true vision and intentions on immigration were hard to discern. He displayed an almost unrecognizable demeanor during his afternoon in Mexico, appearing measured and diplomatic, while hours later he took the stage at his campaign rally and denounced illegal immigrants on the whole as a criminally minded and dangerous group that sows terror in communities and commits murders, rapes and other heinous violence.

Who was Conway’s target audience for that trip to Mexico? As I stated above, it wasn’t Latino voters in this country. She made that clear when she retweeted this about the speech in Mexico with the simple message of “It is fabulous indeed.”

The target audience for Conway’s Trump creation yesterday is the same one they were targeting with his so-called “outreach” to African Americans: suburban white women in swing states. I’ve gotta give Conway credit – that is not a bad strategy. It just has one major flaw…the candidate himself. That’s the one we saw on display in Arizona last night. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that he is the one who will outlast Conway’s creation over the two remaining months in this election. As we’ve seen now, Conway hasn’t been any more successful at keeping him under wraps than his previous campaign manager Paul Manafort was.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.