How the Trump Campaign Imploded

Donald Trump created a lot of headlines today with this tweet:

If what we’ve been seeing so far in this campaign season is a “shackled” Trump, all we can say in response is, “Oh my!”

While the Trump campaign seems to be careening towards an implosion, it might be helpful to take a look at how they got there. This didn’t just spring up out of whole cloth. There were steps they took along the way that brought them to this point.

A big turning point in Trump’s campaign was the change of leadership that happened when Paul Manafort was fired and Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Bannon and David Bossie were brought on board. Each of the three new people had their own particular focus.

Initially a lot of the news was about how Conway was working to better position Trump with suburban white women. That was when Trump started reading prepared speeches off of a teleprompter and initiated his so-called “outreach” to African Americans – which was all directed at white people. At that point, the press was consumed with the both-sider-ism of raising “questions” about the Clinton Foundation.

That approach seemed to be having a bit of an impact when someone (we don’t know who) decided to Rick-roll the press with Trump’s announcement about his birtherism. Not only did that showcase Trump’s racism and constant need to lie, it inspired the media to take a look at how he was manipulating them. That led to the launch of multiple investigations into Trump’s foundation, business dealings and taxes. And it put Trump on the defensive for the first debate.

When Clinton name-dropped Alicia Machado during that first debate, we witnessed the specter of Trump attacking a Latina for her weight, sexuality and heritage – including a middle-of-the-night tweet rage. We’ll never know if there was any connection, but the next event was the release of a video/audio tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault.

That brought the likes of David Bossie to the fore. He is one of the original members of the “vast right wing conspiracy” that has been going after the Clintons since their days in Arkansas. Here is how Conway described Bossie’s role in the campaign.

Bossie will also work on crafting attacks against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, mining past controversies involving her and former president Bill Clinton, and cultivating Trump’s bond with conservative activists.

Thus, we saw the spectacle of Trump appearing with Bill and Hillary Clinton’s accusers prior to the second debate and his attacks on them during the proceedings. When you read that part about “cultivating Trump’s bond with conservative activists,” think about Laura Ingraham’s response to the focus on the Clinton’s past during the debate.

To summarize: “We’ve been waiting for a Republican to beat up the Clintons for 30 years.” In other words, it’s time to rev up the Clinton haters. The candidate himself weighed in on that one last night.

Trump warned against the release of more damaging tapes of his past comments, threatening to continue attacking the Clintons over former President Bill Clinton’s alleged infidelities and Hillary Clinton’s response to those women’s accusations if more such tapes emerge.

The third person of this trinity – Stephen Bannon – is stepping up to the plate now. As Martin just wrote, the battle is now turning against establishment Republicans. As the former chair of Breitbart News, that is his specialty area.

Going forward, it seems that the entire campaign has dropped the idea of reaching out to college-educated white women. So I’m not sure where that leaves Conway these days. Given her history, she’s no stranger to Clinton hate or anti-establishment sentiment. But I suspect the boys of the campaign are in charge now and ready to let ‘er rip. This is the campaign of Trump, Bannon and Bossie now. Guess how that’s working out for them.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.