The Corner

Defining Being on Message Down

Donald Trump made pro forma endorsements of Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte on Friday, which has led his supporters to argue his campaign is back on track. It does show that Trump can sometimes be forced to do things he doesn’t want to–the Pence pick was another example–but this wasn’t exactly a watershed event. His original non-endorsements were an exercise in pointlessly destructive pique, and quickly backtracking was literally the least he could do. But every time he reads from a script his boosters hopefully pronounce it a major turning point (presumably there will be more of this after tomorrow’s economic speech). 

The problem for Trump now is that his numbers on suitability to be president are extremely weak. I think it’s pretty likely that Hillary’s current bounce settles down some, but the Trump campaign has its work cut out for it, to say the least, trying to reverse his poor ratings on presidential attributes. This isn’t a matter of focusing on the issues or giving a few speeches, it has to do with his public persona, which he has cultivated for a very long time and would be difficult to change even if he wanted to. Obviously a couple of endorsements of key Republicans, which should have been routine, aren’t going to make much of a difference. 

   

Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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