April 23, 2016

On his "With All Due Respect" show yesterday, Mark "Great News for John McCain" Halperin went on yet another apology tour for how Donald Trump will be able to pull one over on the national electorate in the general election.

On the clip above they are discussing the remarks of Trump aide Paul Manafort, who told the Republican Rules committee that Donald Trump was for sure going to Etch-a-Sketch his image and reset himself into something more "Presidential" (i.e. electable) for the general election.

Donald Trump has a different persona in private than he does in public and he'll shift his personality to appeal to women, minorities and other voters in a general election, his top aide told a meeting of the Republican National Committee on Thursday. Via NBC News, emphasis added:

In the meeting, Manafort cast Trump as playing a part aimed at winning over his core supporters.

"He [Trump] gets it," Manafort said, and "the part that he's been playing is evolving into the part that now you've been expecting, but he wasn't ready for because he had to first feed the first phase."

Manafort insisted that Trump's deep unpopularity nationwide, fueled by months of unapologetic bluster on the campaign trail, would be easily remedied when the candidate shifts gears. In contrast, Hillary Clinton's negatives are character driven and baked-in, Manafort argued.

"The negatives will come down, the image is going to change, but Clinton is still going to be 'Crooked Hillary,' and that's what you're going to be seeing a lot more of."

Manafort's utter contempt for voters is on full display here, and is typical of Republican Presidential campaigns. It's hard to say whether they are fooling their base or the general public in these cases, and that's the whole point. Manafort is saying what every candidate in the GOP has done since at least Nixon -- play up the racism and xenophobia to fool the base in the primaries, then forget all that and become kinder and gentler to fool the general electorate in November. As long as you win, who cares who it is you lied to?

But Mark Halperin thinks Donald Trump has two helpings of pizzazz that will make that recipe work this time. First, Halperin thinks "the private Trump is somebody who I think people would feel more comfortable with as President than the way he often performs in public." Well, that's nice, too bad that private Trump isn't running for President.

But in a real "great news for John McCain" moment, Halperin shovels this at his audience:

Trump has the capacity to surprise. Trump can start behaving differently, and people will be like, "wow, that's different." ...I don't think Hillary Clinton has that capacity.

John Heilemann keeps it safe for TV by calling Manafort's attempt at re-branding Trump, "almost total Bull-pucky."

The problem for Trump, is the positions on issues that he has taken give him big problems with large segments of the electorate, including Hispanics and women. Those are issues. Those aren't about personality. Those are things he has said that he stands for. Those are going to be problematic, because the Clinton campaign will not let him just shift positions willy-nilly going forward.

In other words, the Democratic Campaign Committee already has the 30-second ads in the can -- video of Donald Trump rallies promising that all those Mexican rapists will be kept out with a wall paid for by Mexico. And the Stop Trump people have already made the woman voter ad:

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