If Clinton’s great challenge in the election ahead is to reduce her disapproval ratings, Trump appears to be playing right into her hands with last week’s attacks over Clinton’s use of the so-called “women’s card.”
“Trump makes her a sympathetic character by saying things like that,” Martin says. “There are plenty of reasons to critique her without going there. I went into my class Wednesday, where there are plenty of women in the room who hate Hillary Clinton, and I had some walk up and say they’d vote for Clinton now.
“If Clinton is going to be able to reconstitute the Obama coalition, it will depend on firing up the base and that gets easier every time Trump makes such a blatantly incendiary attack like that.”
Despite the downsides to attacking Clinton along gender lines, Trump stuck to the attack through the week. Martin says this stubbornness is nothing new for Trump and, though it didn’t sink him in the Republican primary, it could be his undoing in the general election.
“Trump doesn’t like to be wrong and he does not walk comments back,” Martin says. “Most politicians will say something, get criticized, and then walk it back and say ‘No, this is what I meant.’ Trump doesn’t do that, he doubles down, and now he’s ended up in a situation where even conservative women are saying, ‘You can’t say that.’”
Despite that, Martin still expects Trump to beat out Cruz and Fiorina – his recently announced running mate – in Indiana this week, and that’s largely because of Boehner.
“Fiorina is a great attack dog and Trump has a history of not being able to resist Fiorina’s attacks, but this time he resisted the bait,” Martin says. “And then Boehner came out of nowhere and buried the Fiorina story by calling Cruz ‘Lucifer,’ and all of a sudden you’re reminded that, despite Cruz’s attempts to brand himself as the ‘anti-Trump’ people want to work with, he is loathed inside Washington by people who have worked with him.”
Martin is an SMU assistant professor of Communication Studies in the Meadows School of the Arts. She can discuss:
- economic messages in political campaigns
- presidential campaign strategy