Trump’s Mexico trip photographs well but creates whiplash

SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the current state of the presidential race.

“Just when one candidate seems to get some momentum, voters
are reminded they hate both of these people for different reasons.”


DALLAS (SMU)SMU experts are available for interview on all things related to the current state of the presidential race. A full list of available faculty and their areas of expertise is available here.




On the differing language between Donald Trump’s statements in Mexico and Phoenix…

  • “Trump is nothing if not mercurial, so we have become accustomed to whiplash coming from Donald Trump. It’s interesting that he chose to go to Mexico in the first place. Certainly, of all the places around the world he might have used as an arena for establishing his foreign policy competency, he could have chosen a place he would have gotten a friendlier reception. Trump is trying to play this delicate game of backing away from some of his over-the-top statements about immigration and Mexico while at the same time keeping enough of that message to keep his core supporters onboard, and I’m not sure that’s a circle that can be squared. What better way to encapsulate that struggle then sending two adverse message in the same day, calling Mexico a friend in Mexico City, then saying Mexico is not a friend at Phoenix that night?”

On whether Trump’s Mexico trip helped or harmed him…

  • “Overall, it won’t have much of an impact. Attitudes toward him are so baked-in at this point. The only way it could have helped is if the visit had been smooth and he had seemed thoughtful and presidential – and he didn’t really reach that bar.”

On Clinton’s inability to pull away from Trump

  • “Just when one candidate seems to get some momentum, voters are reminded they hate both of these people for different reasons. There are so many reasons to dislike both these candidates that the cycle of widening and narrowing polls will continue through November. Because they both have tremendous baggage, it’s hard for either one to break away. It’s impossible for Trump to break away. If he wins at all, it will be by the narrowest of margins. There are a lot of reasons to think Clinton can put him to bed and have a 10-point win, but every time she’s moving that direction, there are new revelations of seediness and the latest stories about Bill Clinton spending General Services Administration money on the Clinton Foundation and Hillary’s email server is one more reflection of that.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science. Books published:

  • Politics and Religion in the United States. With Michael Corbett and Julia Corbett-Hemeyer. Routledge Press, 2013.
  • Understanding American Politics. With Stephen Brooks and Douglas L. Koopman. University of Toronto Press, 2013.
  • From Pews to Polling Places: Faith and Politics in the American Religious Mosaic. Georgetown University Press, 2007. Edited volume including authored chapter.




On why his Mexico trip was a win for Trump…

  • “It was a big gamble going down to Mexico, but I think the pictures coming out of Mexico look really good for Trump. He’s standing in front of that green marble wall, looking like he could have been speaking at the UN. That looks like a win at that point – it’s a nice presidential image. That’s a thing moderate voters who would like to vote for Trump, but don’t like the things that come out of his mouth, want to see and feel reassured by. Also, the Mexican president didn’t come out during the press conference and say he’s not going to pay for the wall, so that was really amazing.”

On why Hillary Clinton can’t break away from Trump in the polls…

  • “The Clintons seem to engage in a private life and political life where the rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them, and the way to make those stories end is to stop doing that. Yes, the Clintons have been investigated more than anyone else, but that’s because they haven’t done the things that would make that stop. How many days since Clinton has held a no-holds-bar press conference? How many days since she faced non-parsed questions about the email server? If the Clinton campaign wants the pressure to end, they do that. When you say ‘Vote for me, I want to be the voice of main street not just wall street, I want to stand for joe six pack,’ well, main street and joe six pack don’t have private servers and they don’t get GSA money.”

On whether election interest will increase after Labor Day…

  • “Everyone keeps saying the election really starts after Labor Day, and we’re finally there, but it’s already been so exhausting, I don’t think there will be a big uptick in interest. These candidates are so well known and have received so much attention, will people really tune in after Labor Day for the first time? Or have people already been tuning in and are they now exhausted and disinterested? I’ll be surprised if there’s a big swing in the polls after Labor Day.”

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
  • religious voters and evangelical social movements


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