Under Siege, Trump Needs To Call On Melania


Stewart Lawrence Stewart J. Lawrence is a Washington, D.C.-based public policy analyst who writes frequently on immigration and Latino affairs. He is also founder and managing director of Puentes & Associates, Inc., a bilingual survey research and communications firm.
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Donald Trump finds himself besieged by the Clinton propaganda machine following the release of a “hot mic” audio tape of his remarks boasting of his ability to take advantage of women vulnerable to rich and powerful men.  However, it’s still not clear what most voters think about these so-called “revelations.”

Republican voters, unlike the party elites, are clearly standing by Trump — by a factor of 9-1.  At the same time some undecided women appear to be moving toward Clinton, though it does not appear to be more than 4-5 points overall.   In fact, Trump is holding his own in most of the main swing state polls, especially Ohio.  In the case of Iowa and New Hampshire, he’s even gaining ground.

Still, this is no time for complacency.  The Trump campaign needs to realize the gravity and unpredictability of the challenge it is faces.   More charges of Trump misconduct, however unfounded, will likely surface in the coming weeks.  Trump can and should deny them, and should continue to point the finger at the Clintons and the Democrats for their crass hypocrisy on the issue of sexual misconduct.

But Trump needs something else:  An unequivocal sign of support from his wife Melania that she “stands by her man.”  Hillary Clinton performed this role admirably during the height of controversy over her husband’s gross sexual misconduct in the early 1990s, including credible charges of sexual assault and rape.   She regularly appeared with him in public to rebut the charges.  And during the nominating battle, when it appeared that Bill Clinton might be driven from the race, his campaign cut one of the most powerful and influential campaign ads in political history, “A Man from Hope.”  The completely recast Clinton’s image and many experts believe that it rescued his beleaguered candidacy from the abyss.

The Trump campaign should consider taking a page from the Clinton playbook. How?  Cut a new campaign ad that features Melania Trump speaking about her husband and celebrating the qualities that led her to marry him and her confidence in his integrity and his manhood.   Melania has kept a fairly low profile to date, in part due to the language barrier she faces, but also because of charges that she may be in the country illegally.  Recently, she did issue a statement calling on voters to “forgive” her husband for the remarks on the “hot mic” tape.

But with more revelations of alleged groping and misconduct appearing almost daily, she needs to step up and publicly embrace her husband in a more visible and powerful way.

Here’s my suggestion for how such a new campaign ad might actually look, with some accompanying images:

Melania appears, in close up, looking directly into the camera, and says.  “My name is Melania Trump.  I want to tell you about the incredible person I fell in love with and married eleven years ago.  He’s the kindest and most thoughtful man I have ever met.  He has always been a perfect gentleman with me.  In fact, when he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him, he had tears in his eyes.   That’s when I knew what kind of sweet and humble man he really was.  And of course, I said yes.   He was my dream [image of photos of their wedding with Clinton in attendance].

And it’s not just me.  Donald is a gentleman in his dealings with all women.  I witness how he interacts with women every day {Images of Trump with female co-workers].  I know that he likes to hire women because he believes in us.  We are not just pretty faces to him.  We are his co-workers, his project managers and his staff.  And in my case, his loyal wife and companion.   He really thinks we’re smart [She smiles and whispers, “We are”].  He tells us this all the time.  And we are a big reason why he is so successful.

Donald and I have a quiet life together [Image of Melania meditating in yoga].  He’s an ideal husband and a great father and grandfather (image of Trump with Ivanka and her children].   I’ve heard all the rumors, but I don’t believe them. Donald is my hero.  I know he wants to do great things for America [Image of Trump meeting with builders and workers].  I really believe in him 100% [image of Melania and Trump embracing].  So many of us do.

[Back to Melania looking directly into the camera].  You should, too.

When should Trump run such an ad?   Let the candidate get through the third and final debate next week, when undoubtedly Clinton and her allies will continue to attack his character, using the latest “groping” allegations as fodder.  Then run the ad featuring his wife non-stop during the last two weeks of the campaign in the key suburban swing state markets where the 2016 race is most likely to be decided.

Americans believe in the power and sanctity of marriage, and they know that spouses of candidates have special insight into them.  They believed what Michelle Obama said about her husband.  They believed what Ann Romney said about Mitt.  Many people will believe what Melania says about Donald, too.

With her husband’s campaign increasingly under siege, now is the time when her special insight and reassurance are most needed.