At a Bloomberg Politics breakfast on the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort outlined the candidate's strategy behind winning the presidential race. Just one more key piece is needed.
“The moment they see him like they did Reagan as president, I think the election’s over. I think the floodgate will happen, just like it did against Carter. It’ll be just finishing the race off,” Manafort said. “When will that moment happen? I don’t know."
Here are seven factors that, Manafort predicted in the hour-long question-and-answer sessions, are setting up Trump to get elected.
Leverage Domestic Unrest
Trump is making a case that there's a link between failed leadership and discord in U.S. communities, Manafort said. “The same failed leadership that’s caused the instability in the world and the rise of ISIS is the failed leadership that’s caused the unrest in the cities,” he said.
- Trump is also tapping into Americans' beliefs that the economy, the banking system, the judicial system, and the political system are rigged, Manafort said. The FBI recommendation not to bring charges in Hillary Clinton's e-mail case fuel that view of the legal system, he said.
Define Clinton as Establishment
“You tell me any candidate, I couldn’t pick one off the shelf better than Hillary Clinton to run against on change versus establishment,” Manafort said of the presumptive Democratic nominee.
- Clinton doesn’t have the capacity to attract voters beyond the Democratic base, he said. Democrats hoped the idea of the “first female president” would help, but voters “don’t see her as a woman,” Manafort said. “They see her as a politician" at home in the establishment, "and I think it’s been proven in the last month where her strategy of attacking Trump failed" and national polls show a fairly tight race.
- In a national poll by Monmouth University conducted July 14-16, Clinton was backed by 88 percent of Democrats, Trump, by 81 percent of Republicans. Trump led Clinton among independents 40 percent to 31 percent, according to the pollsters. Clinton led the overall horse race by 2 percentage points among likely voters, and led in 10 swing states. Clinton and Trump are each viewed unfavorably by more than 50 percent.
Unite Republican Elites
Manafort said he wants the support of the two former Bush presidents, but from a purely political perspective, their rejection of Trump might not hurt an anti-establishment campaign -- and Trump is benefiting from the Bush infrastructure anyway. “A lot of the Bush people, people who served in the Bush government, people who politically raised a lot of money for Bush, people who were politically his advisers, they’re for us,” he said.
- Former Trump rival John Kasich, the governor of Ohio who's attending events on the sidelines of the convention but not the main event, is “being petulant” and he’s “embarrassing his party,” Manafort said. “So will John Kasich finally grow up? Maybe. If he does, we’ll welcome. If he doesn’t, we’ll still win Ohio."
- Another holdout, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, has been “very positive about Pence joining the ticket, and is reconsidering everything now," Manafort said.
- A spokesperson for Snyder released this statement on Monday in response: "Gov. Snyder is focused on Michigan issues and not getting involved in presidential politics at this time."
Open Up Electoral Map
“The target list is actually expanding. The 12 battleground states are probably closer to 20 now,” he said, listing as “in play” Oregon, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In the campaign's polling, “I just came out of the field in all of the states that we’ll be focusing on, and in all of the states the movement has been pretty massive. States that we were a little behind in we’re even in; states that we were even in, we’re now ahead," Manafort said.
- “And this is before Pence, this is before actually Nice, before Baton Rouge the other day,” Manafort said, referring to Trump naming Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his running mate; a terrorist attack that left more than 80 dead in France last week; and the police officers killed Sunday in Baton Rouge.
- President Barack Obama in 2012 won the nine in-play states listed by Manafort.
Add Minority and Urban Voters
Everyone wants change, “whether it’s in the black community, the white community, the Hispanic community. All of them are going through their own issues and crises for whatever reason,” Manafort said.
- Asked about Trump’s rhetoric, Manafort said, “Trying to paper over it, he wouldn’t be the nominee if he tried to talk the happy talk about the situation.”
- Manafort said Trump would address urban issues by developing infrastructure -- "you go in there and try and clean up the inner cities -- along with creating jobs, improving "the living environment," and showing the community he cares.
- Manafort said that while Trump struggles with Hispanic voters in national polls, he can improve his standing with them in key states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. “You get into places like Colorado and Nevada, he’s maybe a little bit under-performing because they are the Mexicans, Hispanics that are closer to the Mexican profile in California. But even there we’re not, we’re pretty close to where Romney was when he finished the campaign. We think we’ll do better by the time the general election comes.”
- Manafort added: “He doesn't have a racial bone in his body.”
Put Running Mate to Work
Trump “didn’t care about Pence’s positions on all the specific issues,” Manafort said. Rather he was interested in his experience leading in Indiana and in Congress. A “special bonus” for Trump was Pence’s experience serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, "so he had foreign policy chops,” Manafort said. And Pence, unlike Trump, enjoys fundraising, Manafort said. “It wasn’t the reason he was chosen, but as soon as Trump found out that Pence likes fundraising he said, ‘Do I have a job for you.’”
“The convention, if it happens the right way, you know, with the messages we want to get out there, I definitely expect to have a bump,” Manafort said. Campaign strategists want to show dimensions of Trump that people are “totally unaware” of -- as a father and philanthropist with a big heart, he said.
- For conventions going back to 1964, nominees of both parties have usually gotten at least a modest polling bounce afterward, according to Gallup.