After the week Donald Trump just had any other campaign would have folded, but with Trump you never know. It started when his campaign manager was arrested in Florida for manhandling a female reporter who came too close to the Donald, and it ended when in a town hall interview with Chris Matthews Trump declared that there should be some kind of punishment for a woman who has an abortion, once abortions are legally banned in the US. The abortion statement united the pro-choice and pro-life movements, of which the latter has the somewhat peculiar position that the woman is as much a victim as her never-to-be-born child. Because of the uproar that was created by the interview with Matthews, unfortunately some of Trump’s other declarations were given less attention, although they are no less frightening. He suggested that Japan and South-Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons, did not exclude the use of tactical nuclear arms in the Middle East and Europe, called NATO obsolete, and questioned the need for both the United Nations and the Geneva Convention. Not bad for a week of hard thinking.
Trump stood firmly by his man in the ‘simple battery’ case, but with regards to his abortion statement he did something uncharacteristic and walked it back, saying that he ‘misspoke’ because of the complexity of the issue and the way the question had been asked. For a skilled candidate that explanation doesn’t make sense, but Trump is still an amateur and was obviously totally unprepared to discuss abortion with a merciless interviewer. The ultimate reason for his guffaw is that he’s essentially pro-choice but poses as someone who is pro-life, trying to give the answers he thinks a pro-lifer would give. His problem was that he used logic – as hard as it is to associate that with Trump – something that is missing in the pro-life movement. The Donald appears to be losing some support as a result of all this, and I assume it is on both sides of his electorate. He may have given those of his supporters who are not yet completely nuts reasons to reconsider with his abortion and nuclear arms statements, and he may have alienated some of the real crazies by not doubling down on his abortion statement and instead retracting it.
The whole episode has weakened Trump’s candidacy, and although his demise has been wrongly predicted many times before, this time his road to the outright nomination may have become harder. Ted Cruz and John Kasich are suddenly all for women, and if Cruz beats Trump by a sizeable margin in Wisconsin next Tuesday we are one step closer to a contested convention, even though Trump still has huge leads in New York and California and might just scrape by.
Hillary Clinton still has to get Bernie Sanders – who is more and more becoming a nasty old crank – off her back, but she’s already pivoting her campaign towards Trump. By doing that she’s supporting Trump in her own way, because she realizes that running against the only person in the US with higher unfavorables than she has would be a gift she can only hope for.
At a press conference yesterday Barack Obama reminded everybody that non-proliferation has been a policy objective of every president, Democrat or Republican, since WWII, and provided the contrast between someone who is well versed in foreign policy and a baboon like Trump.