In my last Note from Don Cole, I made this observation: “Even though Trump is high in the polls there is one thing that I have not seen. I see no ground game.” That box is now checked in Iowa.
I saw more than one report during the week about the activities at the Iowa State Fair that specifically addressed Trump’s ground game in Iowa. Trump hired Chuck Laudner to manage his Iowa effort. Laudner was the head of Rick Santorum’s team that won the Iowa Caucuses in 2012.
A Washington Post article quoted an organizer for Rick Perry who made this observation, “You cannot swing a dead cat in Iowa and not hit a Trump person . . . . . The Trump people are everywhere with literature and T-shirts and signing people up.”
On Saturday, Trump supported his ground game with a unique air game. He flew his Trump helicopter to the Iowa State Fair and then gave rides to children at the fair. That may be written off as just showmanship but there is one thing to keep in mind about the Iowa caucuses.
A caucus is not primary where voters show up and vote. The caucus is a formal meeting that requires the attendees to show up, register, and participate in a meeting. It takes some time and effort. The numbers are not high.
Those kids who took a ride in Mr. Trump’s helicopter will badger their parents to no end to attend a caucus meeting. Those kids will talk about that helicopter ride to everyone they know.
The ground game is about getting your voters to turn out. Donald Trump appears to have a better understanding of that than the pundits may have thought.
This weekend Trump also revealed his first policy paper on Immigration. This policy paper reveals a two pronged political strategy. The first is to take a position that is simple, direct, and fearless. Senator Jeff Sessions said that Trumps Policy is “exactly the plan that America needs.”
Trump makes a distinction between true immigration reform and what has been presented in the past as immigration reform. His opening two paragraphs clarify his meaning of true immigration reform:
When politicians talk about “immigration reform” they mean: amnesty, cheap labor and open borders. The Schumer-Rubio immigration bill was nothing more than a giveaway to the corporate patrons who run both parties.
Real immigration reform puts the needs of working people first – not wealthy globetrotting donors. We are the only country in the world whose immigration system puts the needs of other nations ahead of our own. That must change. Here are the three core principles of real immigration reform:
1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
2. A nation without laws is not a nation. Laws passed in accordance with our Constitutional system of government must be enforced.
3. A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation. Any immigration plan must improve jobs, wages and security for all Americans.
He expands on each of these core principles. His policy paper describes how he intends to make Mexico pay for building a wall. He has been mocked and maligned about making that statement. He explains how he would make Mexico pay for the wall.
The second prong of his political strategy revealed in this document is an outreach to the black voters. In his section describing how he intends to make Mexico pay for the wall, he writes: “The effects on jobseekers have also been disastrous, and black Americans have been particularly harmed.”
The policy paper includes a link to an article in Breitbart that reports on a letter from Peter Kirsanow, a U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner, to President Obama and the Black Congressional Caucus. Kirsanow wrote that Obama’s Executive Order would “devastate the black community which is already struggling in the wake of the recession that began in 2007.”
Three more times in the policy paper, Trump refers to the impact of illegal immigration on the black community.
Trump is going after a constituency that has never given Republican candidates much support. He is making an argument that is designed to bypass the political brokers of the black community and go straight to the average black American who shares these concerns.
When Donald Trump announced that he was running, most analysts did not take him seriously. Many were quick to scorn and mock him and his popularity as just a flash in the pan. John McCain referred to a crowd of thousands who came to hear Trump as, “crazies.”
Donald Trump is proving that he is serious about his campaign. Trump is checking off the boxes and competing seriously at every level of campaigning. He is more than just a loudmouth attracting angry old white men.
The message for other candidates in the race is simple. If your strategy of dealing with Trump was for him to self-destruct, then you should be looking for a new strategy.
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