- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

CLEVELAND — Donald Trump’s coronation had all the trappings of a great, albeit unconventional convention.

Mr. Trump — unlike any other Republican in recent history — has hit a nerve with the GOP populous. His inspirational message of a blue-collar billionaire resonated with many in middle America. We, too, want to live in a penthouse in New York City overlooking Central Park, know the value of hard work and someday hope that our efforts will pay off.

The GOP nominee’s simple message of “Make America Great Again” is motivational, and his team quickly branded the days of his convention days as salient off-shoots — “Make America Safe Again,” focusing on terrorism both domestically and abroad; and “Make America Work Again,” focusing on the economy.

Mr. Trump consistently beats likely Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton when it comes to public trust dealing with terrorism and the economy, so it was smart to jump-start the first two days with his strengths. She also lacks a rallying message, so it demonstrates a political advantage.

Themes also help focus the media on its coverage. It gives them a preset narrative.

And yet, the campaign hasn’t been able to stick to the script.

It started with Melania Trump’s speech on Monday night. It was meant to be a grand coming-out party — and indeed it was — until a blogger tied a portion of the language of Mrs. Trump’s speech to a speech first lady Michelle Obama gave in 2008. The media condemnation was swift and overwhelming.

According to New Analytics, which tracks news coverage, after the plagiarism story broke, the morning show coverage on Mrs. Trump’s speech reached 1,309 mentions — stories of “Make America Safe Again” got 60.

Speech-gate, quite simply, buried Mr. Trump’s safety message, and no other issues broke through in the morning coverage. On Wednesday, political pundits continued to talk about the speech, threatening the economic message from the night before.

The Trump campaign made matters worse, by doubling down defending Mrs. Trump and not conceding she may have borrowed some words from Mrs. Obama — something that’s common in politics.

On Wednesday, a New York Times headline read: “Melania Trump overruled speech writers” blaming the political novice of a wife for the mistake, and CNN talking heads were still having round-table discussions on the matter.

Mr. Trump — who was reportedly infuriated at the flap within his own campaign — tweeted on Wednesday: “The media is spending more time doing a forensic analysis of Melania’s speech than the FBI spent on Hillary’s emails.”

It was a true and clever tweet, but it still draws more attention the mistake.

“Good news is Melania’s speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!” Mr. Trump tweeted.

I believe he believes this is true. I’m not so sure.

To be sure, a powerhouse speech from Mr. Trump on Thursday night will steal all the headlines coming out of the convention, overshadowing any errors earlier in the week. He just needs to deliver.

Mr. Trump’s children have already been helping him out — so far speeches by Tiffany and Donald Trump Jr. have been truly impressive, highlighting a softer, and more accessible side to the businessman.

I just implore Mr. Trump and his campaign to stick to their “Make America Great” messaging — because it’s good, it’s focused, it speaks to the American public desires, and it helps make Mr. Trump’s case for the presidency. Anything else is just added noise Mr. Trump doesn’t need.

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