- - Thursday, October 27, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

They’re not even pretending to wait for the voters to have their say.

The mainstream media and pundits have called the election: Hillary Clinton is the winner, and the speculation has quickly moved on to her staff picks, her transition efforts and her first 100 days in office. Not coincidentally, some in the establishment are sending a direct message to Donald Trump’s supporters that their candidate is dead and has no chance of victory.

As a media pundit and political analyst myself, I too feel pretty negative about the expected election outcome. However, I had the opportunity to travel to Miami for a Trump event with the Brigade 2506, the Cuban heroes from the Bay of Pigs invasion who gave their historic endorsement — their first ever — to the Republican nominee. I spoke with grass-roots activists who are convinced that Mr. Trump can win on Nov. 8.

I kept asking them if they had seen the polls, and they were insistent that their man could prevail. One activist told me, “The enthusiasm is real, and Trump will win Florida.”

It was a positive energy unlike anything I saw on the ground in 2008 or 2012, when John McCain and Mitt Romney were at the top of the ticket.

Hearing Mr. Trump in person, I finally understood why millions of voters, especially voters who have been ignored and left behind in this economy, connect with him.

He came across authentic and calm, nothing like the demonic and cartoonish character whom the media love to portray. He spent time talking with these older Cubans, brave men and women who fought against the Castro regime in their native land. One of the women served 12 years in a Cuban jail.

Mr. Trump referred to them as “freedom fighters” and spoke feelingly of how President Obama’s weak deal had given the regime basically all it wanted, with no benefit for the United States and no protections for the oppressed Cuban people.

Watching him that day, I kept thinking about how things might have turned out had Mr. Trump been able to stay disciplined and on message throughout the campaign. What if he had resisted that 3 a.m. tweet about the former Miss Universe or if he had spoken with more dignity about women in general?

It’s such a missed opportunity, for when voters get the whole picture, reported fairly, the contrast is significant. The Clintons engage routinely in corrupt practices, mixing their political power with their nonprofit work to make themselves rich, while not standing up for the little guy.

It’s so telling: Mr. Trump is the billionaire, but it is Mrs. Clinton who has become the candidate of the superwealthy and special interests.

Mr. Trump is far from perfect, and there are plenty of times that I was angry with his divisive and undisciplined manner, especially in feuding with fellow Republicans. He is not a politician, which means he speaks his mind openly, a habit that has gotten him into some trouble at times, but has also revealed his genuine concern for the millions of Americans who have been left behind. Had Mr. Trump stayed on message and been more of peacemaker, I am convinced he would be crushing Mrs. Clinton in the polls.

By contrast, Mrs. Clinton offers no clear vision for America other than Obama 3.0. Obamacare’s failures are now becoming part of Hillarycare, and she has to defend skyrocketing premiums that affect individuals and families across the country. She should be forced to explain daily why Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats have presided over a sluggish economy and growing income inequality.

But Mrs. Clinton hasn’t had to play much defense, effectively spending the general election attacking Mr. Trump. It also appears her campaign has the stronger ground game and has been able to rebuild much of the winning Obama coalition of minorities, women and younger voters. These voters are not excited about Mrs. Clinton — many actually dislike her — but say they are more concerned about a Trump presidency.

I wish more Americans could see the Mr. Trump that I saw in Miami. He gave a heartfelt speech, and I realized that, with all his negatives, his agenda is the better way for our country. Even Speaker Paul Ryan could get more of his agenda done with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

Roberto Gutierrez Serra, a Brigade member, told me this election is “critical.”

“We have never endorsed a candidate, but felt that this time was different because we cannot afford to lose this country and hand it over to the liberals who are willing to push America further left where government exerts more control over Americans. That is a dangerous path for America.”

Mercedes Schlapp is a Fox News contributor, co-founder of Cove Strategies and former White House director of specialty media under President George W. Bush.

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