Victory is close for Trump, despite the noise

Four months ago, buoyed by a record-setting economy, a long-overdue challenge to China and scenes of American soldiers returning home from wasteful wars, Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE was cruising toward re-election.

Since then, much has changed, including what voters care about.

A pandemic not yet ready to surrender has forced us indoors, away from work and distanced from each other. Gatherings are no longer completely safe. Jobs are no longer completely secure. Major league sports are having major league challenges re-opening to fans. Zoom is no longer an adjective for speed but a product refracting our inertia.

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In the wake of this tectonic disturbance, our nation's political landscape has also shifted in ways we’ve yet to fully grasp.

That helps explain why a smartphone-captured act of brutality on a Minnesota street not only shocked our conscience but ignited such anger that protests quickly succumbed to looting and violence amid calls to defund the police, destroy history, and silence any dissent.

Four years ago, when Trump was predicted to lose — and lose badly — in polls taken during the election’s final week, he was written off by the same nattering nabobs who have never understood him or the people who stand with him.

Trump is on the verge of winning again — of defying the establishment and all the prognosticators again — because the chattering class never accepted his ability to command a message that cuts through the normal din of drivel. The difference today is he has a bully pulpit to deliver the message and the popular allure of being the “comeback kid” to drive it.

The path to that comeback is historically validated, clearly marked and easy to follow.

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It is a path that requires him to be who he is and what he stands for — the tell-it-like-it-is outsider whose appeal is fueled by taking on issues others fear and barely touch, a leader willing to fight like hell to make things work, and make things right.

Specifically, Trump needs to re-declare all-out war against the pandemic. COVID-19 is THE issue of our times. He should return to near-daily briefings to keep the public informed, regardless of the evidence of the day.

He should establish a “vaccine watch” where the efforts of all those working on a cure can be tracked and followed, day by day. It will provide a therapeutic shot-in-the-arm to everyone who remains hopeful yet fearful.

All such efforts would show how determined he is to tackle COVID-19 head-on. Churchill was right when he said, “success is not final, and failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.” Short of this, every other legitimate achievement — from China and immigration to taxes and regulations — will pale in comparison.

Americans are looking for a modern-day General Patton, who — while acknowledging fear — gave us the mettle to fight, not politicians like Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Trump executive order is 'a reckless war on Social Security' Trump got into testy exchange with top GOP donor Adelson: report Blumenthal calls for declassification of materials detailing Russian threat to US elections MORE who feign courage while cowering at home. Trump should return to the battlefield. This is war.

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Second, to give the economy both lift and mission, He should return to his roots as a master builder. He should go beyond his $1-trillion opener and call for the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the planet. In FDR fashion, go big to rebuild America’s roads, schools, ports, airports, and cyber-highway. It would create millions of jobs short-term, millions more downstream, and stop us from constantly looking over our shoulder at China catching up. Put them in our rearview mirror — and keep them there.

Third, instead of fearing a full-bore discussion on race relations, Trump should embrace it. His record of support for historically black colleges and school choice, for economic empowerment in black communities, and for judicial reform, contrasts with Biden’s support for the ’94 Crime Bill calling for massive incarceration and no school choice.

Trump should welcome the discussion George Floyd’s death inspired. Commit to everyone’s constitutional right to protest, then draw the line when lives are endangered, businesses are burned, and police are threatened. Speak out and know that America’s silent majority will grow less silent.

Finally, he should take square aim at what he’s for — jobs, safety, peace, a fair trade, a square deal — versus what he’s against. The nation is hurting, and while the media piles on with doom and gloom to boost their ratings, Trump can inspire the people to boost their spirits.

If he does, everything else goes his way. One debate, much less the three agreed to, will bring the currently ascendant Biden back to earth: 55 percent of Americans — one in three Democrats —already feel Biden is falling into mental disrepair. His concessions to the left mean he must defend programs we can’t afford, protests he’ll be asked to fully embrace, and economic changes that would cripple the pillars of our economy. 

So let the natterers natter, and the critics cry, let the pundits pontificate and the liberals lecture. They’re not the audience, America is.

Trump can be that force for change, that General Patton, who sagely surmised while heading into battle that it’s “better to fight for something than live for nothing.”

Do that, and Trump will not only win an election, but a better, safer, more predictable future for all of us.

Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist and columnist. He is a partner at Ballard Partners in Washington D.C. He is also the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3