Trump’s Strong Debate Slows the Bleeding
Donald Trump may have stopped the hemorrhaging on Sunday night. The question, senior Republicans say, is whether he was able to reset a campaign he appears to be on his way to losing in decisive fashion.
Most doubt he did.
The Republican presidential nominee took the stage here in St. Louis following the most disastrous weekend of his campaign – one in which he faced mass GOP desertions after tapes surfaced in which he could be heard bragging about sexual assault. While Trump avoided getting bogged down, and perhaps damaging himself further, in a back-and-forth over the tape, he showed less contrition than many Republicans hoped he would. And it’s not apparent he did anything to regain the support the bombshell 2005 tape may have cost him.
“It’s going to take him the full length of the rest of the campaign to make up the ground lost over the weekend,” said Austin Barbour, a veteran political operative based in Mississippi. “It’s not something you do in one debate, it’s not something you do in one week. If—and it’s a huge if—he’s able to regain the voters he either lost who were for him, or undecideds who had been considering him—if he’s able to do that, it’s going to take the full 30 days left. And that’s still a big if.”
Others were more brutal in their assessments. “Trump, for the first time, decently prosecuted the case against Hillary Clinton,” said one Republican state chair. “But it won’t matter—the story of the debate was written before it began. Trump likely slowed the bleeding but his campaign seems mortally wounded.” Added one knowledgeable Republican National Committee source, “He probably just saved himself from immediately losing RNC support but it will be a day-to-day decision from now until Election Day. I also think the race is over regardless.”