PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Michael Steele, a former Chairman of the Republican National Committee, criticized Donald Trump’s performance in the second presidential debate for not endeavoring to make his case to the moderate and undecided voters that he needs to form and electoral majority in next month’s election.
Steele, during an interview with Rich Zeoli on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT, said Trump spent too much time playing to his base with attacks on Hillary Clinton.
“Here’s the problem. You’re thirty days out and so playing to your base thirty days out when, if you’re base showed up as you hope they do, you’re only getting about 42, 43 percent of the vote, if you’re lucky, you’ve got to start playing to the rest of the country. You’ve got to start having a message for independent, white female voters, which is has none at this point. That is, particularly on the heels of everything else that’s come out of Trump world in the last ten days or so, that’s a hard sell.”
He stated the debate was a crucial opportunity to broaden his appeal and it is too late in the game to spend on solidifying base appeal.
“I appreciate having to play to your base but, at this point, your base should be done. It really should be done. If you have a candidate, whether you’re running for President or dog catcher in your local community, if you don’t have those votes that are yours banked and ready to rock and roll, you’ve got voters around the country who are already voting, they’ve been voting for the last two or three weeks in some cases, that’s when your base turns out, you get that early vote in.”
Steele believes the days before next debate are crucial for a campaign that many see as collapsing amid defections from Republican congressional candidates who view their nominee for the White House as toxic.
“There’s still a lot of things about the strategy and the campaign that are problematic. But like all things that we’ve seen with Trump, it tends to fall his way. I think, in some respects, last night will fall his way in terms of the numbers, but I just don’t know that it’s enough. It will matter what he does between now and the next debate in Vegas to, sort of, right that ship with that white female voter who will be the ones to determine who the next President is going to be.”