CLEVELAND— Donald Trump will need to keep his ego in check, show some policy chops and reach out to aggrieved voting blocs if he’s going to be successful with his nomination acceptance speech Thursday.
The Republican National Convention has put the spotlight on the party’s fractures and been riddled with technical and programming inconsistencies not seen in previous cycles. But none of that could matter Friday morning if Trump gives a successful address. In order for him to deliver, though, he’ll need to show “a little humility.”
That’s according to Sara Fagen, a GOP consultant who worked on President George W. Bush’s campaigns.
“[Trump] should acknowledge that there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with him,” Fagen said Thursday at an event hosted by The Atlantic. “There’s increasing evidence he’s underperforming in very red states. He’s got to also give people a reason to say, he recognizes that that’s a problem for him, but he’s turned the corner.”
Mike Murphy, a GOP media consultant who worked for a Jeb Bush-allied super PAC during the primary, said Trump needs to stay disciplined, which is likely easier said than done for a candidate who is known to ad lib his speeches.
“Stay on the prompter,” Murphy advised.
The content of what he says should focus on enhancing Trump’s appeal to voters of color.
“The question is, what can he say to dramatically change the view of minorities and what college educated women think of him?,” Murphy said. “We need to see the character of Trump grow in this speech or he’s going to get boxed in.”
Trump’s speeches have been famously short on policy specifics and have instead included bombastic promises of smiting America’s trading partners, building a wall and basing visa policy on a religious test. In a New York Times interview published Wednesday, Trump appeared to take a step toward articulating his foreign policy. But his comments questioning a founding principle of the NATO alliance instead created a maelstrom.
Still, Mike DuHaime, a strategist for Chris Christie, said Trump needs a policy focus in his acceptance speech, but: “I don’t think he needs to talk about building a wall.”
Republican media consultant John Brabender, who joined his fellow strategists at the Cleveland event, said Trump should exploit his greatest asset: his charisma. Work on being likable, he suggested to the GOP presidential nominee.
“He didn’t win by hypnosis.”