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Last week, as the so-called Acela primaries rattled down the tracks, Trump illustrated these very possibilities. Risking further alienation of women voters, the billionaire-turned-politician emerged from his five-state clean sweep with this caustic gem:
"Frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get five percent of the vote. The only thing she's got going is the woman's card. And the beautiful thing is that women don't like her. And look at how well I did with women tonight."
These 47 words are Trump's blueprint for beating Hillary. There is no mystery. They are to rhetoric what a machine gun is to a pistol -- rapid fire combinations of the influence plays we call the bait and trump (no relation):
-- Paint Hillary as a man.
-- Paint her as a weak man.
-- Paint her as a special interest candidate.
-- Paint her as a false champion of women.
Such insinuation was red meat for Clinton, who countered quickly by way of the recast: "If fighting for women's healthcare and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the woman card, then deal me in!"
In 21 words, she published her strategy: Paint Trump as a hater of women's healthcare, of families and equal pay.
But Clinton lost this round and for two reasons: First, by biting on the lure her rival dangled with such annoyance, Hillary entered Donald's towel-snapping man cave. That she countered so quickly reassured Trump that she'll play his game. Naturally, then, The Donald's next moves will be the same -- bait and trump, bait and trump, etc. -- until Clinton modifies her counter.
Below, from our table of influence strategies, is standard guidance for countering the bait. (Tap here to see it yourself.) What plays do you see that Hillary might run instead of the recast? For my money, her better choice is to pass or pause.
My grandfather always said, "The smartest people do the dumbest things." This may be the case with Hillary Clinton. In her zeal to champion women, families and minorities, she is confusing her objective with her opponent. Braving Donald Trump won't earn her the presidency. Winning the election will. And playing his game is a sure way to lose it.
Graphics courtesy of Playmaker Systems, LLC