The public's perception of the most qualified candidate for president has shifted in the last few months.
What a difference a few months make on the campaign trail. Just back in mid-summer, everyone was talking about the loose cannon, Donald Trump, and worrying that if elected, he would create World War III with his shoot-from-the-hip style.
Fast-forward to September and the concerns now are whether Hillary Clinton can stand up under the stress and strain of the job, and if she participating in one of the famous cover-ups for which the family is so well known, over her health issues.
Meanwhile, Trump is softening his fiery rhetoric and sounding more like a politician, making his points with reason and logic more suited for a presidential candidate. Trump looked almost like a sitting president during his visit to Mexico, while Ms. Clinton rested from the rigors of the campaign trail. Right or wrong, perception means a lot to the voting public.
So, who are the American people more worried about now? Recent polls have shown that Trump is closing the wide gap that once separated the two, and is even leading in some of the key states, although within the margin of error for most polls. Could it be the public is beginning to see the candidates in a slightly different light?
With less than two months to go, it certainly is a tight race and anything can happen to make a dramatic shift in the contest, so it is far from over.
Ms. Clinton’s remark about Trump supporters being a “basket of deplorables” certainly did some damage to her campaign as well as her image among the public. Couple that with Trump’s response, or at least a lack of a meltdown over the remark, and you have him coming off again as presidential, while Hillary looked vindictive and shrewish.
Neither of those qualities set well with most voters, but much of that will be forgotten by Election Day. The Trump campaign would be wise to invest in replaying that video a number of times between now and then.
But it’s not just the remarks or the health problem she had on Sunday, explained by her handlers as a case of pneumonia and de-hydration. Hillary and her staff have a proven track record of not telling the exact truth, and many voters, especially those who lean toward conspiracy theories, are not accepting the campaign’s explanation of the events.
And many wonder why she didn’t just tell the public she was suffering from pneumonia to begin with, instead of pressing on as if there was nothing wrong. In retrospect, I would imagine she would have gotten off a lot easier in the press if she had leveled with them about her condition. Now, it seems more like an after-the-fact excuse, and again, with her history dragging her credibility down, many are wondering if she is indeed hiding something. There’s that perception thing again.
The tables have certainly turned for a large number of the voting public in favor of Mr. Trump as the least-likely train wreck seeking the office. Their concerns about Mr. Trump are still there, but Clinton’s recent problems are making her seem less solid and capable as a candidate, thereby switching positions late in the game. The voters have a genuine concern over a president that may be unable to function in the office, due to health issues.
And recent stories that have emerged are revealing the current administration’s promised transparency in government has not been delivered, and that has left a bad taste in the mouth of the voters who expect more from their candidates, and are tired of lies and cover-ups by politicians on both sides of the aisle.
I once said Mr. Trump’s greatest obstacle in reaching the office of President of the United States was himself, and it is beginning to look as if he got the message.
Voters are going to have to decide which candidate is the most frightening on November 8. It is still not an easy decision.