You have already shifted your focus, from Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primaries, to battle Donald Trump in the General Election. Currently, you only need 78 more delegates to win the Primary, with minority-rich California and New Jersey coming-up in just two weeks. Plus, Senator Sanders should be heading toward the door by now, since the Democratic Party has already granted him several major concessions.
As you ease into the General Election; however, considering how Trump has tried to control the political agenda in the Primaries, give some thought to changing your own strategy. During the year since he began his campaign, Mr. Trump has dispatched each of his GOP adversaries—one by-one—by bullying them. His tact has been one of boisterous, bigoted, lies and innuendo, and with a number of convenient conspiracies thrown in.
All the while, the media has been complicit in enabling Trump to play by his own set of rules. Both print and broadcast outlets have failed their traditional role of the Fourth Estate—holding politicians responsible for answering legitimate questions, and with appropriate follow-up questions, as needed. Unfortunately, Donald Trump has been allowed to spew his venom ad nauseum, attacking anyone or anyone who disagrees with him.
Don’t play Trump’s game! Otherwise, like his adversaries in the primaries, you will be defined by him, and with reporters asking for your response to his latest rants. Ignore his commentaries. Demonstrate that you have a command of the policy issues—both foreign and domestic—and play by your own set of rules. Control what your agenda is and, in fact, ignore him for the most part. Make sure, however, that your own commentaries are reasonably straight-forward, easy to understand, bullet points on visuals might be helpful, and project yourself as the warm person that you are.
Finally, your senior communications advisors should insist that the media do its job! Insist on direct, substantive responses to relevant questions, and with follow-up questions, as required. This should apply both to one-on-one interviews (i.e., Meet the Press, Face the Nation, etc.), as well as during the Presidential Debates. Lastly, when Trump rants, just ignore him: don’t take the bait!