At the first presidential debate Monday night, Hillary Clinton replayed one of the best lines from her speech at the Democratic National Convention: "A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons." But in the wake of the debate, it's clear that it takes even less than that to bait Donald Trump into doing something stupid.
In a passage hitting Trump for his sexist comments towards women throughout the years, Clinton brought up Alicia Machado, a Miss Universe winner who Trump referred to as "Miss Piggy" and "Miss Housekeeping" when he ran the pageant. The former secretary of state followed through on two of the attacks on Trump — that he is sexist, and that he is racist — by putting a human face to them.
Just a few hours later, Trump attacked that human face yet again. On Fox and Friends Tuesday morning, Trump called in to insult Machado again, calling her "the absolute worst" and saying that "she gained a massive amount of weight and it was a real problem." So, here's the gist: when Trump was called out for saying offensive things towards a woman during the first presidential debate, Trump responded by saying more offensive things towards that same woman.
This, my friends, is called taking the bait. But the crazy part is how obvious the trap should have been and, thus, so easy for him to avoid.
Almost immediately after the debate finished, well before Trump unloaded on the former Miss Universe on Fox and Friends, the Clinton campaign tweeted out an ad telling Machado's story:
And the following morning, it turned out that multiple prominent news outlets had already met with Machado to discuss her experiences with Trump:
The Clinton PR team was ready to embarrass Trump for his brutish behavior. They were well-prepared to turn a small moment into a big mess.
But what really makes this trap crazy is that it's not even really new! The last time the Clinton campaign had an audience of millions, they also took the opportunity to make sure Trump got in a fight with an extremely sympathetic opponent.
With Khizr Khan's speech, Donald Trump walked into a trap that was about as obvious as a hole with a few sticks and leaves draped over it. It blew into a weeks-long fracas of Gold Star families and politicians (like John McCain) criticizing him. And when Clinton brought up Trump's demeaning behavior towards Machado, Trump again decided that sticks and leaves seemed great to walk on that night.
As usual, this is presidential campaigning as reality show — a back-and-forth of Trump's most offensive comments. But beyond highlighting Trump's gross feelings towards women, these exchanges bring up a worthy question about Trump's ability to run the country.
If the commander-in-chief of our armed forces were offered bait, would he fall into the trap just as easily?