The editors of the Wall Street Journal penned an op-ed piece on Sunday in which they urged Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to learn to “behave” and stay on message — or step down and let running-mate Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) take over the ticket.
Titled “Trump’s Self-Reckoning,” the unsigned screed said that Trump’s falling poll numbers and the candidate’s inability to rise above personal slights have brought the campaign to a “moment of truth.”
Trump has lashed out at the media and blamed its purported liberal bias for the fact that his campaign is in free fall. The Journal pointed out, however, that the last three Republican presidents have been unpopular with the media and yet somehow managed to rise above it.
“Mr. Trump’s advisers and his family want the candidate to deliver a consistent message making the case for change. They’d like him to be disciplined. They want him to focus on growing the economy and raising incomes and fighting terrorism,” the editorial said.
“They think he should make the election a referendum on Hillary Clinton, not on himself. And they’d like him to spend a little time each day—a half hour even—studying the issues he’ll need to understand if he becomes President,” it went on.
“Is that so hard?” the editors asked. “Apparently so. Mr. Trump prefers to watch the cable shows rather than read a briefing paper.”
The essay went on to criticize Trump for having no organized ground game, no digital campaign outreach and his habit of wasting time on Twitter.
“By now it should be obvious that none of this is working,” the authors said. “He is now losing in every key battleground state, some like New Hampshire by double digits. The Midwest industrial states he claimed he would put into play — Wisconsin, Pennsylvania — have turned sharply toward Mrs. Clinton.”
The article concluded, “If they can’t get Mr. Trump to change his act by Labor Day, the GOP will have no choice but to write off the nominee as hopeless and focus on salvaging the Senate and House and other down-ballot races. As for Mr. Trump, he needs to stop blaming everyone else and decide if he wants to behave like someone who wants to be President — or turn the nomination over to Mike Pence.”
The New York Times said last week that the Trump campaign is in a state of chaotic disarray. The candidate himself has become “sullen and erratic” as staffers struggle in vain to keep him focused and attentive to matters at hand.
Republican Party officials have staged multiple “interventions” with Trump since the end of primary elections, but to no avail.
“He has three or four good days and then makes another gaffe,” said Republican lobbyist Charles Black. “Hopefully, he can have some more good days.”