I'm not in the habit of making public predictions, but had you asked me Friday morning where things stood in the 2016 race, I would have told you that it was over for Donald Trump, and that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next president. The fallout from The Donald's first debate performance, and the week that followed, had made such a terrible impression there was no way I could see him recovering. In front of the entire world, Trump had pooped his pants. That toothpaste never goes back into the tube. Unless…
…the entire campaign is rebooted; unless… an event so breathtaking occurs it wipes out everything that came before.
Now don't get me wrong, Trump is in a heap of trouble. But I do think that if it's handled correctly, Trump can come out with a better chance to win the presidency than he had on Friday morning.
There is precedent for this.
There is precedent for this.
Richard Nixon's "Checkers" speech, Bill Clinton's "60 Minutes" appearance in 1992 after the Gennifer Flowers bombshell, and, most recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003. The allegations against Arnold, another pop culture figure who entered politics late in life, were even worse. Trump talked like an entitled pig. Arnold actually had a history of physically groping women. Those allegations came from a number of women just a few days before a gubernatorial election. Schwarzenegger apologized and went on to serve two terms as California governor.
Other than the reset, the opportunity this audio affords Trump is three-fold.
1) It gives Trump a chance to appear humble, contrite, and modest -- a side of him we have not yet seen. Trump's Friday night video apology showed some of this. We'll need to see more.
2) Like Nixon, Clinton, and Schwarzenegger, it gives voters an opportunity to see Trump handle an existential crisis. You could throw Obama in this mix after videos of his racist preacher were released in the heat of the 2008 campaign. If Trump can be cool, level-headed, and articulate, voters might be willing to forgive the frat boy vulgarities and respect his steadiness under fire.
3) Hillary can now be fully-prosecuted for her treatment of her husband's legions of female victims. The Clinton's checkered past allows Trump to fight this to something of a draw. This will require a harrowing week of Defcon 1 ugliness, which is something I welcome. Donald Trump is a vulgar boor. Bill Clinton is a predator who has been protected for decades by the press. I want to see Bill prosecuted along with his enabling wife. To do this, Trump must scorch the earth.
All of this, of course, must be executed perfectly by Trump and his team. The genius who held that Birther event a few weeks ago might be able to pull this off.
The defensive, prickly, incoherent moron who dropped a load in his pants 20 minutes into his first presidential debate, cannot.
With nothing more than the words "binders full of woman," our corrupt media did to Mitt Romney exactly what they are now doing to Trump. This is why you cannot vote for virtue; because virtue doesn't matter. No matter who the Republican is, even someone as squeaky clean as Romney, by the time the media is done with them, he will be seen as Mr. Rapey Klansman.
In the end, I supported Trump for his mercenary skill-set; because he was willing to get as ugly as necessary to win.
In the end, I supported Trump for his mercenary skill-set; because he was willing to get as ugly as necessary to win. Like Team Obama (who accused Romney of killing a woman), time and again Trump proved he would do what it takes.
This was not true of Romney or McCain, and it would not have been true of Cruz, Rubio or Jeb, had any one of them won the nomination. Thanks to Hillary's media, each would be seen today as Mr. Rapey Klansman. This is unavoidable and not to belabor the point, this is why we need to vote for a skill-set over virtue.
Americans believe in second chances.
Trump's got 30 days and two debates to make his case for one; to make his case that the choice voters face is between a contrite frat boy-pig who will bring real change or Hillary, the rape-enabling/denier who personally destroys her husband's assault victims and represents four more years of a failed presidency.
Stranger things have happened.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC