One of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign tactics is a repeated question to audiences about his opponent. “Do you think she looks presidential? I don’t.” His audience always shouts,”No.” What Trump is asking with this question has more to do with gender than actual appearance. The implication is that Secretary Clinton doesn’t look like she can (or should) be the President of the United States because she is a woman.
In past campaigns, we have heard remarks about the appearance of candidates. Most frequently this included a comparison of height. Pundits have pointed out that all but a few Presidents have been six feet tall or taller. Trump himself used this attribute in his earlier ridicule of one of his primary campaign competitors—”Little Rubio”—who only stood about five foot, nine inches. If you go back further, people talked about Ronald Reagan’s movie star looks, and the attractiveness of Sarah Palin who was sometimes described as “a babe” when she was a Vice Presidential candidate. These attributes were generally seen as negatives with regard to assuming the leadership positions for our country.
Another frequent comparison in campaigns has been age. Some past presidential candidates were painted as being too young—Presidents Kennedy, Clinton (Bill), and Obama come to mind. In this current campaign, Trump has been using age as a negative for Clinton, indicating that she is not physically up to the challenge. Ironically, Trump is a year older than Clinton, but he obviously sees himself as much more vigorous. He claims his health is outstanding, and that he has the same energy as he had at 35.
All of this bluster is being used to try and discount Clinton’s experience and competence. The tactic worked for Trump in the primary (remember “low energy Jeb”), so why not use it again and again?
It’s hard to think anyone can discount Clinton’s stamina and energy. She is known as an exceptionally hard worker whether as a Senator or Secretary of State. Yet, Trump tweeted out that Clinton was taking the week off to rest before she faces him in the first of three presidential debates. In actuality, she is doing debate prep.
It will be fascinating to see if Trump dares to ask the audience whether Clinton looks Presidential when he is facing her on the debate stage. It would be an rhetorical question anyhow. The answer will be self-evident—she does. The real question to be answered is, “Does Trump?”