One hour and one minute into the first presidential debate, Donald Trump finally mentioned, in passing, the word that had gotten him this far: “border.”
And then Trump immediately forgot to bring up borders anymore, other than a rushed reference to the Border Patrol endorsing him. (He touched very briefly three times on “immigration.”)
Not surprisingly, Trump’s two opponents, Hillary Clinton and Lester Holt, didn’t bring up borders.
Trump can hardly rely on them. NBC’s Holt had heard plenty of “you’ll never work in this town again” threats from his colleagues in the press if he didn’t bias the questions against Trump more than Matt Lauer had at a lower-key Clinton-Trump forum on Sept. 7.
Holt did an expert job of tilting his moderation toward Hillary while still giving Trump a fighting chance. Sure, that’s not fair, but that’s the best Trump can expect in the debates.
At this point Trump is on track to rank, along with Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, Barry Goldwater, and George McGovern, as one of the finest losers in American history. To win, however, Trump’s effort is going to have to be even more heroic than it has been to get him to where he is.