Sasso, a chief of staff to former Governor Michael Dukakis and a high-ranking field officer in two Democrat presidential campaigns, wrote a piece in The Boston Globe this past spring on how and why voters make a choice in the final election of a president. It was headlined, “The values battle in the general election.”“…deep and emotional judgments about candidates ultimately drive Americans’ choice of a president,” Sasso declared.
“The most salient variables,” he wrote, “are voter perceptions of three characteristics”:One, “a candidate’s personal political strength,”
Two, “voters’ trust in the depth and sincerity of the candidate’s convictions,” andThree, “most importantly, whether the voters think that the candidate ‘cares’ about people like them.”
There were several points in the debate where I thought Hillary Clinton was clearly better than Donald Trump in showing caring-ness for the average voter. She was particularly effective on that score when speculating on Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns for public scrutiny.“Maybe he’s not as rich as he says he is,” she told the 80 million or so persons watching the debate, “…maybe he’s not as charitable as he claims to be. Or maybe he doesn’t want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he’s paid nothing in federal taxes,” at which point Trump interjected, “That makes me smart.” (Immediately, I thought of the late Leona Helmsley's famous put-down of the working class: “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”) Then Clinton expertly twisted the knife, “So, if he’s paid zero,” she said, “that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health.”
Soon after, when Trump excoriated “know-nothing politicians like Clinton and President Obama” for squandering trillions of taxpayer dollars, Clinton seized the moment to reinsert her blade. “We have a country that needs new roads, new tunnels, new bridges, new airports, new schools, new hospitals,” said Trump. “And we don’t have the money because it’s been squandered on so many of your (Clinton’s) ideas.” Said Clinton, “And maybe because you haven’t paid any federal income tax for a lot of years.”
Trump tells America he’s smart not to pay taxes and implies the rest of us are chumps.Four months ago in the Globe, Sasso predicted Clinton would win. I’m sure that, watching the debate last night, he had no sudden qualms about his prognosticative powers.