Let’s start with this: Nothing, absolutely nothing, is normal about the 2016 presidential cycle. We went down the rabbit hole many months ago so nothing should be surprising now. But how about this: Can Donald Trump succeed in the general election by appealing to moms who are so concerned about terror threats and the safety of their children and thereby mitigate his trouble with women in general? The answer is possibly. “Security Moms” are in play.
The original “security moms” appeal came after 9-11 when George W. Bush successfully argued in his 2004 campaign against John Kerry that to keep your kids safe, you must not change commanders-in-chief in mid-terror battle. He appealed to women who were concerned, first and foremost, with the safety of their kids.
Donald Trump’s appeal is a bit different (natch). His is one of ultra-masculinity. He’s tough and everyone else is weak. He’ll bomb the crap out of ISIS, torture the ones he can capture and kill their families. Keep Muslims out of the country, build a wall (a great one!) across the southern border and we’ll be able to leave our doors unlocked again. Will it work and help his cause with woman desperate to keep their families safe?
The expert who wrote the book on “security moms”—quite literally—says the answer really is in how Hillary Clinton drives the narrative in the general election. Juliette Kayyem, author of “Security Mom: An Unclassified Guide to Protecting Our Homeland and Your Home,” says Clinton as the nominee changes things.
“[Clinton] alone has the capability to take the ‘security mom’ issue, own it and not run away from it,” Kayyem said. “Trump will try to make enough dents in her base but I don’t think it will work because we not in a traumatic phase as we were in 2002 for Bush v. Kerry.”
But Kayyem says things could change. “Unrest is unpredictable. There is always a chance of an ‘October surprise’—anything that is radicalization-inspired could put terrorism at the forefront of why we are voting.”
(Full disclosure. I was an early and strong supporter of Kayyem’s bid for the Democratic nomination for Massachusetts governor in 2014. I was also a delegate supporting her at the state Democratic convention.)