The Trump tape doesn't matter

Donald Trump's campaign chaos
Donald Trump's campaign chaos


    Donald Trump's campaign chaos


Donald Trump's campaign chaos 01:56

Story highlights

  • Donald Trump's supporters aren't going to be swayed by his vulgar taped comments, writes Mel Robbins
  • Robbins: They see a vote for Trump as a way to flip the middle finger to the system, the media, the elite, the liberals, the smug know-it-alls
  • Clinton needs to make her own emotional appeal for support, Robbins writes

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. She is a contributing editor for Success magazine. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)Warning: This article contains offensive language.

Donald Trump is a pig. It doesn't matter.
    Donald Trump wants to "grab women by the pussy." It doesn't matter.
    Donald Trump thinks it's okay for other men to call his daughter, Ivanka, "a piece of ass." It doesn't matter.
    His casino businesses have filed for bankruptcy more than any other major United States company in the past 30 years. It doesn't matter.
    Donald Trump can hide his tax returns from you. It doesn't matter.
    Donald Trump can stiff hundreds, if not thousands of people who have worked for him as vendors, contractors and tradesmen. It doesn't matter.
    Donald Trump can offend, threaten, flip-flop and be downright nuts. It doesn't matter.
    At this point, I believe that Donald Trump, as he has suggested, could actually shoot someone and it would not matter to the 40-45% of Americans who still appear to be voting for him.
    Pundit Dave Pell summed it up perfectly: "Trump's brand is a--hole. His speech is hate. His promise is ignorance. I don't dig it. And you probably don't dig it either. But .... he isn't playing to you or me. He's playing to the people who have been digging it."
    If you think this latest controversy will finally beat him, you are wrong. If you can't understand how someone could "still" vote for Trump after all "this," consider what makes this such an unprecedented election.
    This election isn't about greatness, the future, or even Donald Trump. It's about defiance.
    To his supporters, a vote for Trump is a way to flip the middle finger to the system, the media, the elite, the liberals, the know-it-alls and the people who pretend they're better than "us."
    Every dangerous and disgusting thing Trump says proves he's not fit -- and that's the point. He's not fit for the current "system." And that is exactly his appeal. When he opened his apology by saying, "I've never said I'm a perfect person, nor pretended to be someone that I'm not," he was making it clear:
    I'm not "pretending to be perfect," like "Hillary Clinton and HER KIND."
    Obama won his first election thanks to the emotions of hope and enthusiasm.
    Trump could win this election on the emotions of frustration and resentment.
    Feelings are powerful. According to research, 95% of our decisions are based on subconscious factors -- like how we feel. Not logic. Not what you "know" is right. We make decisions based on what we feel in the moment.
    Most Republican voters disagree with Trump's grotesque, lewd words on an intellectual level -- but they still back the man because they feel defiant. That matters.
    There are some high-profile Republicans like Condoleezza Rice and Senator McCain who have called for Trump to step aside. But they're mostly not voting Clinton, opting to write in Pence or vote for a third-party candidate. That matters.
    On Thursday, I drove almost three hours north on Highway 94 in Minnesota. Not one Clinton sign. Not one. That matters.
    Saturday, in a hotel lobby in New Jersey, I spoke with a woman who's terrified that Trump is going to win. Her husband is a lifelong Democrat and he's voting for Trump, because he's "sick of how broken Washington is." That matters.
    The phrases I've heard over and over from Trump's supporters in Ohio, Colorado, Virginia and elsewhere are: "he's not another politician" and "he's flawed, like me." That matters.
    And equally troubling, Clinton supporters still feel like "there's no way" he'll win. That matters.
    Major newspapers are not endorsing Trump for the presidency. It doesn't matter.
    Former President George H. W. Bush is reported to be voting for Clinton. It doesn't matter.
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    Polls in some swing states show Trump with narrow leads. According to Clinton's fundraising emails, "Trump has TOO many paths to 270 electoral votes." And she's right to be nervous. Anger is a powerful emotion. What Trump represents is real. Concern about Hillary's ability to fix a system she's been inside of her whole career is real.
    She tried to laugh him off at the first debate. She can no longer afford to do so. "Stop Trump" isn't a rallying cry, it's an admission of defeat. She must approach this debate with the grit of a boxer, and be ready to fight. Not for the hearts and minds of the undecided. Just for the hearts.
    Don't talk to the people who agree. Stir emotion in those who don't. You can't just be smarter than Trump, you've got to inspire his supporters to be better human beings than him.
    If a vote for Trump is a middle finger to world, then a vote for Clinton can't be a middle finger to Trump. It must be a vote for a system that has kept us united under one flag for centuries. And there's no one who understands that system better, or how to fix it, than a woman who's dedicated her whole life to working inside it.
    That matters.