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Even reliable GOP allies wish Donald Trump would get his Twitter game right.

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Joe Henderson: Democrats need to rethink strategy of dealing with Donald Trump

They have swallowed Trump’s race-bait hook, line, and sinker,

Democrats can’t shame President Donald Trump or his most-dedicated followers. As we saw last week, the President will double-down on their outrage until opponents are sputtering with fury.

So, it follows that the smart strategy to defeat the President would be for Democrats to concentrate on policy. Things like health care, income inequality, and other pocketbook issues get ignored. Those issues affect the vast majority of Americans much more than which party stands tallest for patriotism.

Ah, but getting people right to pay attention to those other things is a puzzle that Democrats have been unable to solve. For that, they need look no further than the non-stop coverage the cable news and squawk machine gives to Trump’s tweets and ravings.

It has been a week since Trump tweeted that four U.S. Congresswomen of color should go back to the countries from which they came. For three of the women, I assume he means their hometowns in the United States. The other is a naturalized U.S. citizen like Melania Trump.

The coverage meant a week where the Democrats lost an opportunity to sell their message to a skeptical electorate. The message has to be broader than “Trump sucks.”

Trump has reveled in keeping the story in the news cycle at the expense of everything else. He loved it when the campaign rally in North Carolina chanted “send her back,” aimed at U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). It meant his base could dine for more hours at the free-media cable TV buffet.

Many say the media would better serve the public by paying less attention to Trump’s Twitter storm, but they drive ratings. Democrats (and Republicans) can’t force networks to cover their positions on pocketbook issues.

But, they could have a different response when asked about Trump’s outrage of the day. Democrats need a better strategy than reaction and outrage.

Reporter: “What is your reaction to the President’s statement about (fill in the blank)?”

Answer: “My reaction that we need a better health care system and a more compassionate immigration policy than separating families.”

See how this goes? They can’t control the questions, but Democrats can control their answer.

Don’t engage, because Trump will figure out a way to mock any response. That will be the day’s headline.

I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t call him out for his lies, provocations, and bullying.

But, understand, Trump is setting the narrative that Democrats hate America (and Israel). The longer that line of campaigning goes on, the harder it will be more Democrats to convince the residents of Main St. USA to vote for them.

And right now, they have swallowed Trump’s race-bait hook, line, and sinker.

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I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Dan McAuliffe, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
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