Hillary Clinton is embroiled in a multi-front war against the presumptive GOP nominee and her challenger for the Democratic nomination. Her campaign has begun to roll out their strategy of using surrogates to attack Donald Trump from multiple angles, while she and her husband spend time campaigning in California ahead of the all-important June 7th primary.
Report from the LA Times:
Faced with the prospect of what would be a demoralizing loss in California that would end the Democratic primary season on a low note for her, Hillary Clinton is launching a barnstorming tour of the state in an effort to stop her rival’s momentum.
She and former President Bill Clinton plan to hold more than 30 campaign events starting Thursday in a scramble to eke out victory in a state they once were projected to win handily.
The two arrive in California as polls show a dramatically tightened race. Clinton has much deeper ties to California than does Democratic rival Bernie Sanders, as well as the backing of almost the entire state Democratic establishment. Yet the latest poll released Wednesday, a Marist College survey for NBC and the Wall Street Journal, shows her leading just 49% to 47% among likely Democratic primary voters, a statistical tie considering the poll’s margin of error.
The vigor with which the Clinton campaign is now approaching California comes as an abrupt shift. As of a few days ago, Clinton had planned to be campaigning Thursday in New Jersey, which also holds its primary Tuesday.
There is a real chance that Sanders could win California on Tuesday, a result that likely wouldn’t alter the trajectory of the Democratic race, though it would substantially boost Bernie’s argument that voters clearly haven’t settled on Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee. The fact that Hillary is even spending the time and resources to hold this many events in California tells you how worried they are about an embarrassing defeat to close out the primary process. Give Bernie Sanders credit where it’s due, he has figured out how to fight Goliath, whether or not he ends up victorious as the nominee.
On the other front, Hillary has released her surrogates with sights set squarely on Donald Trump. Report on this from the NY Times:
Hillary Clinton plans to deliver a scorching assessment of Donald J. Trump’s foreign policy prescriptions on Thursday, casting her likely Republican rival as a threat to decades of bipartisan tenets of American diplomacy and declaring him unfit for the presidency.
Mrs. Clinton’s campaign aides said the speech, which she will deliver in San Diego, would be the start of a persistent assault to portray a potential Trump presidency as a dangerous proposition that would weaken American alliances and embolden enemies.
The argument will include specific criticism of comments Mr. Trump has made about rethinking the United States’s support of NATO; his proposal to allow Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons; his vow to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the United States; and his pledge to advance the use of torture and kill the families of suspected terrorists.
But Mrs. Clinton will also invoke her experiences as secretary of state, including in 2011 when she supported President Obama’s decision to send Navy SEALs on a raid in Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, to make the case that Mr. Trump does not have the temperament to make such decisions.
To his credit, Trump has been able to weather the “experience” attacks from his Republican rivals during the primary. Nearly all of the GOP candidates challenging Trump were more experienced in the ways of government and foreign policy, though somehow he managed to swerve past them to the nomination.
Hillary Clinton must see an opening in this line of attack, so she’s beginning to test his defenses and see what might work in swaying independent voters to her favor. I would call this a very delicate topic considering that Hillary has weaknesses here, the most notable may be the disaster in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Trump could retort this line of attack by questioning the value of experience if it doesn’t lead you to the right outcomes.
It’s going to be interesting to watch this unfold, especially considering that none of Trump’s GOP rivals were able to diminish him using the typical political playbook. Hillary will either have to use the playbook better, or write a new playbook when Trump is the opponent.