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Clinton aide unmoved by bad poll numbers

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A senior adviser and pollster to Hillary Clinton brushed aside on Wednesday a string of recent polls casting shadows on the Democratic front-runner’s trustworthiness and favorability.

“I take all of these public polls with a certain grain of salt,” Joel Benenson said on CNN’s “Wolf,” reminding the network of its final 2012 White House poll that showed a dead even race before President Obama won the popular vote by 4 percentage points.

{mosads}While Tuesday’s CNN/ORC poll found Clinton’s favorability and perception of trustworthiness underwater, Benenson told host Wolf Blitzer that there’s been “minimal change” in the numbers that the campaign is looking at.

“I don’t want to debate you over your poll: You want to treat it as the gold standard, I don’t think that’s what it is,” he said.

“When any person who has been in some other role like secretary of State comes back into the fray as a candidate, you anticipate a period where once someone is in the political arena, partisans are going to go to their corners.”

He added that Clinton is “outperforming every opponent on the Democratic side and on the Republican side” in most of the polls, and that his own numbers show she holds a strong lead over all opponents on the question of “who cares about people like me?”

CNN’s survey had Clinton leading the GOP, but within the margin of error against Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

But the findings, as well as a Washington Post/ABC poll with similar results, have sparked questions about Clinton’s ability to surmount criticism over Clinton Foundation donations and her use of a private email account while head of the State Department.

One strategist told The Hill this week that the “pervasive belief that the story is going to go away and that they can mitigate this with silence” isn’t working, and added that the Democratic establishment is within two months of “real nervousness, if not panic.”

Benenson also addressed Clinton’s relationship with the media, which he said should improve after she officially kicks off her campaign with a rally later this month. She’s only taken a handful of questions on the trail, drawing the ire of The Washington Post, which created a clock to chart how long it’s been since Clinton last took a question from the press.

“I understand that people in the media want this to be a sprint every day, but the truth is that a presidential campaign is a marathon,” he said.

“She started taking questions on her last trip and I think as we go into the more official period of the campaign, a more formal campaign, there will be ample time for those kinds of interviews, questions.”  

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