Clinton's anti-Trump campaign crusade presents red flags
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Lifer TV pundits and columnists still living in the world of Campaigns 101 think she's doing just dandy against a Republican candidate who can't help but self-sabatoge.

But in a year of populist outsiders captivating voters sick and tired of Beltway BS and platitudes, savaging the Donald as the beginning, middle, and end of your playbook no longer has the markings of a winner.

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This is a lethal mistake: and that's coming from a progressive journalist waving no Pom Poms for the former Secretary of State.

For all of the racist, misogynistic, quasi-fascist rantings we've seen from the real estate magnate over the last year, he's down just 4.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics election average. That's alarmingly close to margin of error territory.

And few polls have been released, taken in the time frame after FBI Director James Comey decided not to indict Clinton for using a personal email server while helming the State Department, that give a harsh political indictment of her professionalism and level of aptitude.

Trump stands in striking distance, despite a bare-bones campaign infrastructure, a growing-as-we-speak campaign staff, and a data operation that would make most local political campaigns look powerful.

But a strong convention, game-changing presidential debate performance and inevitable Clinton misstep — and Trump might be the one deciding whether to nuke Kim Jong-un.

"There are two Americas: the ruling class and the groups it favors, and then, everyone else," he railed on Monday at a rally in Virginia, continuing the anti-Democrat and Republican theme of his campaign that serves as an appealing message to Americans exhausted by political corruption and polarization on both sides.

This is the type of talk that could paper over some of the infamously reckless statements he's made.

But Clinton's campaign continues to cling to the carpet bombing Obama reelection model, which worked 24-7 to discredit Mitt Romney's business and personal background, since, you know, the president didn't have a booming economy to strut his stuff behind.

Reporters and Clinton supporters are inundated with one anti-Trump email after the other, complemented by "big" speeches about how "Dangerous Donald" is on foreign policy and Atlantic City speeches on his smoke and mirrors business record.

The problem for Clinton is, Trump isn't as dull, plutocratic (at least optically), and as standard Republican as Romney. More, importantly, the 2016 voter is a lot angrier and willing to roll the dice than four years ago. 

Trump will most likely do worse than Romney (17 percent) among nonwhite voters. 

But he also turned out a record number of Republicans during the primary; many of whom were Democrats who crossed the aisle. Although a primary is very different than a general election, Trump excelled with independent voters — while Clinton got crushed by Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Trump team pounces on Biden gaffes The Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election Warren urges investment in child care workers amid pandemic MORE.

And on the eve of Sanders' endorsement of Clinton, whether his army of millennial voters — who've expressed a strong dislike for Clinton politically and personally throughout my reporting on the trail — bring themselves to vote for who they deem a symbol of political corruption and corporatism is a total crapshoot.

So, maybe it would behoove Clinton to make the sale on why she is the ideal candidate, weaving specific examples of people, groups, and countries she's personally helped while First Lady, New York Senator, and Secretary of State.

Although I know of no examples that exist, Clinton should give a speech filled with previous instances of her taking on Wall Street and corporate tax dodgers to paint a wider portrait of a candidate who agrees with Sanders supporters that income inequality is not just some issue — it's the issue.

If she doesn't do these things and, instead, bets on the American people being smart enough to vote against a reality TV star, the crucial nest of independents, millennials, and conservative Democrats that may decide the next president are left to assume she's got nothing to say other than Trump equals bad.

And Trump will have key shots to convince them she, and her establishment minions, are worse.

Chariton is a political reporter for The Young Turks, reporting on the presidential campaign trail. He can be seen on TYT Politics. Before TYT, Jordan was a reporter for TheWrap and TVNewser. Follow him on Twitter @JordanChariton.