Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE is ramping up his rhetoric against Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE as the GOP front-runner looks beyond the primary to defeating the likely Democratic nominee in the fall.
If Trump and Clinton continue along their current trajectories, it will set up a savage battle between two candidates who appear to genuinely despise one another.
Nothing will be out of bounds.
Trump has so far used his rallies and Twitter account as a testing ground for new attacks against his rivals.
At a rally last month Trump floated the possibility of nicknaming the Democrat as “Incompetent Hillary.” He appears to have settled on “Crooked Hillary” going forward.
Clinton will be the heavy favorite in a general election match-up between the two. Here’s a look at how Trump will go after Clinton to cut into her early lead in the polls.
Trump’s branding of his rivals has been lethal so far.
His attacks against Jeb Bush for being “low energy” haunted the former Florida governor. Trump also counts “Little Marco” Rubio as a vanquished foe, and he has delighted in explaining to supporters that there is no “g” in “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz.
With “Crooked Hillary,” Trump has a nickname for his rival that could encompass decades of controversies surrounding Bill and Hillary Clinton, from Whitewater to foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.
But the main focus here will likely be Clinton’s use of a personal email account and server as secretary of State.
Expect Trump to continue hammering Clinton as someone who has, for years, operated by her own set of rules and is above the laws that govern ordinary citizens.
Gen. David Petraeus will be a central figure in those attacks.
Petraeus was fined and sentenced to probation for sharing classified information with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, with whom he was also having an extramarital affair.
Trump has repeatedly argued that the investigation into whether Clinton’s home brew server exposed classified information is far worse than anything Petraeus was guilty of.
The woman card
Clinton will be looking to embrace the historic possibility of becoming the first woman president. Trump will be seeking to make that into a liability for her.
This week, Trump alleged that Clinton’s gender is the extent of her appeal. He accused her of playing “the woman’s card” and said that if “Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.”
That could be a tough sell from a candidate who has been accused of being a misogynist.
The Clinton campaign has responded by distributing an official “Hillary for America Woman Card.” Furthermore, Trump is already facing attack ads from an anti-Trump group that put together a “Greatest Hits” collection of his past remarks about women.
But there’s another angle here that Trump is likely to exploit.
In January, after the first gender-centric spat broke out between the two front-runners, Trump quickly seized on Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonVirginia governor's race enters new phase as early voting begins Business coalition aims to provide jobs to Afghan refugees Biden nominates ex-State Department official as Export-Import Bank leader MORE’s past marital infidelities and allegations of sexual assault. He accused Hillary Clinton of bullying the accusers into silence or seeking to discredit them.
Trump revived that attack on Friday, accusing Clinton of being an “enabler.”
Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson said Friday that the campaign would “absolutely” return to those attacks if the Clinton campaign goes after Trump as a sexist.
That is a fight the Clintons would like to avoid.
Physical health and conditioning
Trump has not shied away from attacks against his rivals’ physical appearance, whether it’s Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulGOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 White House debates vaccines for air travel Senate lawmakers let frustration show with Blinken MORE’s height, Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats face bleak outlook in Florida The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems attempt to tie government funding, Ida relief to debt limit Poll: Trump dominates 2024 Republican primary field MORE’s sweat, John Kasich’s eating style or Carly Fiorina’s face.
When it comes to 68-year-old Clinton, the 69-year-old Trump plans to frame his younger rival as too old, too weak and too tired for one of the world’s most demanding jobs.
“Hillary Clinton does not have the stamina … does not have the strength to be president,” Trump said on CNN earlier this month.
“You watch her life, you watch how she’ll go away for three, four days, she’ll come back, and she’ll go, I think she just doesn’t have the stamina.”
Trump, who likes to brag about his own health and how little sleep he needs, has accused Clinton of taking extended breaks from the campaign trail to catch up on her sleep and of taking long naps between campaign appearances.
In the general election, Trump might take that up a notch.
Some right-wing media outlets have sought to draw attention to instances where Clinton has coughed on the campaign trail, saying it raises questions about her fitness for the White House.
This week, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said in a radio interview flagged by ThinkProgress that “there have been some questions” about Clinton’s health.
Liberals have dismissed the attack as right-wing conspiracy mongering.
Trump lashed out at Clinton on national security and defense in his much-anticipated foreign policy speech in Washington this week.
The GOP front-runner said that “the legacy of the Obama-Clinton interventions will be weakness, confusion and disarray.”
He blasted Clinton for refusing to use the term “radical Islam;” condemned the “failed intervention in Libya,” and said the former secretary of State was responsible for a “reckless, rudderless and aimless foreign policy” that had “blazed a path of destruction in its wake.”
Those attacks are likely to continue.
Trump has also said he is taking notes from Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Manchin: Biden told moderates to pitch price tag for reconciliation bill Biden employs flurry of meetings to unite warring factions MORE’s attacks against Clinton. The Vermont senator has questioned Clinton’s judgment for voting as a senator to authorize the war in Iraq.
Sanders has called that war “the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of the country,” and Trump has prided himself on having been an early opponent of the war.
The GOP front-runner is also likely to continue to pound Clinton over the 2012 terrorist attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
He has already released an ad of Clinton laughing over flaming images of the attack.
In his Wednesday speech, Trump turned Clinton’s infamous “3 a.m. phone call” ad arguing then-Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTo Build Back Better, improving Black women's health is a must Rahm Emanuel has earned M since leaving Chicago's city hall: report 60 years after the Peace Corps, service still brings Americans together MORE was unprepared for the presidency against her. Trump said that “she was not awake to take that call” while the compound was under siege.
U.S. global trade deals have been one of the surprise issues of the cycle in both parties.
Sanders has railed against the “disastrous trade deals” he says have cost the nation jobs and decimated the working class.
The trade deals have also been a linchpin of Trump’s message. He has sought to regionalize the issue at rallies across the country, pointing to local companies that have fled the U.S. for tax shelters abroad.
Trump will likely hammer Hillary Clinton for NAFTA, the 1990s trade pact signed by Bill Clinton.
He’s already pointed to her past support of the Obama administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clinton once advocated for the trade deal but has since backed away from it.
There’s also an immigration aspect to the trade deals that could fall right into Trump’s wheelhouse. Sanders has blamed NAFTA and other trade deals for worsening economic conditions in Latin America and making illegal immigration worse