Five ways Clinton hopes to keep her momentum

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The Democratic National Convention and its aftermath couldn’t have gone much better for Hillary Clinton and Democrats.

In Philadelphia, the party’s faithful were bolstered by a well-organized convention that featured stellar speeches from first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Biden and President Obama and a coalescing of the left flank around Clinton, the party’s nominee for president.

{mosads}Two national polls released on Monday showed Clinton with 7-point and 9-point leads over Republican Donald Trump, who is struggling with college-educated women and minority voters.

Even better, the GOP nominee on Monday continued to battle the Muslim American parents of a U.S. Army captain killed in the Iraq War, even as Republican lawmakers reacted with dismay.

Momentum was with Trump after his own convention, but it has clearly shifted one week later.

How does Clinton keep it from shifting back?

Cast Trump as unfit to lead

Clinton remains a candidate with problems. A majority of voters disapprove of her, and many Americans don’t trust her.

Yet Trump’s numbers are even worse. And Clinton is determined to keep them low with a media campaign focused on what they see as his inability to lead — particularly on global affairs.

Over the weekend, the Clinton campaign pounced on Trump’s comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” that Putin was “not going into Ukraine,” before having to pivot after the anchor noted that Russia had already taken over the former Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

“What is he talking about? Russia is already in Ukraine,” Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s policy chief said in a statement. “Does he not know that? What else doesn’t he know?” 

Expect to hear the Clinton campaign raise more questions about Trump’s foreign policy acumen in the days to come.

Preparing for the debates (and manage expectations)

The next big moment for momentum to switch could be the first presidential debate, on Sept. 26 at Hofstra University in New York.

In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney entered the first debate against President Obama behind, but shifted momentum with a strong performance.

Trump may look to do the same next month.

Clinton proved to be a skilled debater during the Democratic primary against Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), but Trump pummeled his competition too — and without going into much policy or detail.

Advisers say Clinton needs to prepare for an unconventional opponent in Trump and that she can’t rely on previous game plans.

“Debating Donald Trump means going off-road,” said Democratic strategist David Wade, who served on presidential and vice presidential debate prep teams from 2004 to 2012. “It’s the difference between fighting traditional, fixed position warfare and battling the Vietcong. It’s asymmetrical warfare.” 

Lock down Ohio

Clinton and Democrats have an advantage when it comes to the Electoral College.

If Clinton wins just one of the three states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, it will be exceedingly difficult for Trump to get to 270 electoral votes.

Trump, on the other hand, might need to capture all three to win and almost certainly will need to win two.

Ohio is particularly critical to Team Clinton.

The Democratic nominee went straight to the Buckeye State after leaving Pennsylvania in the days after the convention.

While Trump is soundly defeating Clinton with blue-collar male voters, the Clinton campaign thinks it can turn out enough of the Obama coalition of African-American, Hispanic and young voters as well as women in Ohio to win.

One problem for Trump: criticism from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former Republican presidential candidate.

“I can’t see how Trump gets to 270 electoral votes without the Buckeye State,” said Democratic strategist Brad Bannon, who added that it becomes increasingly difficult for Trump to win the state because of Kasich’s “active hostility” toward him.  

Recent polls, including one released last week by Public Policy Polling, show the two candidates running at almost a dead heat in the state. 

Win over moderate Republicans

Clinton signaled her game plan in her Thursday night speech, which was devoted in part to disenfranchised Republicans who want nothing to do with Trump.

When she talked about how the GOP nominee had taken his party a long way “from morning in America to midnight in America,” she was speaking directly to those who supported Ronald Reagan and his vision and felt like Trump was taking the nation further away from the GOP president’s legacy.

Republican speakers also talked to the convention about why they were backing Clinton instead of Trump, in addition to retired Marine Gen. John Allen, who vouched for her record over anti-war chants from some liberals in attendance.

And in picking Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate, Clinton showed she’s interested in picking up centrists in both parties.

Beware the bedwetters

Democrats love to get nervous during high stakes elections. And Clintonites take that to a whole new level.

Every single time Trump climbs in the polls or dark clouds loom over the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters, they’ll blame everyone and everything — and even each other. 

But they shouldn’t fret, observers say.

“This is a strange election cycle at a strange time in the world only growing stranger, and the Democratic chattering class is terrified of a Trump presidency,” Wade said. “There are going to be weird polls. There are going to be odd moments and challenging news cycles. But the campaign cant allow the professional bedwetters to distract them from doing what they need to do.

“It doesn’t matter what is said on Morning Joe. Turn off cable television and execute.”  

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Michelle Obama Ohio Tim Kaine

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