Team Clinton tasting victory

Getty Images

Hillary Clinton’s team is increasingly confident of defeating Donald Trump in November. 

Allies of the Democratic presidential nominee acknowledge they’ve had their share of missteps and unforced errors in recent days. Two controversies, in particular, could have been especially damaging against a more disciplined opponent.

{mosads}First, the campaign allowed Seddique Mateen, the father of the Orlando gunman who killed 49 people in June, to be seated directly behind Clinton at a rally. Meanwhile, media reports have continued to raise questions about links between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation, including whether there was special treatment for donors.

But those story lines have been relegated to the margins of media coverage, with Trump’s blunders dominating the spotlight. 

“We’re winning because of what we’ve done, but we’re also really winning because of what he’s done,” said one Clinton surrogate, pointing to the controversies the Republican nominee has engaged in since July, including his feud with a Muslim military family.

Overall, the Clinton campaign has had a good run since the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She started August with a bounce in the polls; prominent Republicans have been announcing their support for her; and she has taken the lead in nearly every important swing state. 

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Clinton came under heavy criticism after insisting that FBI Director James Comey had described her answers about a private email server as “truthful and consistent” over time. She later said she might have “short-circuited” with that answer.

Grant Reeher, director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, said Trump is most definitely contributing to Clinton’s recent success. 

“Hillary Clinton’s strongest asset is Donald Trump, far and away,” Reeher said.  

Remarkably, the Trump campaign managed to neutralize Mateen’s appearance at the Clinton rally by having disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) — who once sent suggestive messages to underage congressional pages — sit behind Trump at a rally on Wednesday night.

But Foley’s appearance paled in comparison to the media storm that erupted when Trump suggested Tuesday that “Second Amendment people” might be able to prevent Clinton from making judicial nominees. 

The offhand remark was widely denounced, causing such a ruckus that the Secret Service was reportedly tasked with speaking to Trump about the comments.

Clinton has had “a good couple of weeks compared to her opponent,” Reeher said. 

“You’re seeing the cumulative effects of some of his mistakes. He’s been stepping on landmines of his own creation.”

Reeher said the Clinton campaign is well positioned for the home stretch of the campaign after Labor Day. She has the lead in polls of key swing states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania and appears to have a chance to expand the map with victories in traditionally red states like Georgia.

Still, Reeher cautioned that “the numbers could change quite a bit” between now and Election Day.  

So far at least, Clinton’s supporters are optimistic about her prospects. 

“I’m comforted by the numbers, comforted by the Republicans coming over to our side and comforted that he’s handing us some minor victories because he keeps stepping in it,” said one longtime Clinton friend. 

The friend and other Clinton allies say they would have been in a worse spot in this election cycle had Republicans nominated a different candidate.

“I felt before the race really began that Jeb Bush, and to some extent Marco Rubio, would be the toughest opponent, and I do think if you swapped out either one of them today, it would be a very tight race,” said one longtime Clinton adviser. 

“That’s because either would certainly have consolidated more of the Republican Party behind them … and could have made inroads among both independents and some Latinos.” 

But the adviser cautioned that while the odds do favor a Clinton victory in November, there are several unknowns — the first being what happens in the debates. 

“The bar will be set high for her, so a ‘draw’ could be interpreted as a win for him,” the adviser said. “And of course, there’s always the X-factor of world events; something happening that shakes up the status quo.  

“[It] can’t be predicted, of course, but brings you back to the it-ain’t-over-till-it’s-over point of view.”

Tags Donald Trump Hillary Clinton Marco Rubio

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video