Hillary Clinton is content to let Donald Trump grab the attention while she campaigns
As Donald Trump stumbles from one self-inflicted wound to the next, that other candidate in the presidential race — the one Trump has been too distracted to engage with very much — has also been out on the campaign trail, garnering much less attention as she relentlessly focuses on selling her message.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has been doing a lot of skating — right through some notable mishaps that could have caused serious damage if she were running against a more disciplined opponent.
A week that might otherwise be difficult for Clinton is turning into one of the best of her campaign, as her Republican rival’s troubles eclipse her own, enabling her to hit the stump unfettered, staying on message and on task in events in one hotly contested state after another, with the national polls moving in her favor.
“We’re going to have to look for some bigger places when we come here to Colorado,” she joked with a crowd of 2,000 in the Denver area Wednesday. An additional 1,000 supporters were sent to the overflow room. Clinton took plenty of shots at Trump during the rally, but she also charmed the crowd with her knowledge of Denver’s mass transit system, and talked in detail about her plans to address the economic challenges voters face.
Clinton seemed unburdened by a series of embarrassing resignations at the Democratic National Committee, charges that she mischaracterized the conclusions of the FBI investigation into her private email server, and the news this week that her massive fundraising lead over Trump is fast disappearing.
Rather than shine the spotlight on Clinton’s troubles, Trump has tangled with the father of a deceased war hero and the leaders of his own party. Clinton was more than happy to talk about that in Colorado.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Donald Trump is unqualified to be president and unfit to be commander in chief,” she said. “Anyone who spends his time insulting our military, demeaning the service of our POWs and fallen soldiers, insulting Gold Star families, this is not someone who understands the honor, the duty of serving America. I am so grateful to every single person who has ever put on the uniform of the U.S. military.”
Then Clinton returned to a favorite line from her address when she accepted the Democratic nomination in Philadelphia last week. “Anyone who can be provoked by a tweet should not be anywhere near nuclear weapons,“ she said.
Clinton also was able to hone her campaign’s message of optimism and hope and leave voters with the sense that she has a focused policy agenda that addresses their concerns. She preceded the rally near Denver with a visit to a local factory that makes scarves to punctuate her point that, despite what Trump says, business owners are not forced to offshore their production the way he has.
“I know he is wrong because I have been collecting information and visiting places that are actually doing these things,” Clinton said at the rally, showing off the scarf she picked up earlier in the day. Then she invited voters to check out a new page on her website that catalogs the scores of factories in America that make ties, suits, shirts, furniture and other products that the Trump brand manufactures elsewhere.
Clinton told stories about the fabrics manufacturing business her father owned, talking in detail about how much work he put into each of his products, taking the audience through each step. Then she turned back to Trump. This time she reminded the crowd of all the lawsuits filed against him by small-business owners who say his companies refused to pay them for the work they did.
Trump “has spent his career stiffing small businesses,” Clinton said. “I thought it happened once or twice. But no, my friends, it happened over and over. What kind of man does business by hurting other people?”
Such lines seemed designed to bait Trump into responding, an effort to bring him further off message and give Clinton yet more opportunity to talk about the hundreds of times he’s been sued. The tactic has proven effective against him on other occasions.
Clinton also ticked through the highlights of her economic policy agenda while in Colorado. She hopped from equal pay for women to promises of the biggest investment in public works since World War II to her vow to make public college debt-free. Again, she took digs at Trump along the way.
“If Donald Trump can plead bankruptcy six times and refinance his debts, American students and families ought to be able to refinance their debts,” Clinton said.
Follow me: @evanhalper
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