Buoy­ant Clin­ton reach­ing past Trump, wants Demo­cratic Se­nate

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Julie Pace and Kath­leen Hen­nessey

PUE­BLO, COLO. >> Brim­ming with new con­fi­dence, Hil­lary Clin­ton turned up the heat Wed­nes­day on Repub­li­can can­di­dates who are fac­ing both tight elec­tion races and tough de­ci­sions on what to do about Don­ald Trump. She’s now seek­ing to spread her new mo­men­tum to fel­low Democrats on Novem­ber bal­lots.

Are you with him or not? Clin­ton and her cam­paign are de­mand­ing of GOP can­di­dates as she surfs a wave of new sup­port, part of the fall­out from the rev­e­la­tions of Trump’s ag­gres­sive sex­ual com­ments about women.

Some Repub­li­can law­mak­ers are do­ing as she de­mands — but not all of them in the way she hoped.

Two se­na­tors and two House mem­bers who called for Trump to step aside over the week­end now have climbed back aboard. Their ba­sic case: They’re vot­ing for a Repub­li­can next month, and if Trump isn’t leav­ing then he’s got to be the one.

John Thune of South Dakota, the third-rank­ing Repub­li­can in the Se­nate told the Rapid City Jour­nal he had “reser­va­tions about the way (Trump) has con­ducted his cam­paign and him­self.” How­ever, he said, “I’m cer­tainly not go­ing to vote for Hil­lary Clin­ton.”

Also back on board af­ter call­ing on Trump to re­sign: Sen. Deb Fis­cher of Ne­braska and Reps. Scott Gar­rett of New Jersey and Bradley Byrne of Alabama. There still are some three dozen GOP law­mak­ers who have with­drawn their sup­port or are call­ing for Trump to step aside.

At a rally in Colorado, Clin­ton de­clared that Trump is “des­per­ate” and run­ning “scorched earth strat­egy.”

“That’s all they have left — pure neg­a­tiv­ity, pes­simism,” she said.

In­deed, Trump kept up his un­re­lent­ing de­nun­ci­a­tions of Clin­ton at a rally in Florida. It’s not enough for vot­ers to elect him in­stead of her, he de­clared, “She has got to go to jail.”

Later Wed­nes­day, Clin­ton was cam­paign­ing in Las Ve­gas, where she planned to call out Rep. Joe Heck, a Repub­li­can in a tough Se­nate fight who re­voked his sup­port for Trump af­ter hear­ing his caught-on-video boasts about grop­ing women.

The fo­cus on Repub­li­can con­gres­sional can­di­dates is the lat­est sign the Clin­ton cam­paign is mov­ing past a nar­row fo­cus on win­ning the White House, and now is aim­ing to win big — by de­liv­er­ing the Se­nate to Democrats, mak­ing deep cuts into the Repub­li­cans’ ma­jor­ity in the House and, pos­si­bly, win­ning states long con­sid­ered Repub­li­can ter­ri­tory.

“If you’ve got friends in Utah or Ari­zona, make sure they vote, too,” Clin­ton told a rau­cous crowd in Pue­blo.

“We are com­pet­ing ev­ery­where . ... I think Amer­i­cans want to turn out in as big a num­ber as pos­si­ble” to re­ject Trump’s mes­sage, Clin­ton said.

She had sym­pa­thetic words — se­ri­ous or not — for Trump sup­port­ers who have be­gun to in­ter­rupt her events.

As se­cu­rity es­corted one man out in Pue­blo, Clin­ton said: “You have to feel a lit­tle sorry for them; they’ve had a re­ally bad cou­ple of weeks.”

Clin­ton’s new swag­ger and ex­panded am­bi­tions come as Trump de­clares he feels un­shack­led to launch the sort of hard-edged, per­sonal cam­paign his most ar­dent sup­port­ers love.

In Florida, he high­lighted a new batch of hacked emails from Clin­ton cam­paign man­ager John Podesta’s ac­count, pub­lished by Wik­iLeaks, the anti-se­crecy group. He as­serted that the emails show ever more clearly that the for­mer sec­re­tary of state and her fam­ily are cor­rupt.

“It never ends with th­ese peo­ple,” he said.

Podesta is show­ing the Clin­ton cam­paign is will­ing to pull out its knives, too. Cit­ing a tweet as ev­i­dence, he has sug­gested the Trump team knew in ad­vance about Wik­iLeaks’ plans to pub­lish his hacked emails. The group, which U.S. of­fi­cials have said has ties to Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence, re­leased a fourth in­stall­ment of pri­vate cor­re­spon­dence be­tween top Clin­ton cam­paign of­fi­cials on Wed­nes­day.

Podesta says the FBI is in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s pos­si­ble in­volve­ment, rais­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary prospect of a link be­tween Rus­sia and the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. While ac­knowl­edg­ing any ev­i­dence was cir­cum­stan­tial, he said the al­leged ties could be driven ei­ther by Trump’s pol­icy po­si­tions or the Repub­li­can’s “deep en­gage­ment and ties with Rus­sian in­ter­ests in his busi­ness af­fairs.”

The FBI said anew that it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble Rus­sian hack­ing in­volv­ing U.S. pol­i­tics but made no com­ment on Podesta.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin said Wed­nes­day in Moscow that “hys­ter­ics have been whipped up to dis­tract the at­ten­tion of the Amer­i­can peo­ple from the essence of what the hack­ers re­leased . ... They talk about who did it. Is it re­ally that im­por­tant?”

With polls show­ing Clin­ton pulling ahead in the pres­i­den­tial race and Trump dig­ging in, Repub­li­can can­di­dates for the House and Se­nate are tied in knots. If they re­voke their sup­port for their party’s nom­i­nee, they risk los­ing his vot­ers and los­ing their races. If they stand by him, they not only risk turn­ing off mod­er­ate Repub­li­cans but also be­ing branded for years as aligned with the Repub­li­can who sparked a cri­sis for the party.

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