Look­ing past Trump, Clin­ton aims to aid other Dems

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Josh Le­d­er­man and Cather­ine Lucey

DURHAM, N.C. >> Newly con­fi­dent and buoy­ant in the polls, Hil­lary Clin­ton is look­ing past Don­ald Trump while widen­ing her mis­sion to in­clude help­ing Democrats seize the Sen­ate and chip away at the Repub­li­can-con­trolled House.

Though Trump’s cam­paign in­sisted Sun­day it was pre­ma­ture to count him out, it’s Clin­ton whose path to win­ning the White House has only grown wider in the race’s final weeks. Even long­time Repub­li­can strongholds such as Utah and Ari­zona sud­denly ap­pear within her reach on Nov. 8, en­tic­ing Democrats to cam­paign hard in ter­ri­tory they haven’t won for decades.

The shift­ing po­lit­i­cal map has freed Clin­ton and her well-funded cam­paign to spend time and money help­ing other Democrats in com­pet­i­tive races. Clin­ton said she didn’t “even think about re­spond­ing” to Trump any­more and would in­stead spend the final weeks on the road “em­pha­siz­ing the im­por­tance of elect­ing Democrats down the bal­lot.”

“We’re run­ning a co­or­di­nated cam­paign, work­ing hard with gu­ber­na­to­rial, Sen­ate and House can­di­dates,” said Robby Mook, Clin­ton’s cam­paign man­ager. And for good rea­son. Af­ter a mer­ci­less twoyear cam­paign, the next pres­i­dent will face the daunt­ing task of gov­ern­ing a bit­terly di­vided na­tion. If Clin­ton wins, her prospects for achiev­ing her goals will be greatly di­min­ished un­less her vic­tory is ac­com­pa­nied by ma­jor Demo­cratic gains in Congress.

“We’ve got to do the hard and maybe most im­por­tant work of heal­ing, heal­ing our coun­try,” Clin­ton said Sun­day at Union Bap­tist Church in Durham, North Carolina.

For Democrats, there’s an­other rea­son to try to run up the score. With Trump warn­ing he may con­test the race’s out­come if he loses, Clin­ton’s cam­paign is hop­ing for an over­whelm­ing Demo­cratic vic­tory that would un­der­mine any at­tempt by Trump to claim the elec­tion had been stolen from him.

In a rare ad­mis­sion of fal­li­bil­ity by the typ­i­cally boast­ful Trump, his cam­paign ac­knowl­edged he’s trail­ing Clin­ton as Elec­tion Day nears.

“We are be­hind. She has some ad­van­tages,” Trump cam­paign man­ager Kellyanne Con­way said. Still, she added, “We’re not giv­ing up. We know we can win this.”

Con­way laid out in gran­u­lar de­tail Trump’s po­ten­tial path to win­ning: vic­to­ries in Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Ne­vada and Ohio, to start. If Trump pre­vents Ari­zona and Ge­or­gia from fall­ing to Democrats and adds in some com­bi­na­tion of Colorado, Vir­ginia, New Hamp­shire and Penn­syl­va­nia, he could reach the 270 elec­toral votes needed, Con­way said.

It won’t be easy. A cur­rent As­so­ci­ated Press anal­y­sis of polling, de­mo­graphic trends and other cam­paign data rates Vir­ginia as solidly Demo­cratic, while Colorado, New Hamp­shire and Penn­syl­va­nia are all lean­ing Demo­cratic. Ari­zona, re­mark­ably, is a toss-up.

Cam­paign­ing Sun­day in Florida, Trump called for vot­ers to elect a Repub­li­can House and Sen­ate that would “swiftly en­act” his pri­or­i­ties, which in­clude over­haul­ing taxes, restor­ing higher spend­ing on de­fense and re­peal­ing the Af­ford­able Care Act.

“We can en­act our whole plan in the first 100 days — and we will,” Trump said.

If Clin­ton wins, Democrats would need a net gain of four Sen­ate seats to re­take the ma­jor­ity. House con­trol would be much harder, con­sid­er­ing Repub­li­cans cur­rently en­joy their largest House ma­jor­ity since 1931. Democrats would need a 30-seat gain, a feat they haven’t ac­com­plished in roughly four decades.

Clin­ton’s nascent fo­cus on help­ing fel­low Democrats comes with an in­her­ent con­tra­dic­tion. For months, she de­lib­er­ately avoided the strat­egy em­ployed by other Democrats of trying to sad­dle all Repub­li­cans with an un­pop­u­lar Trump. In Au­gust, she said Trump rep­re­sented the “rad­i­cal fringe,” rather than the main­stream of the Repub­li­can Party.

“We have not run this cam­paign as a cam­paign against the GOP with the big broad brush — we’ve run it against Don­ald Trump,” Clin­ton’s run­ning mate, Tim Kaine, said in a week­end in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Paint­ing Trump as too ex­treme even for the GOP was a strat­egy in­tended to help Clin­ton win over vot­ers who iden­tify as Repub­li­cans but dis­like Trump. Yet it’s been a ma­jor sore point for Demo­cratic cam­paign groups, il­lus­trated by an in­ter­nal Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee email in May that was hacked and later dis­closed by Wik­iLeaks.

“They don’t want us to tie Trump to other Repub­li­cans be­cause they think it makes him look nor­mal,” top DNC of­fi­cial Luis Mi­randa wrote un­der the sub­ject line “Prob­lem with HFA,” an acro­nym for Hil­lary For Amer­ica.

An­drea Bozek of the Na­tional Repub­li­can Sen­a­to­rial Com­mit­tee, the Sen­ate GOP’s cam­paign arm, said Clin­ton’s last-minute push to aid Democrats was in­suf­fi­cient to make up for her party’s short­falls in re­cruit­ing com­pet­i­tive can­di­dates this year.

“Democrats have re­lied on po­lit­i­cal grav­ity from the pres­i­den­tial race to carry them across the fin­ish line,” Bozek said.

In­deed, as Clin­ton cam­paigned in North Carolina, where Democrats hope to un­seat GOP Sen. Richard Burr, Clin­ton’s ar­gu­ment ap­peared to rest on the hopes that vot­ers of­fended by Trump would vote against Burr, too. She said Demo­cratic can­di­date and Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union lawyer Deb­o­rah Ross knows that Trump “is wrong for Amer­ica.”

“Un­like her op­po­nent, Deb­o­rah has never been afraid to stand up to Don­ald Trump,” Clin­ton said.

Still, Clin­ton’s cam­paign said she re­mained in­tent on reach­ing out to GOP vot­ers and was specif­i­cally tar­get­ing Repub­li­can politi­cians who haven’t de­nounced Trump. Cam­paign spokesman Brian Fal­lon said the poli­cies Clin­ton has pri­or­i­tized for her first 100 days “are ones that Repub­li­cans should have ev­ery rea­son to work with us on.”

Clin­ton isn’t the only Demo­crat putting a pre­mium on down-bal­lot races. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama flew Sun­day to Ne­vada to cam­paign for the Demo­cratic Sen­ate can­di­date there be­fore head­ing to Cal­i­for­nia to raise money for House Democrats. He and Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den have recorded ads, raised money and cam­paigned in per­son for dozens Demo­cratic can­di­dates this year.


Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump, left, stands with vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Gov. Mike Pence, R-Ind., dur­ing a cam­paign rally, Satur­day in Cleve­land.

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