Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s scathing hacked email assessments of Hillary Clinton as someone who “screws up” everything she touches with “hubris” and Donald Trump as a “national disgrace” could serve to drive down turnout among voters who largely agree with his biting criticisms of the two widely disliked presidential hopefuls.
“He expressed the frustration the core supporters of both candidates feel, as well as those who might not have decided how to vote in the election,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “He was able to hit the entire voter spectrum.”
In some of his more damning remarks about Clinton, Powell calls her “greedy” and says, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris,” though he voices “respect” even as he expresses disdain.
Read more from Kimberly Atkins and Brian Dowling at the Boston Herald
There's a reason why the Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton campaigns are behaving like the election could turn on a single, newly coined noun -- "deplorables."
The political firestorm over the Democratic nominee's use of the word to demean half of her rival's supporters might seem like another of the bizarre spats that trivialize presidential races. But the controversy has turned into one of those rare campaign moments when strategists for each candidate are happy to trade fire on the same ground.
"We have the support of cops and soldiers and carpenters and welders and accountants and lawyers, the young and the old, and millions of working class families all over this nation," Trump said in Iowa Tuesday. "My opponent slanders you as deplorable and irredeemable."But the Clinton campaign -- struggling to move past damaging video showing the Democratic nominee stumbling and wobbly over the weekend -- is hardly in a defensive crouch on the "deplorables" comment. Instead, the plan is to turn the tables on Trump with the implicit accusation that if anyone is deplorable, it is him.
"This is not a mistake on Clinton's part. She is looking up at the polls, they are tightening and there is an enthusiasm gap in favor of Trump," said Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist who is not affiliated with the Trump campaign. "She is engaging in what some would argue is a high-risk strategy to gin up support among voters who just might not turn out."
O'Connell added: "Turnout is the biggest issue for her. The map is the biggest issue for Trump."
Read more from Stephen Collinson at CNN
Political operatives on both sides of the aisle say Hillary Clinton’s campaign dug her a hole she may struggle to climb out of by not disclosing her pneumonia diagnosis as soon as it was confirmed.
GOP operative Ford O’Connell, an adviser to the 2008 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. John McCain — whose age and health was a focal point in the race — said Clinton again has to overcome a trust deficit on the campaign trail.
“Right now this is more of an issue for them because of the lying and secrecy,” he said. “Right now what they’re scrambling for is trying to regain trust and in politics trust is a very fragile thing.”
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Donald Trump struck back Monday against Hillary Clinton’s “demonizing” of his supporters, saying the Democratic presidential nominee revealed her true colors when she described his backers as “deplorables” and showed just how out of touch she is with millions of ordinary Americans.
In a new television ad and on the campaign trail, Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton’s attack — as well as her response to the blowback — is unbefitting the presidency and “disqualifies her from public service.”
With Mrs. Clinton sidelined by health issues, Mr. Trump is projecting an image of endurance — stacking up campaign events, vowing to release results from a recent physical and delivering an aggressive defense of his supporters. His campaign also announced that a CIA director under former President Bill Clinton is joining his camp as a senior adviser.
Compared to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump has held twice as many public events this month, according to a running tally from Democracy in Action, including campaign stops Monday in Baltimore and North Carolina.
Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist, said Mr. Trump, who has at least a half-dozen more events penciled in this week, is trying to make the most of Mrs. Clinton’s absence from the campaign trail.
“He is trying to subliminally make the case that he has the stamina to be commander in chief, and she doesn’t,” Mr. O’Connell said. “They are going to go about their business and make Trump as visual as possible to show that he is the person best fit to [be] president, at least from a physical standpoint.”
Read more from Seth McLaughlin at The Washington Times
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are taking steps to open up to the press while also intensifying their criticism of the media as both look to shape coverage in the presidential campaign’s final 60 days.
Trump has lifted a controversial ban on certain outlets from covering his rallies, while Clinton this week broke a 278-day long streak of not holding a press conference.
Both candidates are image-conscious, historically unpopular, and hell-bent on controlling how the media portrays them through the home-stretch.
“Undecided voters are at record levels — something like 15 to 20 percent,” said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell. “Therefore, the campaign that wins the media coverage over the next 60 days is very likely to win the presidential election.”
For Republicans, it has long been held as orthodoxy that the media is overwhelmingly liberal and biased against them.
But many conservatives believe reporters have dropped any veneer of impartiality now that Trump is the nominee.
“Essentially the media has made the collective determination that Trump is ‘dangerous’ and they are going to let everyone know about it,” said O’Connell.
“It’s a sheer media pile on, and I have never seen anything like it,” he added. “Dole, Bush, McCain never got treated like this. Forget Trump’s flaws or verbal miscues for a second, the mainstream media have abandoned its journalistic credo for fairness and flat out tilted the coverage against Trump.”
Read more from Jonathan Easley at The Hill
Donald Trump called for a “civil rights agenda of our time” while visiting a predominately black church in Detroit yesterday as his campaign looks to boost his lagging approval numbers among the black population.
While protesters kept a vocal presence outside the house of worship, Trump made a pitch inside for support from an electorate strongly aligned with his opponent Hillary Clinton.
GOP analyst Ford O’Connell said Trump’s tepid support from blacks is little to worry about: The most black support won by any Republican presidential candidate was the 15 percent Gerald Ford got in 1976.
“This is as much about bringing in minorities as it is bringing in moderate Republicans and affluent swing voters,” O’Connell said.
The message of Trump’s visit is “at the end of the day, contrary to what Democrats say, ‘I’m not a bigot, my heart is in the right place,’ ” O’Connell said.
Read more from Brian Dowling at the Boston Herald
Republicans, worried that Donald Trump’s unpopularity among voters will cost them their majority in the House in November, are expected to target someone they see as just as loathed among their base: San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
In an effort to offset whatever damage the GOP presidential nominee might do to Republican chances of retaining control of the House, Pelosi would be portrayed as the “scary liberal” who would become speaker if Democrats take charge, according to some political observers.
“Pelosi may be the only Democrat out there more despised by Republicans than Hillary Clinton,” said Republican political analyst Ford O’Connell, referring to the Democratic nominee. “Nancy Pelosi is always someone Republicans can rally around.”
It’s that prospect, say analysts, that Republicans would hammer into GOP voters to keep them from staying home on election day because they are disenchanted with Trump, or if they do show up, to persuade them from voting against Republicans down the ballot.
Democrats need a net gain of 30 seats to make Pelosi speaker again. Professional political handicappers currently estimate Democratic gains of up to 16 seats, but some political models are beginning to indicate that a Democratic majority may be within reach.
Retaking the House remains a daunting challenge. O’Connell, the GOP analyst, said only 35 House seats are in play, meaning Democrats would have to sweep nearly all of them. “You’d need almost a Goldwater meltdown by Trump,” O’Connell said, referring to the 1964 Republican nominee who lost in a historic landslide.
Read more from Carolyn Lockheed at The San Francisco Chronicle
With a little more than two months to go before voters head to the polls, Hillary Clinton could try to run out the clock on controversies surrounding her private email use and her family's foundation.
The more than half-dozen Freedom of Information Act lawsuits pending against the State Department will expose thousands of documents related to Clinton's time as secretary of state now that the FBI has relinquished control of roughly 14,900 emails recovered from Clinton's private server. At least five separate congressional inquiries into activity related to Clinton's private email use or foundation have not yet yielded answers from the Justice or State Departments.
But many of the document probes that threaten to deepen Clinton's ethical woes are unlikely to turn up scathing evidence before November, giving the Democratic nominee an opportunity to wait out the controversies until after the election has been decided.
Ford O'Connell, a GOP strategist, said Clinton likely believes she can run out the clock on her Republican opponent, Donald Trump, because relatively few news outlets and organizations are pushing to unearth her records.
"She thinks she's so far up in the polls, and Trump's not going to get his act together, and the media is not going to dig any further," O'Connell told the Washington Examiner.
"It's why she went out there and gave the speech on racism," he said of Clinton's strategy last week amid a spate of revelations about the Clinton Foundation. "Obviously, it's hitting a nerve."
Read more from Sarah Westwood at the Washington Examiner
The keys for Libertarian ticket mates Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld to launch a serious third party insurgency are the general voter dissatisfaction with the two flawed major-party nominees and scoring a coveted spot on the prime time debate stage, strategists say.
“This type of opportunity for a third party does not come around very often,” Republican Ford O’Connell told the Herald, citing Ross Perot’s 1992 White House bid as the last great third-party run. “I think their decent poll numbers have more to do with the frustration with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump than liking Gary Johnson.”
The Johnson/Weld ticket is polling just shy of nine percent nationally, below the 15 percent threshold needed to earn a spot on the debate stage with Clinton and Trump. In a Quinnipiac poll this week, the Libertarians got 10 percent, but 62 percent of respondents said they wanted to see Johnson debate Trump and Clinton.
“They need to get on national TV and need to get into the debates because nobody knows who they are,” O’Connell said. “But for them to hit 15 percent ... it would have more to do with Clinton and Trump than Johnson and Weld.”
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Donald Trump is finally doing what Republicans leaders had hoped he would the minute he clinched the GOP presidential nomination: he's hitting Hillary Clinton where it hurts.
For a little over a week now, Trump has kept his focus on his Democratic opponent by capitalizing on the numerous developments related to her private email practices and the questionable dealings between Clinton Foundation donors and the State Department.
Hours after State Department officials confirmed on Monday that FBI investigators had uncovered nearly 15,000 additional emails that Clinton's attorneys had failed to disclose during their probe into her email practices, Trump called for a special prosecutor to take over the case.
Having watched Trump's objective evolve from making himself the center of attention to shining a spotlight on Clinton, veteran GOP strategist Ford O'Connell said the candidate must have come to understand that the latter will give him a far better shot at victory in November.
"I think he came to the realization that the only way he could win this election is if it becomes a referendum on Clinton and her scandals," O'Connell told the Washington Examiner.
But the question is whether Trump has made a permanent pivot or soon resorts to his old habits of leveling personal insults against pundits, politicians and members of the press and wandering off topic at his rallies.
"I think there is a little bit of reluctance among Republicans to immediately commend him," O'Connell said. "But because they're inextricably linked to him, whether they like it or not they basically have all the interest in the world to convince him to stay on message and applaud him when he does."
Read more from Gabby Morrongiello at the Washington Examiner