Tuesday, March 01, 2016

POLITICS - The Up-Coming Bout, Clinton vs Trump

"Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald Trump" by Amy Chozick and Patrick Healy, New York Times 2/29/2016

IMHO the conservative electorate lives in fear, their conservatism is fear of change.


In the days after Donald J. Trump vanquished his Republican rivals in South Carolina and Nevada, prominent Democrats supporting Hillary Clinton arranged a series of meetings and conference calls to tackle a question many never thought they would ask:  How do we defeat Mr. Trump in a general election?

Several Democrats argued that Mrs. Clinton, should she be her party’s nominee, would easily beat Mr. Trump.  They were confident that his incendiary remarks about immigrants, women and Muslims would make him unacceptable to many Americans.  They had faith that the growing electoral power of black, Hispanic and female voters would deliver a Clinton landslide if he were the Republican nominee.

But others, including former President Bill Clinton, dismissed those conclusions as denial.  They said that Mr. Trump clearly had a keen sense of the electorate’s mood and that only a concerted campaign portraying him as dangerous and bigoted would win what both Clintons believe will be a close November election.

That strategy is beginning to take shape, with groups that support Mrs. Clinton preparing to script and test ads that would portray Mr. Trump as a misogynist and an enemy to the working class whose brash temper would put the nation and the world in grave danger.  The plan is for those themes to be amplified later by two prominent surrogates:  To fight Mr. Trump’s ability to sway the news cycle, Mr. Clinton would not hold back on the stump, and President Obama has told allies he would gleefully portray Mr. Trump as incapable of handling the duties of the Oval Office.

Democrats say they risk losing the presidency if they fail to take Mr. Trump seriously, much as Republicans have done in the primary campaign.

“He’s formidable, he understands voters’ anxieties, and he will be ruthless against Hillary Clinton,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut.  “I’ve gone from denial — ‘I can’t believe anyone would listen to this guy’ — to admiration, in the sense that he’s figured out how to capture everyone’s angst, to real worry.”

During the first Republican debate last summer, Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, shushed a room full of people at the campaign’s Brooklyn headquarters when Mr. Trump started to speak, almost giddily captivated by the wildness of his remarks.  “Shh, I’ve got to get me some Trump,” he said.

Now, Mr. Mook and his colleagues regard Mr. Trump as a wily, determined and indefatigable opponent who seems to be speaking to broad economic anxieties among Americans and to the widely held belief that traditional politicians are incapable of addressing those problems.  Publicly, the Clinton operation is letting the Republicans slug it out.  But privately, it and other Democrats are poring over polling data to understand the roots of Mr. Trump’s populist appeal and building up troves of opposition research on his business career.

“The case against Trump will be prosecuted on two levels,” said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster and Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategist in 2008.  “The first is temperament,” and whether he is suited to be commander in chief, Mr. Garin said, echoing conversations that have dominated Democratic circles recently.  The second “will be based on whether he can really be relied on as a champion for anyone but himself.”

But the tactics the Clintons have used for years to take down opponents may fall short in a contest between the blunt and unpredictable Mr. Trump and the cautious and scripted Mrs. Clinton: a match-up that operatives on both sides predicted would be an epic, ugly clash between two vastly disparate politicians.

“Hillary has built a large tanker ship, and she’s about to confront Somali pirates,” said Matthew Dowd, the chief strategist for former President George W. Bush’s 2004 campaign, who is now an independent.

This article is based on interviews with more than two dozen advisers, strategists and close allies of the Clintons, including several who have spoken directly with Mr. Clinton.  Some spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss strategy publicly.

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