Donald Trump Weighing Whether to Sign Pledge to Back Republicans’ Eventual Nominee

28 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Can Hillary overcome the ‘liar’ factor?.

Hillary Clinton took a new tack this week when answering questions about her use of a private email account as secretary of state: She took responsibility and admitted she was at fault.As Hillary Rodham Clinton addresses the Democratic National Committee summer meeting in Minneapolis this week, it’s a good opportunity to take stock of a faltering campaign. On Thursday, the reason for the change in tone came into sharper focus with a stunning new poll illustrating the extent to which voters don’t trust Clinton to tell the truth.

The No. 1 response was “liar,” followed by “dishonest” and “untrustworthy.” Overall, more than a third of poll respondents said their first thought about Clinton was some version of: She’s a liar. When she announced her candidacy in April, Clinton was considered nearly unbeatable, her campaign perceived as more of a coronation than a real nomination contest.

But the striking reality is that, for Clinton, a lack of trust is the first thing many think of. “Anyone running for president — that is a pretty fundamental quality you need,” said Democratic pollster Fred Yang, who is also part of the bipartisan team that produces polls for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal. Yet no speech, no policy proposal, no argument, nothing from the other candidates has come close to capturing the imagination of voters, giving Trump the space to loom all the larger.

But Clinton does have other strengths to build on, according to recent polls: Voters admire her leadership, and women believe she cares about them. “The dichotomy is hard to figure out,” said Tim Malloy, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “The numbers show that people don’t think she’s particularly honest or trustworthy. But the numbers also show that she’s in charge, she’s a leader.” And her 24 years in the public eye can cut both ways: While perceptions of such a well-known figure can be deeply ingrained, polling on Clinton shows substantial swings; and this year, in the heat of a campaign in which Clinton often seems to be running against herself, with her family foundation and email practices receiving intense scrutiny, she’s tumbled to a new low. “This will never be a strength — and it very well may be a career-ending problem for her,” said one veteran GOP pollster, referring to Clinton’s credibility problems. “But we’ve got a long ways to go before this plays out.” “What Hillary Clinton needs in the worst way is somebody to run against,” the Republican pollster added, suggesting Clinton’s image could actually improve if Vice President Joe Biden entered the race. “She will fare best when she’s compared against another candidate, whether that’s a Democrat or a Republican.” “On the one hand, it’s great for the Democratic Party that there’s 17 Republicans [in the race],” Yang added. “On the other hand, it does delay when there’s a real contrast.” Yang said part of Clinton’s decline was inevitable. Trump is such a forceful communicator that he comes off as some sort of throwback alpha male, whereas Bush is such an earnest wonk, he looks and sounds like a sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom.

Ed Rendell called it “tone deaf.” The situation is no laughing matter to investigative reporter Bob Woodward, who has likened Clinton’s private e-mail usage to the Watergate scandal. Bush is not a natural performer to begin with, and he believes his contribution to the race is to be the nonthreatening Republican, which is often indistinguishable from the uninteresting Republican.

Her shift this week from blaming Republican attacks for her problems, to taking responsibility herself, seemed a clear attempt to remedy that perception. So while Bush has methodically built the superstructure of an impressive campaign — with fundraising, organization and policy proposals — he has so far barely warmed up an ember among voters. It, in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes: thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversations that Nixon thought were exclusively his.” With her ethical baggage and status as the candidate of the past, Clinton looks to be an albatross for Democrats in the suburbs and in Greater Minnesota. A so-so debate performance and the rise of Trump have continued his long fade to middle of the pack in the latest early state polling (tied for fourth in New Hampshire and tied for seventh in South Carolina).

Walker’s ability to appeal to both the establishment and activist wings of the party had looked like a strength, but now it seems a precarious balancing act, made all the more difficult by a panicky reaction to Trump. Just 3-in-10 white women said she is honest and trustworthy — including only 34 percent of white women with a college degree, a constituency crucial to repairing Democrats’ numbers among whites. No sooner had Walker pronounced himself “aggressively normal” in the debate than he seemed to opt for just “aggressive” in an attempt to play to the passions tapped by Trump. Who could have predicted that the Midwestern candidate who tells stories about buying shirts for $1 at Kohl’s would have to play populist catch-up with the New York billionaire who travels by eponymous helicopter?

Senate race on the statewide ballot for the first time in 12 years, the top of the ticket matters more than ever because of its influence on legislative races. Bill Clinton is perhaps the most apparent example of the disconnect between earning voters’ trust on a personal level and their confidence as president. He has a cogent theory of the case, which is that if he is nice to Trump — and the other outsider candidates — he eventually can inherit his supporters.

This makes intuitive sense, although Cruz — exceedingly careful in crafting his words and in calculating his interest — is hardly a natural anti-politician.

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