From Las Vegas, Nevada –
With the final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump just a day away, time is running out for the two major party candidates – and the voters – to make their choices in the 2016 race for the White House, as just three weeks from now, we’ll see what America decides to do in the race for President.
Here’s a snapshot with 21 days left:
1. Hillary Clinton remains on the defensive over her emails. Donald Trump and other Republicans seized on the latest FBI document release out of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server from her time as Secretary of State, demanding the resignation of a senior State Department official, Patrick Kennedy. In documents released yesterday, Kennedy was pressing the FBI to change the classification of one of Clinton’s emails, in exchange for supporting extra FBI agents in certain overseas postings – a self described quid pro quo – all seemingly a bid to quiet the furor over Clinton’s email server. Meanwhile, the recent releases from Wikileaks showed the Clinton campaign team underestimated the power of this email story from the start, and it’s still causing trouble in the final days of this campaign.
2. The FBI keeps dropping bombs on Clinton. I know a lot of Republicans want FBI Director James Comey to resign. I know many in the GOP think that Comey stood in the way of the investigation of Hillary Clinton over her email server. But his agency has kept dripping out details of the probe in a way that has been damaging to Clinton, and has kept the issue very much alive in the campaign. In early September, the FBI released a summary of Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview. A few weeks later, the FBI put out 189 pages of summaries from interviews in that probe. And yesterday, another 100 pages were released. Each of those has contained some decent nuggets of news that have not looked good for Clinton, and kept the email story from fading away. With three weeks left, there is still time for the FBI to release even more material.
3. Trump is still fighting the GOP. Whether it’s taking shots at Speaker Paul Ryan on Twitter or at a campaign rally, battling with the state GOP chair in Ohio, or still discussing delegate fights from way back in the GOP primaries, Donald Trump’s campaign continues to use precious time for things that aren’t named Hillary Clinton and the November elections. For example, at a rally in Wisconsin on Monday night, Trump once more brought up his fight with Ted Cruz over delegates from the Louisiana Primary. That primary was way back in March, ages ago in terms of this campaign. But it’s still fresh on his mind, as is his running feud with Speaker Ryan.
4. Clinton is campaigning very little. While Trump has been very active in recent weeks, the Clinton Campaign seems to have decided that they will basically cede the spotlight most days to Donald Trump, as the Democratic nominee has either been off the campaign trail or doing private fundraising events for much of October. By my count, I only see six days this month that Clinton has had a public campaign event like a rally or a speech. Trump has had only four days with nothing going on. The Boston Globe put it this way – “Strategists in both parties said having fewer events reflected Clinton’s risk-averse style.” Clinton’s team though is ramping up the number of surrogates doing events, like the President and Vice President.
5. The news media takes the heat. There has been a different level of anger directed at reporters in this campaign than any other that I have covered since 1988, and I’m sure these last three weeks will see that edge up even more. Trump’s rallies now feature a “CNN sucks!” chant that is directed at reporters in the media pen and more. Some networks now reportedly have security guards protecting their reporters at Trump events. Unfortunately, there have also been way too many social media threats which rightly make some journalists concerned about their safety, like a recent graphic that featured a bullet hole in the forehead of a female reporter, along with a Jewish star. I worry that someone in my line of work is going to get hurt in the final weeks of this campaign.