Inside the Clinton Plan to Defeat Donald Trump
The Clinton campaign's strategy against Donald Trump, or Sherman's march to the sea? (Click to enlarge; source)
by Gaius Publius
I'm just presenting this, and genuinely for your information. I'd be shocked if the Clinton team weren't preparing to take on Donald Trump should Clinton win the nomination. New York Times writers Amy Chozik and Patrick Healy (we've discussed some of his work here) have sussed out details on that plan — or have had been the recipients of a campaign-orchestrated "leak" describing it:
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.In addition, Ben Smith at Buzzfeed has gathered a characterization of their anti-Trump plans by Clinton insider Paul Begala, and added a characterization of his own that's a little more, shall we say, graphic.
Here's the information Chozik and Healy have received. Note that the piece was written just prior to Super Tuesday; my emphasis throughout.
Inside the Clinton Team’s Plan to Defeat Donald TrumpIf that's their assessment, that a Trump–Clinton contest in November will be close, they are likely correct, and a great many people, including myself, agree.
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.
There seem to be two parts of the plan, according to the Times. The first part involves the who and the messaging:
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.The second part involves the style of the campaign:
An All-Out AssaultAll very reasonable sounding; very professional. Here's another look at what "an all-out assault" might mean.
While Mrs. Clinton radiates positive energy on the trail, Democratic groups are beginning to coalesce around a strategy to deliver sustained and brutal attacks on Mr. Trump.
The plan has three major thrusts: Portray Mr. Trump as a heartless businessman who has worked against the interests of the working-class voters he now appeals to; broadcast the degrading comments he has made against women in order to sway suburban women, who have been reluctant to support Mrs. Clinton; and highlight his brash, explosive temper to show he is unsuited to be commander in chief.
American Bridge, a pro-Clinton “super PAC,” has formed a “due diligence unit” of tax and business experts who are poring over Securities and Exchange Commission documents and court records related to Mr. Trump’s business career.
A staff member for an affiliated group, Correct the Record, which coordinates with Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, has collected footage of comments that have not hurt Mr. Trump’s standing among Republican primary voters, but that could be stitched together in what the group’s founder, David Brock, described as a montage of hateful speech that would appall a general electorate.
"The Only Strategy For Hillary Clinton Is To Scorch The Earth"
Here's another characterization of that "all-out assault" and what it might look like. It comes from Ben Smith at Buzzfeed, who gets his information from, among others, Paul Begala, a Clinton insider (again, my emphasis):
The Only Strategy For Hillary Clinton Is To Scorch The EarthNote that this was also written just prior to Super Tuesday, and that Clinton's wish for "voters of color" to support her in large numbers came true in the South. That level of support is proving less true in places like Michigan, however, where Sanders has made inroads into many non-white communities.
If Hillary Clinton manages to beat Bernie Sanders, the early primaries have already revealed that there’s only one strategy for the general election against a Republican, be it Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, or Ted Cruz: Scorch the earth.
There was a scenario, which looks more like a fantasy, in which Clinton was a movement. Women in their twenties, thirties, and forties would rally to her the way black Americans rallied to Obama; she would run on her own mantle of change.
In reality, nobody is that excited about Hillary Clinton, and young voters, women and men — the foot soldiers of any Democratic Party movement — aren’t coming around. She lost a resounding 82% of voters under 30 in Nevada. Her campaign now rests on the hope that voters of color like her well enough, if nowhere near as much as they like Obama. And that means that when she faces a Republican, she will have to destroy him — something the people who will be doing the destroying acknowledged when I asked them earlier this month.
“The [expected campaign] slogan is ‘Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid,’” said Paul Begala, who is an adviser to the pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA. ...
"Scorch the earth"? Really?
My main takeaway, though, is also Smith's main point. He notes that in a campaign where "nobody is that excited" about the candidate, and yet where the opposition is truly horrible, the only way to win is to ... scorch the earth.
If that's the case, that Clinton is the nominee and the campaign is a firestorm of mutual destruction, can you imagine what it will be like to live in this country and watch that?
Ben Smith says "don’t expect 2016 to be a fond political memory." Quite the understatement. Again, offered for your information.
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