CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton entered the final phase of her campaign on Friday, working to ensure a victory that is decisive enough to earn a mandate for her presidency and a surge of voters to help Democrats win congressional races.
Emerging from a nine-day absence from the trail, Mrs. Clinton seized on the momentum of her performance in the final presidential debate, choosing Ohio — a battleground state where she has struggled the most against Donald J. Trump — as her first stop on a four-day swing. With new polls showing Mrs. Clinton closing in on Mr. Trump in the state, her campaign is glimpsing the opportunity for a clean sweep of traditional swing states.
Reminding voters of Mr. Trump’s refusal in Wednesday’s debate to say definitively he would accept the outcome on Election Day, Mrs. Clinton said that as secretary of state she had visited countries whose leaders jailed political opponents and invalidated elections they did not win. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship,” she said.
She also portrayed herself as a the candidate who could attract independent, undecided and even Republican voters unhappy with Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I want to say something to people who may be reconsidering their support of my opponent,” she said. “I know you still may have questions for me, I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”
Her stop here marked the start of a rare multiday tour of swing states as the Clinton campaign revved up its efforts to decisively defeat Mr. Trump on Nov. 8, including releasing a powerful minute-long ad featuring Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. The ad featuring Mr. Khan, who was attacked by Mr. Trump after he spoke at the Democratic convention, will run in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as other crucial states.
— Hillary Clinton Makes Pitch for Mandate and a Swing-State Sweep, Trip Gabriel and Ashley Parker, New York Times, today
She knows some voters still may have questions for me, and she respects that and wants to answer them, and earn her listeners’ vote? Does she think those questions are whether or not she would accept the outcome on Election Day if she lost? And about whether as president she’d trash families of fallen U.S. Armed Services members who are Muslim, and attempt to categorically keep Muslims from immigrating here?
Who does she think that reminding voters of Trump’s actions and words of those sorts, including ones that has dominated the news and internet since last Wednesday night, is concerned about whether Clinton would do these things?
Clinton obviously thinks that these things are the only things that moderates and mainstream Republicans would support her about. That’s what’s been at the heart of her campaign from its inception to, apparently, this very minute. And it’s why she’ll win only because of who her opponent is, and why Dem Senate candidates are struggling so hard.
Paul Krugman keeps pushing the line that Clinton actually is a terrific candidate, and by golly she’d be way ahead against Rubio or another mainstream Republican, partly because those candidates’ policy agendas and base-baiting lines are mostly pretty similar to Trump’s. He’s right about mainstream Republican candidates’ policy agendas and, certainly, about the meaning of the Rubio bot. But he probably still would be very much in the running to beat Clinton—who herself is trapped in a bot.
Meanwhile, yesterday, there was this little news story:
Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and a staffer were in a car crash in the senator’s home state on Thursday, but have been released after receiving treatment for minor injuries at a Cleveland area hospital.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that Brown and the staffer were driving from Columbus to Brown’s home in Cleveland when they were hit by another car around 4 p.m.
Brown, a Democrat, thanked hospital staff and the makers of his Jeep Cherokee in a statement to the newspaper. “[M]y Jeep Cherokee, made with American steel by union workers in Toledo, made all the difference in allowing us to walk away from this crash, a little stiff, but unharmed,” he said.
Brown reaffirmed his thanks in a Twitter post on Friday: “Thx for care & concern. Doing fine. Grateful to Parma police, medical staff & my Jeep made w/American steel by union workers in Toledo,” he wrote.
The Dispatch also reports that “Brown’s rescue dog Franklin, strapped in with a harness, was uninjured.”
— Sherrod Brown treated for minor injuries after car crash, Madeline Conway, Politico
I don’t doubt that the ad featuring Mr. Khan is powerful. But I do doubt that it will sway many wavering Rust Belters, because they already know Mr. Khan’s message.
Had the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic Party apparatus (certainly including donors) not elbowed out the very thought of any progressive other than Bernie Sanders—who ran only because no other progressive would—Sherrod Brown I think would have. And would be about to witness a largely-progressive Democratic wave not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s death.
Instead, Democrats may not even retake the Senate.
Even Franklin probably knows that things such as NLRB appointments would be good to mention in Ohio. Maybe he can tell Clinton. Since her campaign gurus apparently haven’t.
ADDENDUM: Gail Collins’s NYT column today, titled “Don’t Take Donald Trump to Dinner,” is mostly about Trump’s jarring use of the annual Catholic Charities dinner in NYC a few days ago as just another forum for his usual ugly comments about Clinton. But Collins also said this:
In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would then have gotten up and given the most good-natured speech in political history, scrapping all the barbed lines in her prepared script, like the one about how a Trump White House would be awkward for gatherings of the ex-presidents (“How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”). But she didn’t change a word, because Clinton is not a spontaneous politician.
If this were a normal election, we could have a very interesting discussion about how programmed she can be, and whether that would be a problem if she’s elected. But as things stand, unless we discover she’s actually an android, there’s just no point.
I wouldn’t have expected Clinton to spontaneously scrap her prepared speech and give an entirely off-the-cuff one, and at least that joke that Collins quoted was funny and pointed at Trump’s and the alt-right’s actual words and positions.
But this is a person who genuinely seems unable to take a breath on her own, and who apparently delegated to campaign consultants and advisors her campaign’s very raison d’être. G.W. Bush did the same. But that was unusual. And it was a very different political era, although Clinton and her circle hadn’t noticed this until Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump forced them to belatedly, and even then not really. Or at least not fully. Even yet.
We have no choice now but to look forward, not backward. But anyone who thinks that had either one run, Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown would not be about to usher in a genuinely progressive era, is willfully blind. That is precisely because a Warren or a Brown campaign’s raison d’être would be Warren’s or Brown’s own raison d’être as politicians to begin with, argued eloquently and passionately, and contrasted to their Republican opponent’s and the Republican Party’s—in their own words, their own sentences, their own paragraphs.
Added 10/22 at 4:40 p.m.