Jim Clark: How can Trump pillory Hillary? (opinion)
The presidential election just gets crazier and crazier. Longshot candidate Donald Trump has bested sixteen highly qualified opponents to snag the GOP nomination, while “prohibitive favorite” Hillary Clinton struggles to overpower 73-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders for the Democratic prize.
Just as Clinton’s heavy artillery is unlimbering to obliterate Sanders in the wind down primary elections, a new Rasmussen poll shows Trump now leads her nationally 42% to 37% while Sanders leads Trump 45% to 41%. Go figure.
Assuming Clinton wins her party’s nomination, let’s take a look at what a Trump campaign to derail Clinton’s quest for the White House might look like.
Both are well-known nationally so there isn’t much either can do to improve his/her favorability ratings with voters. Both have high negatives, so it seems as though a Trump strategy would be to drive her negatives even higher.
To that end there are a number of options. First would be the email scandal and the possibility that the former secretary of state blatantly compromised national security. The FBI has control of that investigation and any political pay dirt will be released only when that agency decides to release it, so it would be unwise to build a campaign around that.
The Benghazi disaster has some possibilities for negative campaign materials, but the GOP Congress has control of that investigation. Although bad news is immediately released, it is countered by Democrats on the Benghazi Committee, which blunts its persuasiveness as campaign material.
Moreover, assuming the administration’s culpability in the matter the one who sat on his hands and failed to provide military assistance would be President Obama, not Secretary of State Clinton.
Perhaps the most delicious source of negative campaign material for the Trump forces is the Clintons’ “global initiative” charity. Now called the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, writing in the Washington Post, called it a “sophisticated international money laundering” machine.
Founded by former President Bill Clinton in 2001, it immediately became enmeshed in controversy when Clinton pardoned financier Marc Rich and news became public that his wife, Denise Rich, donated $450,000 to the foundation and over $1 million to the Democratic Party.
According to Politifact, the foundation disburses only about 15% of revenues for charitable purposes. The remainder is used to pay a large staff to “carry out its own humanitarian programs” and to pay overhead expenses. As a result, watchdog Charity Navigator does not rate the foundation.
Through 2008 the foundation did not disclose its donors. In 2009, according to the New York Times, newly elected President Barak Obama struck a deal with Bill Clinton to accept a number of conditions and restrictions in exchange for naming Hillary Clinton Secretary of State.
As a result, a list of donors was released for the first time. They include many politically sensitive sources including Saudi Arabia, military contractor Blackwater, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Algeria and the Dominican Republic.
The foundation’s website shows that it twice filed amended tax returns; it currently has total assets of nearly a half billion dollars and annual revenues of about $338 million. Although tax returns show the Clintons are not compensated by the foundation, the Associated Press reported that a “WJC Company” is used to channel payments to the Clintons.
Hillary’s dual with Sanders for the Democratic nomination has forced her to take positions clearly to the left of center including a commitment to “fix” income inequality.
Clinton, who famously claimed to be “dead broke” when she left the White House in 2001 and who gave highly remunerative speeches to Wall Street corporations, is now worth an estimated $150 million. If 2016 is the year voters want an outsider in the White House she has a long way to go to develop that image.
You can bet Donald Trump knows that.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe County and Nevada GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.