Hillary Clinton and her allies on Tuesday intensified their attacks on Donald Trump’s character and temperament, as they sought – without success – to shift scrutiny away from news that the FBI had revived an investigation into her email practices at the State Department.
Trump, meanwhile, rebuffed those efforts by attacking her over the emails during a rally Tuesday in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, saying that her election would provoke an “unprecedented constitutional crisis.” Trump said a Hillary Clinton presidency would bring work in Washington to an “unglorious halt” and called the email controversy the “biggest scandal since Watergate.”
“She is likely to be under investigation for many years, probably concluding in a very large-scale criminal trial,” Trump said.
The crowd at Trump’s rally erupted into chants of “Lock her up!” at several points through the speech.
News that the FBI is renewing its probe into the potential mishandling of classified material in Clinton’s email practices as secretary of state has roiled the closing days of the 201 presidential contest, and many public surveys show the race has tightened. No evidence of criminal wrongdoing into Clinton’s tenure at State has been discovered by the FBI or in several Republican congressional investigations.
Earlier in the day, during a campaign event in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Trump focused his remarks at the Affordable Care Act and again promised to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
“When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare. Have to do it. I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace,” Trump said. (There appears to be no necessity for a “special session” on Capitol Hill. The current Congress will reconvene soon after the election. And early next year, the new one will gavel in.)
But Trump shifted away from talking about health care in Wisconsin: “You know, somehow I think that Obamacare is not going to be her biggest problem. Does that make sense?” Trump quipped in Wisconsin. “She wants to blame everybody else for her mounting legal troubles, but really she doesn’t have anyone to blame but herself.”
In a statement, Trump’s senior communications adviser, Jason Miller, characterized the Clinton’s new ad reservations as a defensive move.
“It’s notable that in the final week of this campaign it is actually the Clinton campaign being put on defense and being forced to start advertising in so-called ‘blue states’ to hold off Mr. Trump’s surge in the polls, including two states the Clinton campaign boasted of having put away months ago,” Miller said.
The Trump campaign announced it was also investing $25 million in advertising across 12 states, including New Mexico and Michigan. But it did not say how much would go to each location.
A Washington Post-ABC News tracking poll conducted Thursday through Sunday showed Trump at 46 percent and Clinton 45 percent in a four-way contest. The poll finds little shift in Clinton’s overall support following news of the FBI’s renewed look at her emails, but strong enthusiasm among her supporters fell behind Trump in combined Saturday and Sunday interviews.
Clinton still leads Trump by an average of four points in Colorado, five points in Virginia, seven points in New Mexico, and seven points in Michigan according to RealClearPolitics.
Speaking to reporters en route to Florida, a senior Clinton aide said that the campaign does not believe the renewed scrutiny by the FBI is hurting Clinton’s standing in the polls.
“The race has tightened the way that we thought it would tighten but . . . we do not see anything that would suggest that the FBI story is impacting our support,” said the aide, who requested anonymity to speak more freely about campaign strategy.
Asked why Clinton is spending so much time in Florida, the aide said: “It’s a state that we think we’ll win. It’s a state that Trump has to win. . . . Obviously we don’t think he has any path without Florida.”
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Jenna Johnson, John Wagner, Jose A. DelReal