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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/2/16

Focus on Trump Shouldn't Give Other Republicans a Free Pass

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Reprinted from Robert Reich Blog

Results of a Free Pass

The Clinton campaign is relentlessly focusing on the defects of Donald Trump rather than the defects of the Republican agenda. That's understandable, and it could be a winning strategy. But it has pitfalls.

The campaign's goal is to attract a wide swathe of voters who might ordinarily lean Republican on issues, as well as unenthusiastic Democrats who need the specter of a Trump presidency to get to the polls.

As Hillary Clinton told a crowd a few weeks ago at the American Legion convention, "this is not a normal election" and "the debates are not the normal disagreements between Republicans and Democrats."

One new Clinton ad, for example, shows young women looking at themselves in mirrors while sexist comments by Trump are played in the background.

Another features clips of GOP leaders criticizing Trump in TV interviews, and closes with the words: "Unfit. Dangerous. Even for Republicans."

Under the umbrella "Together for America," the Clinton campaign is highlighting other well-known Republicans who have spoken out against Trump's character and temperament.

The Clinton campaign is also playing up endorsements by traditional Republican newspapers that have found Trump "unfit" to be president, or, in the words of the Cincinnati Enquirer (which hasn't endorsed a Democrat in a century), "a clear and present danger."

Vilifying Trump and creating a broad bipartisan coalition against him are entirely justified. Trump is indeed a menace.

It's also a winning strategy if Hillary Clinton's only goal is to get elected president.

But a singular focus on Trump poses two big risks for what happens after she wins.

First, it reduces her presidential coattails that might otherwise help Democratic candidates now running for the Senate and House. Portraying Trump as an aberration from normal Republicanism gives their Republican opponents a free pass. All they have to do is distance themselves from him.

Six months ago, when the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee were still linking Trump to the Republican Party, Democrats were well positioned to win back control of the Senate -- defending just 10 seats compared with 24 for Republicans.

But the odds of a Democratic Senate takeover have shrunk.

In the key battleground state of New Hampshire, for example, 78 percent of voters now view incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte, a first-term senator who rarely mentions Trump on the campaign trail, as a "different kind of Republican" than Trump, according to a CBS News-YouGov poll of battleground states last month.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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