Hillary Clinton staggered out of the worst week of her 2016 presidential campaign with a 3 percent lead over Donald Trump. Nonetheless, it's likely she will move forward to a resounding victory in November. Here's what Hillary needs to do.
1. Avoid further screw-ups: Although Clinton came out of the email hearings with her lead intact, the process further damaged her trustworthiness ratings. We're now at the point where voters dislike both major candidates but continue to have stronger negative feelings for Trump. (Significant numbers of voters indicate they will support the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson.)
Going forward, the Clinton campaign can afford no further screw-ups. If they stay the course, Hillary will gradually enhance her positives -- she's a disciplined campaigner. Her biggest problem will be keeping Bill Clinton under control; in 2016 he's proved to be a loose cannon.
The July 25th Democratic convention must be free from controversy. Clinton needs to reconcile with Bernie Sanders and his supporters. She also needs to take the correct tone regarding the "Black Lives Matter" movement.
2. Stay on message: The primary reason that Hillary leads Trump has been her ability to stay on message -- after Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Phoenix Airport, Donald Trump had 10 days to blast Hillary on the email kerfuffle but failed to do so effectively -- he continually veered off message.
In the next four months, Clinton needs to stay on message; talk about jobs, terror, immigration, and gun control. She must not respond to Trump's negative attacks on her -- this should be done through surrogates. Hillary can build her leadership, competence, and trust numbers by staying on message while Trump fires random hate missiles at her.
3. Bring excitement to her campaign: While the idea of Hillary Clinton, a woman, becoming President is exciting, Hillary herself is phlegmatic. The contrast between stolid Hillary and crazy Donald may be enough to guarantee Clinton's victory, but it would be ideal to spice up the Democratic campaign with an exciting running mate. At the moment, the best choice seems to be Elizabeth Warren.
While only a year younger than Hillary, Elizabeth seems more youthful and has a stronger appeal to Millenials. Warren has proven herself an effective advocate of progressive policies and an unusually effective Trump-basher. Elizabeth can be the foremost critic of all things Trump -- in effect, the bad cop -- while Hillary focuses on positive policy positions -- plays the good cop.
The Trump-led GOP convention (July 18) will probably be chaotic. Democrats should contrast that with a calm but exciting convention (July 25).
4. Cleanup press relations: Hillary has not held a full-scale press conference in 2016. (Instead, she has given one-on-one interviews to cable news outlets such as CNN and MSNBC.) She has good reasons for this -- the FBI email investigation was hanging over her head -- but after the Democratic convention would be a good time for Hillary to give several press conferences. (And make herself more accessible to media outlets in swing states.)
5. Roll out the campaign: The Los Angeles Times recently reported that Hillary has outspent Trump 15 to 1 ($45 million versus $3 million) on TV advertisements in swing states.
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